Canada moves to increase transparency in the extractive industries globally
On Monday June 1st, 2015, the Government of Canada announced that the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA) has come into force, a move that was welcomed by members of the Publish What You Pay coalition around the world.
The ESTMA, which was enacted in December 2014, requires public and private oil, gas and mining companies in Canada to publish the payments that they make to all levels of government both in Canada and internationally. Its adoption follows the enactment of similar pieces of legislation in the United States, the European Union and Norway.
Such laws stem from the recognition that in many countries, citizens are kept in the dark about the revenues generated from their natural resources. This lack of transparency has fuelled corruption and mismanagement in many resource-rich countries and has kept citizens from participating in important debates about how these collectively-owned and finite resources are managed. This is most prominent in some of the world’s poorest yet resource-rich countries, where citizens are failing to benefit from the wealth beneath their soil.
“Given the prominence of Canadian extractive companies in Canada and abroad, this law will significantly increase transparency of payments to governments on a global scale” said Kady Seguin, Acting Director of Publish What You Pay Canada. “Citizens and civil society organizations around the world can now begin to have the information they need to hold their governments accountable for the wealth generated from their natural resources”.
There are over 1700 publicly listed oil, gas and mining companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Venture Exchange combined, and, in 2010, Natural Resources Canada reported that Canadian companies were operating in over 100 countries around the world.
“This law comes very timely for civil society in Guinea,” said Taran Diallo, Coordinator of Publish What You Pay Guinea and Chair of PWYP’s Global Council. “Now that Canada and Guinea signed a treaty to protect and promote Canadian mining investments in Guinea it is even more important that civil society has access to the revenues at a project level for all registered and listed companies in Canada. This will allow us to follow the money.”
The adoption of the ESTMA largely followed the recommendations released by the Resource Revenue Transparency Working Group (RRTWG), a collaboration between Publish What You Pay Canada, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, the Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.
“The coming into force of the ESTMA in Canada, along with the support given by the Canadian mining industry, serves to reinforce that a global standard is emerging whereby the disclosure of payments to governments at a project-level is becoming the norm” said Marinke Van Riet, the International Director of Publish What You Pay.
PWYP-Canada will continue to engage with the Government of Canada in an effort to ensure that the information disclosed in ESTMA reports is accessible and usable for citizens according to the Open definition.
PWYP-Canada is the Canadian coalition of Publish What You Pay, a global network of over
800 civil society organizations united in their call for oil, gas and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of citizens in resource-rich countries: www.pwyp.ca; www.publishwhatyoupay.org
Publish What You Pay Canada
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