Sir Paul Collier, speaking at a conference in Oxford, said that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) may have made matters worse by encouraging governments of poor countries to squander the proceeds of an oil and minerals boom.
Sir Paul said: “We thought the problem was overwhelmingly transparency and accountability. It just wasn’t. The EITI was the wrong focus. I did my bit to promote the EITI but . . . if you just have that and nothing else it just makes things worse because in the country the message is held as ‘your government are crooks’.” This created an “explosion of expectations” as electorates learnt that they were not reaping the full rewards of their natural resources, to which governments reacted by “spending on flashy stuff that everyone can see”. The result is higher debt — the opposite of the asset accumulation that successful resource-rich countries such as Botswana and Norway adopted during boom times.