From Ms Karin Lissakers.
Sir, In your editorial “Libyan uprising enters its final act” (August 23) you cite restoring security as the first priority for the Transitional National Council. The second is bringing transparency and accountability to the country’s oil sector.
Libya cannot create a stable democracy or offer its citizens economic prosperity unless it radically changes its management of oil. The same warning applies to the other oil-rich states in the region. In the short term, Libya’s next government needs to be far more open and transparent about the revenues from oil and how those monies are spent. Greater openness will inhibit the corruption that hollowed out Muammer Gaddafi’s regime and alienated the country’s citizens. Libya has the natural resources to make sure that democracy does not become associated with poverty – if Libya opts for transparency.
It can begin by taking relatively simple steps: make public all oil and gas contracts. Disclose on a regular, timely basis detailed information about reserves accumulated in sovereign wealth funds. Make public the revenues, spending and assets of state-owned companies. Not least, guarantee free and full participation by citizens.
As you suggest, unfreezing Libya’s overseas assets is an important next step for the international community. It is no less vital that the international community offer the Transitional National Council the expertise and advice for managing the money already available to it and for reforming its governance of the industry vital to the future of every Libyan.
Revenue Watch Institute,
New York, NY, US
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