Sarkozy backs Africa transparency laws: think tank

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated plans Tuesday to spearhead efforts to force major companies extracting oil or diamonds in Africa to say how much they pay local regimes, a think tank said.

Members of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, met with the French leader in Paris to find out what he was planning to do for Africa during his stint as G20 leader.

"Sarkozy committed himself very passionately to having mandatory rules introduced to make companies state what they pay," said panel member Peter Eigen, the head of the Transparency International corruption watchdog.

Sarkozy has previously promised get fellow European Union leaders to follow the lead of the United States and adopt legislation forcing major companies in the extractive sector to publish what they pay to host countries.

Campaigners say such laws would help reveal the billions of dollars pocketed by governments in poor countries that are rich in natural resources like with oil and diamonds but whose people mostly live in poverty.

The United States last year passed a law obliging all energy and mining firms registered with US stock exchanges to disclose not only what they pay to the US government but also to foreign oil, gas and mineral-producing states.

Eight members of the APP -- including Annan, singer Bob Geldof, and Nigerian ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo -- met Tuesday with Sarkozy to discuss how the G20 group of big developed and developing states might tackle African problems.

Sarkozy has said that as G20 leader he wants to implement plans for world finance reform which he said aimed to defend poor and emerging economies.

The panel was set up to monitor commitments made at the Group of Eight summit in 2005 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

In its 2010 annual report it said Africa's growing wealth needed to be spread beyond the confines of powerful elites and that governments must come clean about opaque mining and oil deals.

The report identified poor governance and creaking transport and power infrastructure as the main impediments to the continent of a billion people

© 2011 AFP

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