COMPANIES extracting natural resources in developing countries would be forced to declare all payments made, under a Private Member’s Bill tabled by Glasgow Central MP, Anas Sarwar.

He argues that energy companies and those involved in mining for minerals and precious metals should be forced to make full disclosure so that civil society and non-government organisations in the UK and around the world could hold governments to account over allegations of bribery and corruption.

The MP, a member of the International Development Select Committee, said: “I want to see the vast sums of money made through natural resource extraction in developing countries put to effective use for the public good.

“At the moment there is a major lack of transparency, which makes it easy for corrupt officials to siphon off public money for their own private benefit, instead of using it to reduce poverty and enrich the lives of their country’s people.

“If all the money received was spent accountably, more children would be in schools, more nurses in clinics, and more farmers would get better seeds to grow enough food to feed their families and earn some money to support them.”

He said the Energy Security through Transparency Act of 2009, backed by US President Barack Obama, had forced US-based extractive firms to reveal what they paid to developing countries.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently pledged to put pressure on the European Union to pass similar legislation. The Bill would apply to all companies trading on the London Stock Exchange.

“It’s time for the UK to step up and show leadership,” said Mr Sarwar, who hoped that people would urge their MPs to support the Bill’s hearing tomorrow and write to Chancellor George Osborne asking him to give a public statement in support.



The HeraldScotland