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Study: Resource Governance Opaque in Most Countries

  • VOA News

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits copper mine after meeting with villagers whose land was seized prior to extraction, Sarlingyi township, March 14, 2013.

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits copper mine after meeting with villagers whose land was seized prior to extraction, Sarlingyi township, March 14, 2013.

A new study says less than 20 percent of the world's major oil-, gas-, and mineral-rich countries meet satisfactory standards for transparency and accountability.

The Revenue Watch Institute report released Wednesday said the lives of more than a billion citizens worldwide could be transformed if their governments managed natural resources better.

Top Ranked in the Resource Governance Index

1. Norway
2. United States
3. Britain
4. Australia
5. Brazil
6. Mexico
7. Canada
8. Chile

Source: Revenue Watch
Only 11 of the 58 countries in the New York-based group's Resource Governance Index were found to have "embraced openness and accountability." In the others, the report said "opacity, corruption, and weak processes keep citizens from fully benefiting from their countries' resource wealth."

The worst-ranked country was Burma, which received a failing score of just 4 on a scale of 1 to 100. The report described the country's extractive industries as "infamously opaque," saying almost no public information is available on the management of the country's resources.

But the report noted it is "widely assumed that corruption is rampant in the sector and that much of the country's resource revenues have been diverted to the foreign bank accounts of a few government officials."

Revenue Watch says that the worst performing countries depend almost exclusively on revenues from natural resources as their main source of income. It said the most resource-dependent regions, the Middle East and North Africa, are the worst performing.

The most transparent country on the list was Norway, one of the world's major oil and gas exporters, which scored a 98. The United States came in second with a score of 92.

The report noted that key U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, do not manage their resources transparently. It also called on Western countries to "ensure that their multinational companies do not facilitate the opacity found in many countries where they operate."
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