New European strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility More transparency is good news for people in developing countries

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Tuesday, the European Commission has presented a package of measures to support entrepreneurship and responsible business. The international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE welcomes the Commission’s proposal to introduce a system of Country-and-Project Reporting for extractive and forestry companies, which would have to be more open about taxes, royalties and bonuses paid worldwide. It could therefore increase transparency, countering corruption and opaque dealings.


CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles said: “Country-and-project reporting might seem an abstract term, but it can make a very concrete and positive impact. If data about payments are broken down country by country, and even project-by-project, people of developing countries will finally be able to hold their government accountable for the revenues they get from natural resources.”


The system proposed by the European Commission would apply to payments made to governments by EU privately-owned large companies or companies listed in the EU that are active in the oil, gas, mining or logging sectors. Country and project reporting is a different concept from regular financial reporting as it presents financial information for every country that a company operates in, rather than a single set of information at a global level. Reporting taxes, royalties and bonuses that a multinational pays their government will allow citizens to demand accountability for these revenues.


“At the same time much more information would be needed for citizens to know if they are getting a fair share from big companies in their country. We therefore hope that a future review of country-and-project reporting requirements will cover a much broader range of transnational companies and will require reporting not only on payments to governments but also on other financial information such as profit or losses and labour costs,” Nilles said.


Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, President of the Justice and Peace Commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), addressed the issue of transparency when he visited Brussels last week ahead of the DRC elections in November.


“International companies are interested in our gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and timber – it’s only fair that Congolese citizens have clear information about their activities in our country. For too long the illicit exploitation of natural resources has fuelled conflict in our country. Peace is possible for countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, but only if the causes of violence are addressed. We therefore neednew standards in transparency for oil, mining and logging companies,” Ambongo said.