Transparency urged to tackle corruption

AUSTRALIA has been urged to follow in the footsteps of other nations when it comes to stamping out corruption by reporting all payments to governments in other countries in which they operate.
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Lauren Barrett

Publish What You Pay Coalition – a global network of civil society organisations made up of more than 650 member organisations across the world – believes Australia should stamp out corruption by implementing measures adopted in the US and the EU. This would see mining and gas companies based and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange report payments made in the countries they are doing business in.

The call coincides with tomorrow’s two-day Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Global conference in Sydney, where hundreds of government officials, mining companies and NGOs will come together.

Publish What You Pay Australia coordinator Claire Spoors said that as other counties move to make mining payments to governments more transparent, the time was right for Australia to adopt new reporting rules.

“This week, all eyes are on Australia to see if we follow the rest of the world in introducing new rules that aim to stamp out corruption and help people in poverty,” Spoors said.

“More than 60 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in countries rich in natural resources, but they rarely share in the wealth.”

“The passing of the financial reform in 2010 called the Dodd Frank legislation was followed by recently agreed EU rules in which companies are required to disclose payments such as taxes, royalties, fees and bonuses to governments where they operate at a project level.”

In turn, companies will be able to find out how much their government will receive in return for the extraction of natural resources.

Furthermore, UK Prime Minister David Cameron last week called on other countries to bring in payment disclosure legislation.

Spoors said secrecy and corruption often resulted in the income from natural resources going missing and not benefiting communities.

“The starting point for tackling corruption, fraud and poor governance in the natural resources sector is transparency,” Spoors said.