Tax payments on public resources should always be in the public domain, especially when it involves extractive industries and our non-renewable natural capital inventory.
Recently, headline news portrayed jubilation at the announcement that an oil conglomerate was ready to pay US$159 million in back taxes owed from 2001 to 2006.
As our nation embraces the efforts of the Extractive Industries Transparency Institute (EITI) and is working towards compliance by 2013, our leaders must mirror that commitment with transparency and accountability that is more than lip-service.
Is it true that this US$159m payment is only three per cent of this energy giant's tax bill for the period 2001-2006? Can Mr Patrick Manning or his former minister of energy indicate why back taxes were owed in the first place? Who determined the value of this back tax?
Was this energy giant audited by the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR)? Does this payment include interests and penalties for late payment? Are back taxes owed to the Government by other extractive industries and, if so, how much are these estimated to be? In accepting the US$159 million in back taxes, did our leaders compromise on what is due to us?
These pressing public-interest questions cannot/will not go away. Transparency requires the full
circumstances of this payment be disclosed.
We are pained by the fact that a multinational was allowed to run up a ten-year debt in taxes and then congratulated for repaying it.
Honourable Prime Minister, we are sure you would agree that good public administration demands honest and open disclosure.
Gary Aboud, corporate secretary
Terrence Beddoe, president
Fishermen and Friends
of the Sea (FFOS)