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OpenGov Conversations: Alice Powell on Creating Effective Transparency Policies

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Before delving into how transparency policies work, and under which conditions, we need to unpack what these terms mean for the extractive industry. Transparency policies and interventions are designed to bring light to aspects of natural resource management which have been shrouded in secrecy. This can include the basis on which a certain company was chosen for a project or the tax payments a company has made. Making this information available empowers citizens to ask how their revenues were spent or why a contract went to a certain company. This helps prevent deliberate mismanagement (giving a company a contract because your brother-in-law owns it) and also mismanagement due to lack of competence (local authorities not properly collecting taxes). Our goal is ultimately for all citizens to benefit from their natural resources. Without transparency, this isn’t possible. How can you know a community is receiving the correct amount for its natural resources, if you don’t know how much a company has paid in taxes? Transparency works through small and incremental steps, not as a silver bullet. Transparency policies enable and empower actors to ask the right questions and supports them in their campaign for change.

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