IFTI Watch Notes: Sachs Urges Contract Disclosure

15 October 2010

Sachs on Transparency:  Columbia University economics professor Jeffrey Sachs, speaking in Washington recently, stressed the importance of transparency to help resource-rich countries harness the benefits of such wealth, according to an article in the Huffington Post by Chad Dobson, director of the Bank Information Center and staffer Rebecca Harris. Sachs stressed the importance of releasing contract terms “and asserted that it was because of the confidentiality of such contracts that governments could not compare terms with other similarly resource-rich countries,” according to the article.

“I think this is something that really needs to be busted open completely, in my view, because the companies’ interests in the confidentiality, I think, are rarely suitable grounds for maintaining the confidentiality, vis-à-vis the public and the high social costs of having many of the contracts remain confidential has been extraordinary,” Sachs said.

Dobson and Harris wrote:

Such strong statements in favor of transparency for extractive industry projects are timely, in that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, is in the process of reviewing and revising their Sustainability Policy, Performance Standards and Disclosure Policy. Currently, the IFC lacks a meaningful requirement of extractive industry contract disclosure between IFC clients and the host governments.

Revenue Watching: Revenue Watch Institute has released its 2010 Revenue Watch Index, an assessment of government-published data, such as contract terms and revenues related to oil, gas and mineral resources.

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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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