Friday 3 June 2011

Natural resources transparency decree

Global Witness has rightly welcomed the publishing of a ministerial decree requiring the disclosure of contract information relating to oil, mining and forestry. Signed on 20 May, the decree could be considered as a useful step in enabling Congo’s fragile civil society to presure government for more transparency in what has so far been a realm of shady deal-making.

The Global Witness press release also emphasizes the need to ensure that the decree is correctly implemented. This is the real challenge. Le Potentiel of 5 June comments that: ‘Des clauses contractuelles secrètes ... peuvent être envisagées et les moyens d’évasion fiscale sont si sophistiqués que même un gouvernement, fortement déterminé, a du mal à éradiquer la corruption’.

Given the high economic stakes, it is illusory to think that officials in high places will not be able to circumvent the terms of the new decree. The non-respect of the December 2005 presidential decree about forestry could be an indication. The secrecy surrounding the Congo-China six billion dollar barter deal is another example of Congolese non-transparency.

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