Should PNG follow the Congo and publish all resource contracts online?

The Bloomberg news service is reporting the Democratic Republic of Congo will make all resource contracts public within 60 days of signing (see below). 

Like PNG, the Congo has large mineral, oil and timber reserves and like PNG, a lack of transparency and corruption are two of the problems blighting the resource sector.

The initiative in the Congo could therefore provide an interesting example for PNG to follow.

But greater transparency in PNG's resource sector will not alone cure all our problems. There also needs to be a much greater effort made to properly identify affected landholders and obtain their free informed prior consent before any contracts are signed. 

There also needs to be a much greater effort made to ensure resource rents are properly used to improve local services and that where possible negative environmental or social impacts are identified a precautionary approach is used.

We should remember that major resource projects are not going to make ordinary Papua New Guinea's financially rich and far greater investment in rural agriculture could have many more lasting benefits than our present obsession with multi-billion dollar projects.

Congo to publish all oil, gas, timber and mining contracts online

By Michael Kavanagh

The Democratic Republic of Congo will make all contracts involving mineral, timber, oil and gas concessions public within 60 days of signing, the government said.

Documents will be published in the official government gazette, as well as on ministry websites and in at least two Congolese daily newspapers, according to a decree signed by the Prime Minister and Ministers of Environment, Hydrocarbons, and Mines on May 20. The decree was published on the Mines Ministry’s website yesterday.

Congo has a third of the world’s cobalt, 4 percent of its copper, and deposits of gold, tin ore and diamonds. The Central African country has the second-largest tropical forest in the world and is in the process of offering licenses for oil exploration.

Four decades of dictatorship and war destroyed most of Congo’s infrastructure and devastated its economy. The World Bank, which has been pushing for Congo to make its contracts public to increase transparency in the natural-resource industry, named the country as one of the most difficult places in the world to do business in its 2011 Doing Business guide, ranking it 175 out of 183 nations surveyed.