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My hearty congratulations to CGD visiting fellow John Briscoe, who was today named the winner of the Stockholm Water Prize for his CGD-typical fusion of research with policy action. John is an engineer who thinks like an economist and is a scholar, researcher and policy maker par excellence. Here at CGD we have been fortunate to have him as a key contributor to our Pakistan Study Group, and a champion of US support for investments there and elsewhere in crucially needed water infrastructure for clean and renewable hydroelectric power, flood control, and water storage and irrigation.
John will receive the Award from the King of Sweden at a ceremony in Stockholm in September. Whether or not water is near the top of your development concerns (it should be!) I recommend this inspiring new Wonkcast interview in which John explains the passions that have driven his remarkable career.
CGD blog posts reflect theviews of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.
The US Department of the Interior announced last week that the United States would no longer seek to comply with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international multi-stakeholder organization that aims to increase revenue transparency and accountability in natural resource extraction. The move—while disappointing—is not altogether unexpected. And sadly, it will put the United States further behind the curve when it comes to corporate transparency.
If transparency in debates around matters of natural resource wealth, then so too does the way that figures get translated into public debates. Earlier this month the Lusaka Times published a claim that multinational mining companies were “robbing Zambia of an estimated $3billion annually through tax evasion and illicit financial flows.” I have written about the Zambia Copper Billions before. I don’t think the figure is at all credible, and I am not the only one. Organisations that have allowed this myth to spread have not done any favours to the people of Zambia, and they have a responsibility to put it right.
In May, President Magufuli of Tanzania appointed two special committees to investigate the contents of 277 containers stuck at Dar-es-Salaam. The committees' belief that they have uncovered a case of massive misinvoicing (i.e., misrepresentation of the value or quantity of exports) does not seem plausible for five reasons. For starters, the scale of mineral smuggling required for it to be true is implausible.
In a recent trip to the center of the world, I found myself confronting the big development questions in a low-income country with reasonably propitious circumstances. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is larger, richer, and growing faster than I had thought. It will go to the polls this very month to elect a new government. It is also facing all the dilemmas faced by most low-income countries since the 1950s—political fragmentation, resource curses, income inequality, and poor health. Have we learned anything to help it meet those challenges?