Yesterday we scored a big victory, with the US Senate passing an amendment to the Financial Regulation Bill that will dramatically enhance transparency efforts in developing countries. The Cardin-Lugar Transparency amendment makes it mandatory for all oil, gas and mining companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange to disclose what they pay to foreign governments for the right to extract natural resources. Placing these numbers in the hands of local civil society will help them hold their governments to account and cut down on corruption.
ONE members in the US played a massive role in this success, making more than 1,000 calls to the Senate and helping to secure enough support for the amendment’s sponsors. This made an enormous difference in our efforts to get it included in the final bill.
Now attention has turned to the UK. We need similar legislation over here so that companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, but not in New York, will also have to open up their books. The good news is that we’ve already started. On Tuesday ONE held a reception with the Publish What You Pay coalition for MPs and members of the House of Lords to explain to them exactly what was happening in the US, and how they could bring in similar rules in the UK. Author Michaela Wrong, whose most recent book looked at corruption in Kenya, gave a fantastic speech on how corruption and development are so closely linked.
Author Michaela Wrong speaking at the event in London
Speaking today ONE’s Executive Director Jamie Drummond had this to say about the bill’s passage:
“This legislation is a great lever to support more transparency and healthier governance in poor countries. Natural resources should be for the benefit of all citizens, not lining the pockets of corrupt elites.
If companies report what they pay, local people can hold their leaders to account on the money they receive and ensure it goes to services desperately needed in resource rich countries in Africa, like healthcare, education and clean water.
The US has set the path for greater transparency and reduced corruption in the extractive industries, the UK must now follow suit.”
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