Recent Articles

In today's Houston Chronicle, Revenue Watch legal fellow Susan Maples responds to a recent article about the proposed new company disclosure rules in the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act now making its way through U.S. Congress.
New York Times editor and former East Africa bureau chief Ian Fisher examines the linked histories of conflict, poverty and natrual resource wealth in Africa, including sections on oil and minerals.
In three post-Soviet countries, a new awareness of the resource curse is growing. Revenue Watch and the Soros Foundation Kazakhstan gathered more than fifty leaders in Kazakhstan last month for conference on efficiency in public spending. Like other oil-rich countries, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia have struggled with the paradox of abundant resource wealth combined with a plague of social ills, but they are now exploring ways to take the transparency movement a step further, and apply the same standard of openness that guides revenue oversight to the question of public spending.
The global financial crisis has undoubtedly taken a toll on sovereign wealth funds. Governments facing a credit shortage are under increased pressure to draw on accumulated assets, in order to shore up equity markets or to sustain domestic financial markets. In his Follow the Money blog from the Council on Foreign Relations, economist Brad Setser predicts that SWFs will fall "well short" of previous growth estimates.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue November 24 covers proposed legal changes for Ecuador's mining sector; energy shortages due to smuggling, high demand and policies that favor natural gas exports; and volatility in international mineral and oil prices.
As Uganda prepares to become an oil-producing country, one expert is asking if the nation's new-found reserves will yield national growth or economic doom. In an article in Uganda's "New Vision," researcher Frank Tumusiime, of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance, questions whether the country is positioned to translate oil revenues into capital investments for development.
Revenue Watch Institute and Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan will hold an international conference, entitled "Efficiency of Public Spending in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia" on November 14-15, 2008. The conference will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan at the Okan Intercontinental Hotel (the Istanbul Hall).
From CNN, read an essay on America's oil addiction by professor Michael Watts, coauthor with photojournalist Ed Kashi of Black Gold, excerpted from the new book "What Matters," a collection of 18 photo-essays and polemical articles on the pressing issues of our age, created by New York Times bestselling author David Elliot Cohen.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue November 8 covers continued high fuel prices for consumers despite the fall in international prices; persistent conflicts due to a lack of State attention; and strenghtened bonds between Ecuador and Venezuela.
During the last International Monetary Fund-World Bank fall meetings, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, warned that Nigeria’s savings from the oil windfall have been depleted and may not be able to play a counter-cyclical role if the financial crisis further depresses oil price below the Federal budget benchmark. The combination of the downturn in oil prices and the depletion of the excess crude account illustrate the need for strengthened resource revenue and public expenditure management at the federal, state and local level in Nigeria.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue October 24 covers the effects of the international drop in major commodity prices in Latin America; the constitutionality of legislative decrees that facilitate opening indigenous and peasant communal lands to large private investment; and regional reforms in energy policy.
Each night for a month, messages appeared on the cell phone of a community activist in one of Indonesia’s sprawling urban areas. The messages were consistent, the threat unsubtle: “If you want to live in this city, don’t talk about budgets.” Next came “informal conversations” with the local police, then interrogations. It is dangerous work to empower people, to provide them with information about malfeasance and the tools they need to collect official documents, to show students and housewives how to discover whether government officials, some local, some national, are mismanaging and sometimes skimming massive amounts of revenue paid by foreign companies to extract oil, minerals, and other natural resources.
At a September meeting of Publish What You Pay Guinea, senior economist Antoine Heuty presented a workshop on contract transparency. Heuty spoke with Guinea's La Nouvelle Tribune during his visit.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue October 8 covers a corruption scandal in Peru's oil block concession; alliances and conflicts in the relationship between state-owned companies in the hydrocarbon sector; and new oil mega projects.
Through stunning photographs and firsthand commentary, this RWI slideshow reveals the stark problems of poverty, corruption and environmental abuse that continue to devastate the oil-rich Niger Delta. Narrated by Nigerian transparency advocate Asume Isaac Osuoka and award-winning photojournalist Ed Kashi.
The recent discovery of oil under the waters of Ghana’s Gold Coast gives Ghana a chance to use the projected new resource windfall—perhaps as much as an additional one billion dollars in government revenues per year—for development. But this will only happen if Ghana can avoid the usual traps of new oil wealth in developing countries. Revenue Watch partner Oxfam America says Ghana's record of good governance and stability make it a good candidate to approach oil exploitation with greater revenue transparency and better revenue management. Ghana has the chance to consolidate its accomplishments in fighting poverty, and continuing toward its Millennium Development Goals. 
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has published revised and updated materials online on EITI Validation, which is a critical step in the EITI process. The goal of EITI Validation is to ensure that countries and companies do what they say they will, and that their implementation program is aligned with EITI criteria and principles.
In an August 25 Letter to the Editor, RWI's Matthew Genasci notes the great benefits of disaggregated reporting by extractive companies from a development and accountability perspective. The letter challenges an earlier journal article’s argument that companies should insist on aggregated reporting to minimize the risk of investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
Ghana has been a leader among African nations in its heightened standards for revenue reporting in the mining industry to date. Now, with the discovery of massive offshore oil reserves, Ghana faces a new round of governance and development challenges as it plans for substantial windfalls.
This summer the International Financial Coporation posted payment figures online for some, though not all, of its extractive industry clients. The IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank, offering guidance to investors as well as co-financing for projects.
In commentary in the Financial Times, Yahia Said calls for transparency in the negotiation of controversial Iraqi oil contracts, and help from international institutions as Iraq rebuilds its oil sector, its hobbled bureaucracy and trust between government and the citizens who stand to benefit in an improved Iraqi economy.
Revenue Watch funder the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation profiles RWI's programs, philosophy and approach in their recent newsletter, including ongoing work in Ghana and Mongolia, among other efforts.
In its newest Extractive Industries Monitoring Report (Vigilancia de las Industrias Extractivas), Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana compiles and analyzes all 2007 data from Peru relating to mineral, oil and gas production, taxes, royalties and other rent payments. The report also examines rent distribution between central and sub-national governments, and the ways that states are using these resources. This is the seventh extractive industries report from Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana (GPC), a network of Peruvian NGOs focused on decentralization, with an emphasis on civil society participation, technical assistance and sub-national capacity development.
Iraq expert Yahia Said of the Revenue Watch Institute today warned that Iraq's development depends on the creation of a political dialogue that includes all Iraqis, and on the timely resolution of the country's oil law conflicts. "Nowhere is the gridlock caused by sectarian politics more evident than in the discussion of Iraq's oil legislation," explained Said, Revenue Watch Institute director for the Middle East and North Africa.
This week, two senior U.S. Senators expressed alarm at the lack of reconstruction spending and fiscal transparency in Iraq, and called for an investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) into how Iraq manages its oil revenues. Despite the reductions in Iraqi violence since the U.S. military "surge," the rebuilding process and the associated spending have lagged. Revenue Watch and other experts are citing a range of obstacles to easy improvements and better reporting of both revenues and expenditures.