Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A letter to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

Dear friends,

By now you must know that though I harbor some reservations I support most of your initiatives, and most specially their spirit. That said…

In the video “Making resources work for people” that is posted on your web Obiagely “Oby” Ezekwesili says that “It ought to be the case that these revenues [from natural resources] can transform the life of the citizens but then you see the opposite happen.. It is the challenge to move the benefits of the natural resources out of the hold of a smaller club of people and instead diversify the opportunity that it offers to a larger number of people that is what will reverse the curse and that is the most important issue of the day for mineral rich countries.”

I could not agree more. And that is why I hereby express my deepest reservation about your second principle that says:

“We affirm that management of natural resource wealth for the benefit of a country’s citizens is in the domain of sovereign governments to be exercised in the interests of their national development.”

The management of natural resource wealth for the benefit of a country’s citizens should be managed by the country’s citizens... otherwise, how will they ever learn how to manage it? The role of the government is to provide government not manage wealth for the voters.

Also, in the same video, Peter Sutherland Chairman of the Board of BP, talking sort of both for the consumers and the producers of oil, expresses that a steady predictable supply of natural resources at a reasonable price is in the interest of everyone... and that stability and predictability is dependent on good governance... for which transparency is a very important component.

I agree completely, on the first part, but instead of transparency on the status quo, and which I have equated to being able to see when the torturer extract your nails, I would much rather prefer that Peter Sutherland would help intermediate between oil producing and oil consuming countries in order to offer directly to all the citizens of an oil producing country, the true shareholders of oil, long term take up contracts, which would provide them with equitable and stable dividends and the consumers with equitable and stable oil prices.

Sincerely yours

Per Kurowski

An oil cursed citizen.