OSLO, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Oil-rich Norway leant its support on Thursday to a global effort to rub out corruption in the oil, gas and mining industries, and a leading corruption-buster said he hoped other countries would follow suit.
Norway became the first country to commit to implementing fully a set of principles created by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a watchdog body that pushes companies to disclose what they pay to governments for access to resources and governments to dislose what they receive.
Launched in 2002 by then British Prime Minister Tony Blair in response to the Publish What You Pay Campaign, the initiatiave is a coalition of governments, companies, interest groups, investors and international organisations.
EITI board chairman Peter Eigen said it was important industrialised Norway had signed on because it would help overcome suspicions that the EITI was a neo-colonial bid by western nations to tell poor countries how to behave.
“I hope this will help us to get our foot in the door also in China, Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia,” Eigen told a news conference in Oslo where the organisation based its secretariat.
Eigen, founder and former chairman of the corruption-busting organisation Transparency International, said corruption in resource-rich countries led to bad policymaking, poverty, violence and even support for terrorism.
“Corruption is one of the main reasons for the underdevelopment, poverty and misery in many of these countries,” Eigen said.
He said that estimates of money stolen yearly around the globe through corruption ranged up to $1 trillion.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg. The real damage is done by perverting economic policies,” he said.
Norway’s Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim said the EITI’s principles should become the international standard for all the extractive industries.