Recent Articles

On October 31, citizens of Niger voted on a new constitution that includes extraordinary assurances of transparency in the natural resource sector. The new constitution, which was approved by an overwhelming 90% margin, includes strong protections for transparency and development that, if enforced effectively, will bolster public oversight and the accountability of the country's crucial mineral and petroleum activities.
In October, the Open Society Justice Initiative published a new report from law professor James G. Stewart that seeks to renew millenia-old prohibitions on wartime theft, or pillaging, through action at international and domestic criminal courts--particularly as pillaging applies to the illegal exploitation of natural resources by corporations and their officers.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In the October issue, Peru-Petro offers blocks for oil and gas exploration and Bolivia's government postpones the release of a critical new report on national gas reserves.
In June, the World Bank published Demanding Good Governance: Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa—a collection of case studies from across the continent that showcases citizen campaigns to enhance government accountability and transparency. Revenue Watch's Dauda Garuba and co-author John G. Ikubaje contributed a chapter, "The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and Publish What You Pay Nigeria," highlighting a lesson in government and civil society cooperation.
The Open Budget Survey 2010, released today in Washington, D.C., reveals that 74 of the 94 countries assessed do not meet basic standards of transparency with their national budgets. The report is produced every two years based on an independent comparison of budget transparency and accountability around the world. The new survey finds that just seven of the 94 countries release extensive budget information, and 40 countries release no meaningful budget information.
A Russian decree suspending required oil revenue disclosures is a significant step back.
The Revenue Watch Index is a pioneering measurement of government disclosure in the management of oil, gas and minerals, ranking transparency in 41 countries among the world's top producers of petroleum, gold, copper and diamonds. The index is an assessment and comparison of information published by governments about revenues, contract terms and other key data. It is an important tool for elected officials, policy makers, civil society and media seeking increased public disclosure about natural resource management, and greater government accountability.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In the September issue, Brazil's PETROBRAS raises US $70 billion in the world's largest share offering and Colombia's Congress discusses a bill that would modify royalty distribution.
Revenue Watch was heartened by President Obama's strong praise for open government in his address to the UN General Assembly. Obama also welcomed new U.S. requirements for company reporting of extractive industry payments, during comments to the Millennium Development Goals Summit.
Opportunities for the disclosure of contracts in the extractive sector of Kazakhstan were the focus of an international conference, "Extractive Industry Contracts Disclosure: Making Development Sustainable," attended by prominent Kazakh lawyers and leading experts in the development of model mining development agreements. The event, which also marked the Russian- and Kazakh-language launch of RWI's 2009 report Contracts Confidential, was jointly organized by the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan, the Revenue Watch Institute and the International Bar Association.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue August 31, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago sign a gas pact; Bolivian President Evo Morales modifies the iron territory granted to Jindal Steel; and Brazil weighs reducing its gas imports from Bolivia.
In a recent CNN interview, Antoine Heuty of RWI and Ashraf Haidari of the Embassy of Afghanistan discusssed the prospects for improved development and for increased conflict and corruption in Afghanistan, where vast untapped mineral riches have recently sparked international attention and calls for good governance of the war-torn countries mineral sector.
When companies sell their oil and gas assets before production has even begun, they may turn a profit long before the host country can collect the tax revenues typically associated with production. The prospect of an immediate upside for industry with uncertain or delayed benefits for countries has sparked a debate over capital gains taxes on pre-production sales. Analyst and RWI advisor Keith Myers reviews current controversies in Uganda and Ghana, using these emerging oil nations to make the case for clearer extractive sector taxation rules.
In a letter to Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar notes RWI's exceptional efforts in securing the new extractive industry reporting requirements for all U.S. and foreign companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers responds to a recent Wall Street Journal article on the new energy sector reporting rules in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, calling on oil companies to demonstrate their commitment to a more level competitive field by supporting global standards for better disclosure practices.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue August 15, a Bolivian gas find may increase exports to Argentina; Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA presents its annual financial report; and Chile's lithium framework is challenged.
A year after Peru witnessed deadly conflicts over hydrocarbon exploitation in the Amazon, the nation's Congress has passed a law clarifying the right of indigenous peoples to advance consultation concerning extractive industry activities on their lands. Claudia Viale and Felipe Bedoya of RWI's Latin America office explore the issue.
A new U.S. initiative against corruption by senior foreign officials marks a major step forward in protecting natural resource revenues and safeguarding the interests of citizens in resource-rich countries, the Revenue Watch Institute said today.
A U.S. audit that found the U.S. Department of Defense unable to account properly for 96 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraqi funds from the sale of Iraq's oil underscores the need for Iraq's new government to adopt strong, transparent controls on oil revenues and spending if the country's oil industry is to fuel economic development rather than conflict.
Among the financial reforms approved by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a measure that requires all companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to report the amounts they pay to governments for access to oil, gas and minerals. The law gives investors and citizens new tools to hold companies and governments accountable.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue July 15, Peru considers a windfall profit tax; Chile seeks royalty increases to help earthquake-damaged regions; and Colombia's oil production approaches one million barrels per day.
The Wall Street reforms passed by Congress include historic transparency rule changes for the oil and mining industry, giving investors and citizens new tools to hold companies and governments accountable for their actions. Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers called the victory "the culmination of a long campaign by Revenue Watch and the Publish What You Pay coalition to make extractive industry activities truly transparent, in the U.S. and abroad."
To promote sustainable economic development, the government of Nigeria is considering the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, a savings tool that could protect against oil price volatility. But, according to a new RWI analysis, Nigeria risks repeating patterns of weak economic governance and volatile spending unless its new Fund features certain safeguards. Read more and download the full briefing paper.

 

RWI's Latin America team delivers fresh news and insight. In issue June 30, Ecuador faces the long road to hydrocarbon contract renegotiation; Bolivia and Brazil increase investment to raise oil production; and Peru's rivers suffer from oil and mining pollution.
Recently, Open Society Institute - Azerbaijan, held a journalistic competition for investigative reports about issues of public finance—a critical area of concern for transparency activists. Three of the award-winning stories are now available in English, covering topics including regional access to water, the challenges to vocational training, and food safety.