I am Chairperson of Publish What You Pay Uganda and work for an organisation called Global Rights Alert. In Uganda we are striving to ensure that the recently discovered oil in our country helps us fight poverty, disease and develop economically. Too often African countries rich in natural resources have been plagued by instability, corruption and huge inequality – look at our immediate neighbours, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We need to make sure this doesn’t happen here.
The first step to ensuring oil is a blessing and not a curse is transparency—we need all companies to disclose exactly how much they pay governments for the right to extract natural resources. Armed with such useful information, we are then able to hold our governments to account. Having access to this information challenges vested interests – our colleagues have suffered arrest and harassment in campaigning for transparency – but ultimately it is in the interest of all our citizens that there is access to this information.
You can help to make sure that this happens not just in Uganda but in all developing countries rich in natural resources by asking the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, to take action.
The petition reads: Please make a public statement in support of laws across the EU that will require big oil, gas and other extractive companies to declare exactly how much they are paying developing country governments.
Real momentum is building this year to get this information made public. The United States has already passed a law requiring its companies to publish what they pay other governments and France’s President Sarkozy recently declared his support for similar laws across the EU.
With a major international conference on this issue taking place next month, a statement of support by the UK Chancellor would significantly boost the chances of laws being developed across the EU.
Together we can ensure that natural resources benefit all citizens, not just corrupt elites.
Executive Director, Global Rights Alert and Chairperson, Publish What You Pay – Uganda
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