10 January 2014, London – Following reports in the New Vision that the Government of Uganda is seeking a $115m World Bank loan for its Oil Region Development Project, Global Witness is calling for greater transparency in the murky oil sector before the World Bank approves any future funding.
“The World Bank should not hand over more money to the Government of Uganda without concrete guarantees that it will manage its oil and mining sectors, and the revenues they generate, with complete transparency,” said George Boden, a campaigner at Global Witness.
Oil has the potential to help lift millions out of poverty but, if managed badly, also risks entrenching corruption and poor governance in Uganda, as it has in other resource rich countries.
“Transparency is absolutely key to ensuring that ordinary people benefit from their country’s oil wealth. Unfortunately Uganda’s oil sector has so far been shrouded in secrecy.
Oil deals have been done behind closed doors, oil contracts have not been made public and it is not currently possible to see whether payments from oil companies end up in the budget or not,” said Boden.
Despite repeated promises the Ugandan government has also so far failed to take concrete steps towards joining the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative – a key indicator of political will. Aid donors need to be sure that all government assets, including oil, are managed properly before pumping their own money into the system.
“Uganda’s donors should insist on total transparency in the oil and mining sectors, from how deals are done in the first place to how money from the sector is managed. This should be a non-negotiable condition for future World Bank lending,” said Boden.
– Global Witness