G-8 Transparency Theme Prompts Suggestions

14 June 2013

With transparency as one of its main themes, the G-8 meeting June 17-18 in Northern Ireland is expected to generate a renewed call for requring more transparency by the extractive industries and possibly the  issuance of an open data charter.

In addition, requiring countries to reveal the true beneficial owners of shell companies and trusts is under discussion, according to pre-meeting news reports, with some objections being heard. Other major topics on the agenda include tax havens, trade and Syria.

The G8 science ministers June12 issued a joint statement in which they said they “recognise the potential benefits of immediate global access to and unrestricted use of published peer-reviewed, publicly funded research results.”

Transparency Actions Urged

Advocates for various causes have taken note of the transparency theme, chosen as one key topic by the host, the United Kingdom, and offered suggestions and commentary.

Advocates have unveiled information by “showing that G8 countries still have a long way to go in releasing essential information as open data.” The chart was developed by the Open Knowledge Foundation. The results for G-8 countries are online at: http://census.okfn.org/g8/

Rufus Pollock, Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “We’re delighted that many G8 countries have indicated their support for open data but today’s results show that progress is lagging behind promise. We call upon them to make good on their commitments and take a leading role in opening up the world’s data, to enable real transparency and accountability.”

The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST), supported by the UK, issued an open letter calling for G-8 support, saying it may have to end due to lack of funds.

The British group ONE urged the G-8 leaders “to improve tax transparency and crack down on the use of secret companies so that developing countries can retain the resources they need to invest in poverty reduction,” according to blog post by transparency policy director Alan Hudson.. ONE has also been calling on G8 leaders to put in place rules that will require their oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to governments for access to their natural resources.

In addition, “ONE expects the G8 to launch an Open Data Charter.” It added, “This will help to make government data available in open formats so people can use it to follow the money from oil revenues, through budget processes, to achieving results. This is good news, but we have questions as to whether the charter will be sufficiently ambitious and relevant to developing countries.”

ONE said the G8 and African governments should launch a number of “Transparency Partnerships, “with the support of civil society and the private sector, so that citizens and accountability institutions in developing countries can use data to follow the money, strengthen accountability and deliver improved development results.

Marta Foresti of the Overseas Development Institute warned that the G-8 governments “need to deliver specific commitments to use transparency regulations to achieve changes in key areas where they have an influence:  illicit financial flows, tax dodging, regulation on extractive industries, avoiding land grabs. Generic calls for greater ‘transparency and accountability’ to ensure citizens’ participation in poor countries risk detracting the attention from the core agenda.”

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Filed under: 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).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
1-(703) 276-7748