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French newsletter/Bulletin en français

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Investors & Congress call on the SEC to swiftly deliver strong rules

Senators and investor groups are urging the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to act quickly in releasing a new rule for Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Also known as the “Cardin-Lugar” provision, this law requires US-listed oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose payments to US and foreign governments on a country-by-country and project level basis.

In a letter to the SEC made public today, Senators Cardin (D-MD), Lugar (Ret. R-IN), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI) and Markey (D-MA) stated that the rule released last August was in line with Congressional intent and encouraged the SEC to write, “…an equally strong revised rule as soon as possible.” The Senators argued that, “[t]he new rule should continue to make all reports public and should not allow for host country exemptions,” and that the SEC “…has the discretion and authority to retain both of these key aspects.”

Last October, the American Petroleum Institute, US Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the National Foreign Trade Council brought a suit against the SEC seeking to overturn this groundbreaking provision. Despite a robust defense of the rule by the SEC, the DC District Court vacated it in July of this year. Although the rule was sent back to the SEC, the court made no stipulation that the components of the rule needed to be changed or weakened, but that they needed to provide further justification for parts of the rule relating to ‘no exemptions’ and ‘public disclosure’

These are the first few paragraphs of PWYP USA’s press release concerning the SEC’s pending reissuing of the rules governing Dodd-Frank 1504. You can read the whole thing here.

In brief

  • PWYP Niger held their second general assembly in Tillabery on August 26-27th. You can read the comuniqué (French only) here
  • PWYP Mauritania organised a workshop for journalists to equip them with the information and skills they need to report on the extractive sector. You can read an article on the workshop (French only) here.
  • Curious to find out all the news from Norway? Read PWYP Norway’s newsletter, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Norway’s Transparency Act which we expect to be proposed soon.
  • Save the date – London-based and available on October 30th? We’ll be screening two of our PWYP films at the Roxy Screen and Bar at London Bridge.

Love data? Love infographics?

Why not enter EITI’s infographic competition?

Use EITI data to create an infographic and you could win yourself $3000 (first prize) as well as the chance to have your infographic feature on the EITI website.

Submit your infographic by email to Helene Johansen hjohansen@eiti.org by 23 September 2013. For more information, please visit the EITI website.

Committing to EITI – will the Ugandan government set a date?

The discovery of oil in Uganda in 2006 brought with it many promises - of economic growth, development and prosperity. These promises were particularly important to the two thirds of Ugandan citizens living on less than $2 a day.

Yet you only need to look at other resource rich countries to see how oil can bring with it corruption and conflict rather than prosperity and peace. In order to avoid the resource curse and ensure that oil benefits all citizens, transparency and accountability need to be integrated into the exploitation process from the start.

Despite the challenges Uganda faces, it discovered oil at a propitious time as new international rules (such as those contained in the EU Transparency & Accounting Directives, obliging all extractive EU-listed companies to publish their payments) mean there is more opportunity than ever for a transparent extraction process. For more on current transparency legislation and what it means for Uganda, please read a briefing from Global Witness.

Ugandan civil society organisations, including Publish What You Pay Uganda, have been pushing the government to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative since oil was discovered. Joining the initiative will enable citizens to see how much money has been paid to government by extractive companies and how much money the government has received. EITI’s new standard, which includes a more robust reporting system including project level payments, will make these figures even more useful. For Ugandan civil society, it is a chance to prepare itself for the flood of extractive data which the EU Directives will yield in a couple years. For the government, this is an opportunity for them to make good on their promises of an accountable sector. It will also support a smoother extractive process – the palaver over Tullow Oil’s contacts and bribery claims from a few years back demonstrated how the mistrust opacity arouses can harm business.

The Ugandan government has on occasion declared its intention to join EITI and indeed EITI membership was an explicit part of the 2008 National Oil and Gas Policy.  Last week, Ugandan civil society had hoped to hear a more concrete commitment from the government at the Getting it right from the start conference, which brought together various multi-stakeholders to discuss the need for transparency and accountability in Uganda’s oil & gas sector.

Yet at the conference Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka did not give a solid timeline for when the government will start preparing itself for EITI candidacy, though she reaffirmed the government’s decision to eventually join the initiative.

