U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron set his sights on oil, gas and mining companies in his drive for greater corporate and government transparency ahead of the summit of G-8 industrialized nations next month.
Cameron, who will chair the summit in Northern Ireland in June, singled out the sector as he outlined his plans to forge an international deal to tackle tax evasion and avoidance and increase the openness of corporations.
“We must lift the veil of secrecy that too often lets corrupt corporations and officials in some countries run rings around the law,” Cameron wrote in an op-ed column for today’s Wall St Journal. “The G-8 must move towards a global common standard for resource-extracting companies to report all payments to governments, and in turn for governments to report those revenues. This will encourage more investment in resource-rich countries and level the playing field for business.”
Cameron will raise these issues with President Barack Obama today in talks in Washington at the start of a three-day visit to the U.S.
Business will need to take its share of responsibility for openness and help ensure the mineral wealth of developing countries is “a blessing rather than a curse,” Cameron wrote in the column, which his office e-mailed to journalists.
“We need business to make the case for new openness about who really owns and controls every company,” he said. “We must all work harder to secure and fully implement the new standard that will see oil, gas and mining companies reporting project by project payments across the world without exception.”
The secrecy that allowed the diamond trade to finance conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia “shames” the world, Cameron said.
“We must make sure openness delivers the benefits it should for rich economies and developing countries alike,” he said. “When countries open up to cross-border trade, and global supply chains, they need to know that they will see the benefits in jobs, fair tax revenues and economic growth. So we need global rules that prevent tax evasion and aggressive avoidance, and enable governments to collect the taxes they are owed.”