Last year’s meeting in Cape Town was overshadowed by pessimism in the wake of tumbling commodity prices and organizers tried to boost morale by encouraging participants to look “beyond the cycle.” But this year the buzz word for multilaterals was sustainability.
Since 2013, the EITI Standard has “encouraged” public disclosure of contracts. And while it is difficult to attribute causality to policy change, since the release of the 2013 EITI Standard, nine new countries released contracts, and nine enacted laws that require contract disclosure.
It has been notoriously difficult for citizens in resource-rich countries to lay hands on extractive industry contracts and licenses between their governments and private sector extractive companies. But that seems to be changing.
As thousands gather in Paris for the Open Government Partnership Global Summit, Tunisia provides one powerful example of how open government can support trust and collaboration between government and citizens.
A 10-year boom in the prices of many commodities drew to a close last year. During previous booms, governments in developing countries have often squandered wealth accumulated through oil, gas and minerals, directing little of the proceeds toward effective investment or saving. When boom turned to bust, resource-rich countries were caught out, forced into debt spirals.
Secrecy around the agreements that governments strike with extractive companies for the exploitation of natural resources is a critical issue. Without access to this information, how can interested citizens be sure that the government negotiated a decent deal on their behalf, or that the company involved is paying its taxes correctly?