August 21, 2007
The Resource Curse
It’s been a week since I’ve returned from Bali. It was an amazing time, seeing the numerous representatives from Asia-Pacific countries sharing their stories with the others, on how resources in their respective countries have been exploited for either foreign or Government usage in the past decades.
The resources curse is just the term referred to when resource-rich nations are blessed with oil, minerals, gas, tin and so on, but because of corruption, money is channelled the wrong way to the hands of the people who misuse it.
The Publish What You Pay campaign started in the UK, and has grown to a coalition of more than 300 NGOs all around the world. The coalition calls on resource rich developing governments around the world to publish full details on the money it receives from companies on revenues. This usually takes place in the form of taxes, royalties and dividends.
Then the PWYP came up with an initiative called the EITI: Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which is something Governments can sign onto. This is a voluntary disclosure of accounts within the extractive industries. Countries like Ghana, Mongolia have already signed up to the EITI. Surprisingly, Malaysia being historically one of the countries that has engaged in extractive industry has not any inkling of these two initiatives.
The Malaysia team will be looking at starting something here, so watch this space. This is something I’m pretty excited about. In our country, the issue is not so much about disclosure of information TO the Government. Instead, it is about the transparency of precisely HOW the Government uses the money for national development – and this information is almost impossible to obtain.
In the meantime, I’ve also volunteered to be on the PWYP Asia-Pacific Working Group for its regional network. That means it’ll be easier for us Malaysians to get resources from our neighbour countries!