Clegg urges transparency over natural resources

13 May 2013
By Edd Gent
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Nick Clegg has pledged to make sure African countries see more of the revenue from their natural resources

Nick Clegg has pledged to make sure African countries see more of the revenue from their natural resources

Nick Clegg says the UK will push for more transparency over payments to African governments by oil, gas and mining companies.

The Deputy Prime Minister pledged that the UK would use its G8 presidency to address "the fundamental barriers to further growth and investment" as he gave a keynote address at the Africa Jubilee Business Forum in London to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union.

With revenues from the continent's oil and mineral reserves already seven times the total value of foreign aid and set to increase further, he said it was vital to ensure African countries saw more of the benefits.

"Over the next decade revenues from newly discovered extractive resources in Africa will increase massively, dwarfing aid volumes. In 2010 exports of oil and minerals from Africa were worth £216bn, nearly seven times the value of international aid in the same year, £31bn,” he said.

"Too often in the past such revenues have bypassed Africans due to unfair tax systems and opaque business deals. Lining the pockets of the few, denying investment and jobs for the many. That has to stop.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has made helping developing nations collect tax revenues and securing better information about the ownership of land and assets a priority for the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next month.

He has ordered an urgent review of the UK's failure to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which publishes payments by firms to governments – something only the US among the G8 had so far done.

Clegg said: "We want to make sure Africans receive their fair share from the resources they have and the business they do. That demands fairer tax rules and greater transparency around what is being paid for oil, gas and mining resources, and where the profits then flow.

"We are pushing for more companies to report on the revenues they pay to governments, and for more governments to report on the revenues they receive.

"The EU has just agreed legislation that will require all oil, gas and mining companies listed in Europe to publish what they pay to governments, in line with the US. Through the G8, we are pushing for equivalent standards to be applied globally.

"The UK helped establish EITI in 2003 and has been one of its staunchest backers. We're now actively considering whether and how the UK should implement this initiative."

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