Government cannot be made accountable as long as its income remains shrouded in secrecy
In response to a recent International Monetary Fund internal report which found that nearly one billion dollars disappeared from Angolan Government finances last year, Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, today called on oil companies to disclose how much they are paying to the Angolan government. Tax and royalty payments by oil companies account for nearly ninety percent of government income, but Angolan citizens are unable to call their government to account over the management of resource revenue because oil companies are refusing to publish how much they pay. ChevronTexaco, Exxon, and TotalFinaElf are among the energy giants pumping or exploring for oil in Angola. Despite the fact that Angola exports more oil to the United States than Kuwait, Angolans only have an average life expectancy of 45 years.
"Governments in the developed world have a vital role to play in requiring oil companies to publish how much they pay," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International. "At the moment, all taxes paid by companies in the US or in the UK have to be declared, but those paid in the rest of the world are lumped together, making it impossible for Angolans to see how much money their government is earning. It is high time to introduce legislation that ensures full disclosure on a country by country basis worldwide."
In June 2002, Transparency International joined more than thirty other NGOs in launching the "Publish What You Pay" campaign. The coalition is calling on the G7 nations to take leadership and promote transparency over resource revenues worldwide. A central action will be for stock market regulators to require oil, gas and mining companies to publish net taxes, fees, royalties and other payments to all national governments as a condition for being listed on international stock exchanges and financial markets. Relying on companies to disclose information voluntarily has so far failed because they fear discrimination by host countries. For example, the announcement of British Petroleum's intention to "publish what they pay" in Angola brought threats of concession termination from the Angolan state oil company Sonangol. The campaign calls for mandatory disclosure backed by legislation so that citizens in developing countries are able to call their governments to account over management of resource revenue.
Corruption is one of the major challenges faced by the Angolan government. In Transparency International's 2002 Corruption Perceptions Index, Angola ranked third lowest out of 102 countries surveyed, with a score of 1.7 out of 10. It is still difficult - and often impossible - to recover money stolen by corrupt leaders and transferred to foreign banks, often in major financial centres. In March 2001, TI's African national chapters adopted the Nyanga Declaration, calling on the members of the United Nations to adopt an international treaty to expedite the tracing, recovery and repatriation of wealth stolen from developing countries and transferred abroad. The declaration calls for "the sealing of all known loopholes, requiring banks to open their books for inspection where there is reasonable cause to suspect illegal activity, and mandatory liquidation and repatriation of assets known to have been corruptly acquired".
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