UK backs ‘publish what you pay’ rule

| 24/02/2011

(The Guardian): Britain is throwing its weight behind European efforts to force oil and mining companies to publish details of every penny they pay to governments in poor countries where they operate. George Osborne told his fellow G20 finance ministers in Paris on Saturday that the coalition was keen to support an effort by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to throw open the operations ofthe extractive industries in the developing world to public scrutiny. "As we enter a new decade when the resources of Africa are going to be heavily developed, I strongly believe it’s in everyone’s interests that mining companies and others operate to the highest standards," said Osborne.

"That’s the way to ensure some of the world’s poorest benefit from the wealth that lies in the ground beneath them."

When multinational resources firms move into African states they often bring the promise of economic development, but campaigners say the result is all too often a bonanza for a tiny elite, while most of the population sees few benefits. In oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for example, GDP per head is $30,000, equivalent to that of Italy or Spain, but most of the population still live on less than $1 a day. Exports of oil, gas and minerals from Africa were worth $393bn in 2008, while the continent received $44bn in international aid, and natural resources accounted for almost a quarter of Africa’s growth between 2000 and 2008.

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