Recent Articles

Applications are now open for a two-week summer course, "Developing Local Economies through Inclusive Policies and Planning," to be held at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Led by Revenue Watch partner the Local Government Initiative, the course will equip policy-makers and practitioners with strategies for improving sub-national economies. Learn more and apply ... (CEU)

Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In the November issue, Ecuador completes its oil contract renegotiations; PEMEX allows private exploration and production; and Peru seeks to amend hydroelectric concession process in the Amazon.
On October 14, more than a dozen journalists from Cameroon and other countries met with the Revenue Watch Institute and Transparency International in Yaoundé to discuss the findings of the Revenue Watch Index, the first comparative measure of government disclosure about the oil, gas and mining industries in 41 resource-rich countries.
In October RWI and Transparency International launched a pioneering measurement of government disclosure in the management of oil, gas, and minerals. Together with the International Budget Partnership's Open Budget Survey 2010, the Revenue Watch Index offers a complementary overview of transparency levels across countries.
The Revenue Watch Institute congratulates our colleagues in the international Publish What You Pay coalition for winning the 2010 Commitment to Development "Ideas in Action" Award. PWYP was particularly commended for its role in helping pass the Cardin-Lugar transparency provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
In September 2010, economist Edwin Truman published a book on Sovereign Wealth Funds—the range of reserve funds often used by resource rich countries investing revenues internationally. Sovereign Wealth Funds: Threat or Salvation, assesses some of the regulatory concerns and international tensions over these funds. Truman says SWFs have "matured under the glare of international attention." He talked with Revenue Watch about his research.
In October, the Open Society Justice Initiative published a new report from law professor James G. Stewart that seeks to renew millenia-old prohibitions on wartime theft, or pillaging, through action at international and domestic criminal courts--particularly as pillaging applies to the illegal exploitation of natural resources by corporations and their officers.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In the October issue, Peru-Petro offers blocks for oil and gas exploration and Bolivia's government postpones the release of a critical new report on national gas reserves.
In June, the World Bank published Demanding Good Governance: Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa—a collection of case studies from across the continent that showcases citizen campaigns to enhance government accountability and transparency. Revenue Watch's Dauda Garuba and co-author John G. Ikubaje contributed a chapter, "The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and Publish What You Pay Nigeria," highlighting a lesson in government and civil society cooperation.
The Open Budget Survey 2010, released today in Washington, D.C., reveals that 74 of the 94 countries assessed do not meet basic standards of transparency with their national budgets. The report is produced every two years based on an independent comparison of budget transparency and accountability around the world. The new survey finds that just seven of the 94 countries release extensive budget information, and 40 countries release no meaningful budget information.
Senior financial and development experts today supported the Natural Resource Charter (NRC) as a guide for societies managing oil or mineral wealth. "Natural resources can be a lifeline to prosperity," Charter co-author Professor Paul Collier said in Washington, D.C., "but harnessing their potential is both technically and politically challenging." Collier led a panel discussion during IMF/World Bank meetings, debating how countries can best choose between saving and spending windfalls from natural resources.
The Revenue Watch Index is a pioneering measurement of government disclosure in the management of oil, gas and minerals, ranking transparency in 41 countries among the world's top producers of petroleum, gold, copper and diamonds. The index is an assessment and comparison of information published by governments about revenues, contract terms and other key data. It is an important tool for elected officials, policy makers, civil society and media seeking increased public disclosure about natural resource management, and greater government accountability.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In the September issue, Brazil's PETROBRAS raises US $70 billion in the world's largest share offering and Colombia's Congress discusses a bill that would modify royalty distribution.
Revenue Watch was heartened by President Obama's strong praise for open government in his address to the UN General Assembly. Obama also welcomed new U.S. requirements for company reporting of extractive industry payments, during comments to the Millennium Development Goals Summit.
Based on a methodical assessment of 41 resource-rich countries, the Revenue Watch Index is the first attempt to measure and compare the information governments disclose about the oil, gas and mining industries. On October 6 in Washington, D.C., leaders and experts from Revenue Watch and Transparency International will meet to discuss the findings of the index and their implications for governments, citizens, civil society groups and the media.
Opportunities for the disclosure of contracts in the extractive sector of Kazakhstan were the focus of an international conference, "Extractive Industry Contracts Disclosure: Making Development Sustainable," attended by prominent Kazakh lawyers and leading experts in the development of model mining development agreements. The event, which also marked the Russian- and Kazakh-language launch of RWI's 2009 report Contracts Confidential, was jointly organized by the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan, the Revenue Watch Institute and the International Bar Association.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue August 31, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago sign a gas pact; Bolivian President Evo Morales modifies the iron territory granted to Jindal Steel; and Brazil weighs reducing its gas imports from Bolivia.
When companies sell their oil and gas assets before production has even begun, they may turn a profit long before the host country can collect the tax revenues typically associated with production. The prospect of an immediate upside for industry with uncertain or delayed benefits for countries has sparked a debate over capital gains taxes on pre-production sales. Analyst and RWI advisor Keith Myers reviews current controversies in Uganda and Ghana, using these emerging oil nations to make the case for clearer extractive sector taxation rules.
Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers responds to a recent Wall Street Journal article on the new energy sector reporting rules in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, calling on oil companies to demonstrate their commitment to a more level competitive field by supporting global standards for better disclosure practices.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue August 15, a Bolivian gas find may increase exports to Argentina; Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA presents its annual financial report; and Chile's lithium framework is challenged.
A year after Peru witnessed deadly conflicts over hydrocarbon exploitation in the Amazon, the nation's Congress has passed a law clarifying the right of indigenous peoples to advance consultation concerning extractive industry activities on their lands. Claudia Viale and Felipe Bedoya of RWI's Latin America office explore the issue.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. In issue July 15, Peru considers a windfall profit tax; Chile seeks royalty increases to help earthquake-damaged regions; and Colombia's oil production approaches one million barrels per day.
The Wall Street reforms passed by Congress include historic transparency rule changes for the oil and mining industry, giving investors and citizens new tools to hold companies and governments accountable for their actions. Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers called the victory "the culmination of a long campaign by Revenue Watch and the Publish What You Pay coalition to make extractive industry activities truly transparent, in the U.S. and abroad."
This May, the government of Uganda circulated a draft Petroleum Bill for the management of the country's emerging oil sector. In a new analysis of the bill from the Revenue Watch Institute, Professor Robert. D. Langenkamp concludes that, despite several positive attributes, the new bill leaves many questions unanswered and many problems unaddressed.
To promote sustainable economic development, the government of Nigeria is considering the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, a savings tool that could protect against oil price volatility. But, according to a new RWI analysis, Nigeria risks repeating patterns of weak economic governance and volatile spending unless its new Fund features certain safeguards. Read more and download the full briefing paper.