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In Brief

Photo by NS Newsflash from Flickr Creative Commons.

Our Tajikistan page is now live!

A report on the impact of gold mining in Northern Canada not only reveals that Inuit women are losing out, but also presents an interesting example for why revenue transparency and project-level reporting are needed.

PWYP Zimbabwe calls for transparency of corporate social investment projects.

Activists around the world unite in telling the SEC – no secret deals

Earlier this week, more than 500 civil society organisations from resource-rich countries around the world wrote to the SEC, urging the commission to issue a strong extractive transparency rule.

Dodd-Frank 1504 obliges all extractive companies listed in the US to publish their payments at project level to every government where they operate. This law is set to release crucial information about extractive revenues, but, following a lawsuit from the American Petroleum Institute, the Securities and Exchange Commission is obliged to reissue the implementing rule before the law can come into effect.

Civil society is calling on the SEC to reissue a rule that does not allow for exemptions and that requires fully public, project-level disclosure of payments. This is in line with recent transparency legislation in the EU and Norway.

This letter is testament to the fact that the desire for transparency is truly global. Local activists are calling for companies to publish what they pay – the US, in order to protect its leadership on transparency – should heed that call.

Read the letter.

Read the press release.

Extracting gold in Kyrgyzstan - blessing or curse?

Photo by STATIC6 from Flickr Creative Commons.

Here, our Eurasia coordinator writes about the Kumtor mine in Kyrgyzstan, where opacity and a lack of dialogue have resulted in local residents struggling to see the benefits of extracting. Furthermore, there have been doubts over whether the regional authority is wisely spending company payments – some suspect the extractive revenues are funding pet schemes rather than projects that would benefit everyone. Once we have project-level reporting, civil society in Kyrgyzstan will be better able to follow the money and make sure it goes to the right places. The company operating in Kumtor would be covered by mandatory disclosure rules in Canada, highlighting the importance of Canada’s commitment to implement such transparency rules by April 2015.

With proven reserves worth $52 billion, Kumtor is one of the biggest gold mines in Central Asia, contributing 10% to the nation’s GDP. This great national treasure should be seen as a blessing to the Kyrgyz nation, so how did it become a curse?

Local residents are failing to see benefits from the mines’ profits. A farmer from a neighbouring village claimed that, “Barscoon actually could be a prospering village but look around - life hasn’t changed much since the Kumtor gold mine opened.” For others, the mine has actually had a negative impact on their lives. In 1998 a company truck loaded with toxic cyanide crashed into the Barscoon River. Nearly two tonnes of poison contaminated the water and thousands became ill. A villager explained how “We’re having problems with bad roads and water. We get our drinking water from the river, which is very dirty. This is very difficult for us.”

Commercial gold production in Kumtor began more than 15 years ago - it should have brought enough wealth for mining region but figures show that citizens in nearby villages are living on the poverty line

The Kumtor deal has been mired in claims of corruption and the government is believed to have lost out on potential revenues following a dodgy deal in 2009. Yet even the revenues that are being paid are not being used to the full benefit of local citizens.

1% of Kumtor’s revenue is transferred to the region, Issyk-Kul. In 2013 this amounted to approximately $8 million. The revenues go to a fund managed by a Steering Board made up of representatives from the local authorities and regional administration. The Fund managers have been accused of corruption and of improperly using the money transferred from Centerra - it is suspected that the local authorities and regional administration may have interfered with the management of the fund in order to finance their pet projects...

Read the rest of the blog online.

Greater than the sum of its parts: working towards a regional advocacy strategy in Asia-Pacific

The following is a report on our recent Asia-Pacific forum. Visit our website to read it in full.

150 delegates from 13 countries were welcomed by the President of Bantay Kita-PWYP Philippines, Filomeno Sta. Ana III, to the Publish What You Pay Asia Pacific Regional Forum 2014. The capacity building and strategy event was held over two and a half days, and hosted by Bantay Kita, our affiliated coalition in the Philippines, with support from Revenue Watch Institute, USAID, Christian Aid, British Embassy Manila, Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Institute for Economic and Social Reform (IESR), Publish What You Pay and Bantay Kita.

