Angola Oil Revenues: A Hidden Report

1 June 2002

It doesn’t look as though the World Bank will be releasing a $2-million "diagnostic" study by the KPMG accounting firm about where Angolan oil revenues have gone. The Bank shouldered 30 percent of the cost of the report, but it says the study is an Angolan government document, which means that disclosure of the findings is all up to authorities in Luanda.

The good news is that both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are pushing Angola pretty hard on transparency. Nongovernmental organizations are also demanding more disclosure.

It’s clear that the benchmark accounting study is political dynamite. Although there has been speculation about how oil revenues have been dissipated, there isn’t much solid to go on. Probably the best report on this issue was made by Human Rights Watch. [For the March 2001 Human Rights Watch, refer to http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/angola/angola-03.pdf]

Another NGO, Global Witness, is monitoring Angolan oil revenues. Its is now involved in efforts to expand the transparency campaign by requiring government security regulators to demand corporate disclosure of revenues paid to individual governments. See this release.

Encouragingly, in its ongoing negotiations with the Angolan government, the IMF seems to be paying attention to the demand for more disclosure about oil revenues and government expenditures. See the Feb. 19 statement from the Fund: http://www.imf.org/external/np/ms/2002/021902.htm

One NGO person said he expects the Fund to require the release of KPMG’s diagnostic study when and if terms for transparency and future lending for Angola are settled. The baseline part of the accounting report appears to be done. A progress report was submitted last spring and there are supposed to be quarterly updates. The "terms of reference" defining the scope of the diagnostic study were leaked, however, leading some to wonder if the final report will really unravel where the oil revenues ended up.

On April 17, this reporter filed a letter with Bank requesting release of the study. So far, there has been no response. Bank policies do not require such requests to be answered.

By Toby McIntosh

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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