09 September 2013, Kinshasha – The Congolese parliament should suspend the passage of a controversial oil bill and insert basic measures to prevent corruption and drilling in one of the world’s most important national parks, Global Witness has said.
The group said the oil bill, as currently framed, would bring in an opaque system for allocating oil rights and fail to require the publication of oil contracts or the ultimate owners of oil licences.
This would increase risks of corruption in the sector while leaving open the possibility of drilling in Congo’s national parks and World Heritage Sites.
Global Witness urged the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo to open up the oil bill to public consultation, as it has done with the revision of the country’s mining law.
The Congolese government is discussing the mining law with civil society and the private sector, while there has been no such public consultation on the oil bill. This is despite the contribution of oil revenues to the national budget, which is expected to increase dramatically in the near future after a recent deal with Angola to exploit offshore fields.
“Oil revenues contribute over $325 million to the Congolese state a year, and this is set to rise sharply,” said Nathaniel Dyer, Global Witness Campaigner. “This new oil bill is an opportunity for Congo and its people to benefit from its fledgling oil industry but in its current state it’s not fit for purpose. It’s vital that safeguards are built in now to prevent corruption in the sector.”