The aim of the forum was to create a regional advocacy strategy and to engage not only with our existing coalitions (in the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and Cambodia) but also with civil society organisations from other countries in the region who are working on issues relating to transparency and accountability in the extractive sector (including South Korea, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam). With input from all of these countries, as well as UK and US member organisations Global Witness and Global Financial Integrity, we set out to share experiences through a series of workshops and plenary debates.

Topics on day one ranged from the set-up and management of sovereign wealth funds and advancing the debate on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), to the detail of the new EITI Standard and the evolution of mandatory disclosures in the context of the G20…

Read the rest of the article online.

United States becomes an EITI candidate country: A look at the road ahead.

Photo by Rob Lowry from Flickr Creative Commons.

Mia Steinle is the civil society coordinator for USEITI. She is also an investigator at the Project On Government Oversight, where she works to hold the US government accountable for its management of public resources. She lives in Washington, DC.

On March 19, the United States joined a group of more than 40 countries committed to improving natural resources transparency when the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) international board approved the U.S. candidacy application. The application was a collaboration over one year in the making, among the civil society, government, and industry sectors.

While the occasion marked a milestone for USEITI, it's just the beginning of a series of important decisions that will shape extractives reporting in the United States. These decisions will help ensure that the American public gets its due from government management of public resources. Ultimately, perhaps they will nudge other G8 countries to make similar transparency reforms.

The three sectors have so far committed to an unprecedented level of disclosure in the U.S., including revenue transparency of energy sources ranging from oil and gas to hard rock minerals to renewables. The U.S. Interior Department has also committed to disclosing all revenue data it collects on extraction, whether or not it meets the threshold for reconciliation with industry payments. What's more, the USEITI report will include a "publicly sourced narrative," or a collection of existing, authoritative public information about the extractive industries…

Read the rest of the blog online. 

What can transparency bring to Papua New Guinea?

Photo by eGuide Travel from Flickr Creative Commons

It is the country with the most languages in the world, one of the highest numbers of different ethnic groups and also home to the world’s only poisonous bird. Papua New Guinea is rich in culture, rich in biodiversity and also happens to be very rich in natural resources.

It is rich in minerals, with important gold, copper, nickel, cobalt and silver deposits. While oil production is declining, it is progressively being replaced by natural gas production, most famously with the Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas Project run by a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. The country’s resource wealth could be a key component of a development drive, in a country where a third of citizens live in extreme poverty.

Discussions for the country to join the EITI have been underway since 2006. Finally, Papua New Guinea was admitted as a candidate country in March 2014. Represented with seven seats on the national EITI steering committee, civil society welcomes this move towards transparency in a sector that accounts for 70% of export earnings…

Read the rest of the blog online.

How Uganda could benefit from joining EITI

Robert Tumwesigye Baganda is the Executive Director of Pro-biodiversity Conservationists in Uganda, a member organisation of PWYP Uganda. Here, he tells us how Uganda could gain from implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Uganda remains hesitant when it comes to the implementation of EITI. In a recent meeting organized by Global Rights Alert, the minister of Finance indicated that the Ugandan government is ready to sign to EITI, yet did not commit to a date.

It is important for a country rich in natural resources like Uganda to join EITI. Natural resources, such as oil, gas and minerals, belong to Uganda’s citizens. Extraction of these resources could lead to economic growth and social development, but only if principles of transparency and accountability are established. However, when poorly managed, natural resources and extraction can lead to corruption and even conflict. More openness around how Uganda manages its natural resource wealth is necessary to ensure that these resources can benefit all citizens.

The resource curse is not inevitable - we hope that if Uganda adopts EITI, the potential negative impacts can be mitigated...

Read the rest of the blog online.

**Update** The State Minister of Energy announced at a recent PWYP Uganda & PWYP Norway event that the country still intends to sign up to the initiative. Find out more online.