Recent Articles

The IBP, which released its annual Open Budget Index for 2008 this February, has created a new brief exploring the importance of budget transparency for donors, to help ensure the effectiveness of aid to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth while preventing leakages, corruption, and mismanagement.
In a policy briefing on resource revenue management in Ghana, Antoine Heuty of RWI and Andrés Mejía Acosta of the Institute of Development Studies explore how domestic political factors may influence development outcomes through the management of natural resource revenues. Though Ghana is among the world's top ten exporters of gold, nearly 80% of the population lives on less than two U.S. dollars per day.
Corruption is widely perceived as a long-standing and influential component of Nigeria's oil sector operations. In a two-part policy brief published by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre which is based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Alexandra Gillies provides an introductory mapping of where this corruption takes place, how it impairs sector operations, and the efforts at its reduction. Gillies is a Fulbright Fellow to Nigeria from the University of Cambridge and co-editor of Smart Aid for African Development.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Revenue Watch Institute today urged policymakers in the United States and abroad to embrace the standards and principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI, whose board meets in Washington, D.C. on Friday, is an international standard for openness in the management of oil, gas and mineral wealth. It calls for cooperation and dialogue among governments, companies, and citizen groups. More than two dozen resource-rich countries, from Peru and Nigeria to Mongolia and Norway, have implemented the EITI to date.
At a meeting last week in Prague, leaders from the European Union and several post-Soviet countries laid the groundwork for a new era of policy cooperation and reform between the EU and Europe's "Eastern neighborhood." The milestone signing of the Southern Corridor Declaration could pave the way for new natural gas import routes from Central Asia that would reduce Europe's heavy energy dependence on Russia and realign the balance of power in the region's energy sector.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue April 21 covers Bolivia adjusting natural gas exports to Argentina; high fuel prices in Latin America; and conflicts over extractive activities increase in Peru.
After statements by Madagascar's newly-installed leader regarding a suspension and review of all national mining contracts, Revenue Watch cautions the nation's leaders against undertaking major extractive reforms during the current period of crisis. On March 30, Andry Rajoelina announced that his government was freezing all mining contracts and had hired auditors to review all agreements.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue April 6 covers Latin American countries' various strategies to mitigate the impact of extractive activity; a partial recovery of mineral and hydrocarbon prices; and obstacles to nationalization initiatives in the extractive sector.
RWI grantee Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) has made impressive headway in its monitoring and advocacy for revenue transparency in Indonesia's oil, gas and mining sectors. The extractive industries in Indonesia accounts for over 20% of the government's revenue, but remain largely opaque. When RWI began working with groups in Indonesia two years ago, it was clear that significant work was needed to enhance public oversight and create change within government systems. ICW's progress exceeded all expectations.
Half a dozen Revenue Watch delegates joined over 500 participants at the fourth EITI Global Conference from February 16 to 18, in Doha, Qatar. Representatives from over 80 countries gathered to celebrate the achievements of the initiative thus far, to share experiences of support and implementation, and discuss ways of moving forward. The Republic of Azerbaijan was accepted as EITI Compliant, becoming the first implementing country to pass the EITI Validation process that determines whether an implementing country has met EITI requirements.
The latest confrontation between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas, and the dispute's immediate impact on Eastern Europe's energy supply, illustrated how energy conflicts in one region can extend over pipelines and supply chains to countries thousands of miles away.
This video from Burma reveals the links between ongoing oppression and profits from the oil and gas industries. Revenue Watch grantee the Shwe Gas Movement presents the little-told story of how residents living atop the largest gas deposit in Southeast Asia lack their own electricity and face massive relocation without compensation to make way for a $52 billion gas development.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue March 20 covers Ecopetrol's ambitious investment plan; Ecuador's withdrawal of Acción Ecológica's operating permit; and Peru's consideration of help for Doe Run.
Revenue Watch partner Global Witness has released a new report, "Undue Diligence: How banks do business with corrupt regimes," examining how major banks are playing a role in perpetuating the resource curse by doing business with unethical regimes. Global Witness has uncovered ties between banks and dictatorial regimes in Equatorial Guinea, vicious civil wars in Africa, human rights abusers in Central Asia and opaque extractive companies operating in Angola.
Though Ecuador is a relatively small oil producer in the world market, oil extraction is still a significant part of its national economy. Recent government reform efforts have sparked a debate over the oil sector's contribution to the country's well-being. In this context, a new report from Revenue Watch partner Grupo Faro clarifies the government's uses of oil revenues and makes recommendations for improved transparency.
Revenue Watch Institute and a team of economists and legal and environmental experts are collaborating on the creation of an international Natural Resource Charter. The pioneering document offers policy makers in resource-rich countries a vision and a blueprint for the future of their country's natural resource sector.
On February 4, 2009, the tenge, Kazakhstan's national currency, lost more than 20 percent of its value against the US dollar, sending shockwaves throughout the economy. Since the summer of 2007, the country's central bank has been doggedly defending the national currency at a rate of 120 tenge per US dollar, with 2 percent fluctuations. Other countries have followed suit, the Jamestown Foundation has reported, with the som, the currency of the Kyrgyz Republic, losing approximately 10 percent of its value in early February, and the Tajik somoni also falling by around 10 percent in the past month. The financial woes of Kazakhstan and its Central Asian neighbors have created what some fear are ripe opportunities for Russian resurgence in the region.
As a new oil-producing "hot spot," Ghana must move forward cautiously and make serious efforts towards transparency, accountability and development, warns a new report from RWI partners Oxfam America and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) in Ghana. Ghana is poised for an oil boom that could flood the country with billions of dollars in new revenue after the discovery of its first major offshore field.
On February 18, Global Integrity launched its 2008 Integrity report, a review of anti-corruption practices in 57 countries. The report compiles the work of hundreds of journalists and researchers from around the world on local anti-corruption safeguards, and includes the group's first-ever reports on Iraq and Somalia.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue February 3 covers Bolivia's new Constitution and its impact on the extractive sector; Latin American extractive companies efforts to find financing; and adjustments in oil price stabilization mechanisms for 2009.
Are natural resource abundance and opaque budgets inextricably linked? The Open Budget Survey 2008—a comprehensive evaluation of budget transparency in 85 countries—finds that resource-dependent countries tend to be less transparent than countries that are not resource dependent.

Today the International Budget Partnership released its Open Budget Index for 2008. The index is a biennial, independent, comparative measure of government budget transparency in 85 countries. This year for the first time, the report includes data on openness and public accountability in China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue January 19 covers Bolivian efforts to diversify markets for its natural gas; Ecuador's announced plans to put the ITT oil field up for bidding; and the wave of layoffs in the extractive sector intensifies across Latin America.
On January 7, 2009, Ghana successfully conducted a peaceful political transition from ex-President John Agyekum Kuffour of the New Patriotic Party, who had been in power since 2000, to President JEA Mills of the National Democratic Congress.
The Mexican Congress has recently approved seven different bills to reform some aspects of its energy sector, including the national oil company's legal regime. The new legislation is based on the idea that it is possible to modernize the state monopoly (Pemex), and reverse a declining trend in production and reserves, without liberalizing the hydrocarbon sector. The objective of this reform is to provide Pemex greater flexibility when pursuing contracts with private companies (for services, leases and procurement of materials), without losing control of strategic decisions or relinquishing ownership over reserves and production.