Speaking in reaction to statements made at the conference and in relation to next steps for the national civil society coalition, PWYP Uganda’s Winnie Ngabiirwe said:

“PWYP Uganda is disappointed with the Finance Minister's non-committal statements. We had higher expectations believing that phase one of EITI was starting today. However, we are glad that the government of Uganda still believes in EITI. We wish to express our continued commitment to advocating for EITI implementation in Uganda, and we shall continue engaging the government and Oil Companies over the same. We hope that these engagements will enable us to appreciate each other’s concerns, so that we can work on addressing them jointly. Since Hon. Maria Kiwanuka has assured us EITI is still on the government's menu, there is no better time than now to have it as a starter before oil production starts.”

To keep up to date on this topic, we’d thoroughly recommend Oil in Uganda. This fantastic website has plenty of resources and articles and is regularly updated. You can also find out more about the oil sector in Uganda by reading the Uganda wiki-oil.

Photo by Stefan Gara from flickr

‘I want a fiscal regime that makes me and my people happy’

Or, the Kyrgyz version of PWYP’s Vision 20/20

PWYP International Director Marinke van Riet gives us an overview of her week working with  the Kyrgyzstan coalition on strategy development  and advancing the EITI

‘I want a fiscal regime that makes me and my people happy’: these were the words uttered by Ms Amatova Nurjamal, a Geology Professor at  Osh State University and member of the civil society coalition for EITI engagement. Ms Nurjamal was taking part, along with the rest of the PWYP coalition in Kyrgyzstan, in a visioning exercise for what impact members want out of their work. . The visioning exercise is part of the last phase of PWYP’s extensive strategy development process: the alignment phase. Its objective is that all coalitions have a domestic version of Vision 20/20 by the end of 2014. What Ms Nurjamal wanted above all was  a fair deal for her country so that citizens can reap the benefits from their natural resources today and tomorrow.

Her statement was one of many that referred  to the Publish Why You Pay and How You Extract pillar of Vision 20/20. This pillar includes all those stages in the citizen’s value chain or Chain for Change that determine whether a country is getting a fair deal for their natural resources.  Other members expressed a desire to double government’s take from any extractive project as well as having completely disaggregated or project-level reporting. 

The latter is extremely important for the members of the civil society coalition in Kyrgyzstan as the majority of their members operate at subnational  (‘provincial’) and  community (‘rayon’) level. Due to the long history of strong citizen engagement, communities have often exercised their rights by setting up road blocks and other means of sabotage when they felt they were not being heard or respected. Communities feeling forced to resort to direct action has not helped bring about a fruitful relationship between the various constituencies.

To this end the coalition has set up so-called ‘public receptions’ that function as a liaison between  communities, local governments and local companies in order to reduce the existing tensions. The coalition in Kyrgyzstan has also trained members on mediation and conflict prevention, who in  turn work with communities on enhancing the principles of open dialogue and non-confrontation.

Another example of dialogue and open discussion is the online forum, Tree for Life, PWYP’s coordinating member in Kyrgyzstan, has developed and is maintaining (forum.eiti.org.kg).  In just one year 474 messages have been exchanged to discuss community issues, by far the most among the four topical categories. This is thanks to easy access to the internet at provincial level, a high literacy rate as well as the trust that Tree for Life has built up over the years among its members as well as external stakeholders.

The two latest EITI reports, from 2010 and 2011,show disaggregation by revenues and company but not by project. Fortunately the newly adopted EITI standard requires project level reporting, which will make it more relevant to communities who want to use EITI data.  Kyrgyzstani PWYP members were in general very excited about the potential of the new EITI standard -  particularly with regards to  better licence transparency the standard promotes but also  due to its inclusion of the linkages to where the revenues go into the budget. Ultimate beneficial ownership triggered their interest as the true owners of the licence holders are often not known.  And the ultimate recommendation? To train the entire civil society coalition and not just’ a privileged few’ on the new EITI standard, train them on its full potential as they are seen as its progressive force. That, in addition to a good fiscal regime, will make  Ms Amatova Nurjamal and her people happy!