... plans for the G-8 Summit are taking shape. In addition to tackling the threat of extremism and terrorist violence, and addressing issues around agriculture, food and nutrition at a pre-G8 event, the key issues on the agenda are trade, tax and transparency – government transparency and corporate transparency.
On tax and transparency, a number of issues seem to be competing for attention on the G-8 agenda. These include transparency about the revenues that companies pay to governments to extract oil and other natural resources, transparency about land deals, transparency about tax matters, transparency about who owns and controls shell companies, transparency about budgets, and transparency about development assistance.
Alongside these proposals are others to ensure that the information unleashed by various transparency initiatives is user-friendly and that civil society groups and others are able to make use of that information to hold governments and companies to account.
Faced with a plethora of proposals and initiatives, there is a need both for some prioritization and for a clear and compelling narrative about how the various initiatives will work together to drive progress against poverty and preventable disease. This is fundamentally a narrative about linking resources to results, with transparency and information the main storyline. Here’s how the story might go:
- On resources, the G-8 countries commit to make faster progress on implementing the International Aid Transparency Initiative to meet their aid transparency commitments. They support robust EU laws on extractives transparency, help to develop a global standard on extractives transparency and, where relevant, sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. And, they establish public registries of beneficial ownership.
- On budgets and spending, the G-8 countries support BOOST, a World Bank initiative to make information about budget revenues and expenditures more accessible. They endorse and implement the principles of the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency and support the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative so that there is transparency about how public resources are spent on infrastructure projects.
- On results, the G-8 countries support another World Bank initiative, called Service Delivery Indicators, which looks to improve the information that is available about how health, education and other services are delivered in developing countries. Straddling the resources and budgets and spending categories, the G-8 also do more to support better and more open contracting.