Author Archive

Talking profits and pollution

June 17, 2011

Water testing in San Martin

On 5 May, I met with Canadian mining giant Goldcorp to talk about its San Martin mine in Honduras.

This was just one day after Goldcorp, in the lead up to its annual general meeting, published on its website that “reported net earnings from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2011 were $651 million compared to $232 million in the first quarter of 2010. Adjusted net earnings from continuing operations were $397 million, or $0.50 per share, compared to $159 million, or $0.22 per share, in the first quarter of 2010.”

Certainly such earnings seem to substantiate Goldcorp’s claim to being the “fastest growing, lowest-cost senior gold producer with operations and development projects in politically stable jurisdictions throughout the Americas”. In other words, great news for shareholders.

The thing is, I wasn’t there to discuss Goldcorp’s profits, instead I – together with CAFOD’s Honduran partner organisation CEHPRODEC and our Canadian sister agency Development and Peace – wanted to know how this claim to fastest growing and lowest cost (read highest profit margin) senior gold producer, sits alongside Goldcorp’s environmental and social responsibility record.


Tackling corruption and aid

March 1, 2011

A Bolivian community organising itself to make its voice heard

With everyone’s attention on UK aid spending, the contribution on the Guardian Poverty Matters blog by Jonathan Glennie in relation to Africa’s missing millions and the role of tax havens in it is crucial. However, it is surprising that Jonathan Glennie does not mention the political momentum that is building around the requirement for UK and European companies to disclose all payments – tax and others – to governments. This initiative follows the precedent of the Dodd-Frank Act passed in the US last year requiring country-by-country reporting by all US-listed mining, oil and gas companies.

CAFOD, together with our partners from the global South and other NGOs, has been calling for country-by-country reporting for many years. And we’re also asking the UK government to ensure the UK Bribery Act is implemented without further delay or dilution so that international companies do not fuel the corrupt behaviour of foreign officials by paying bribes.

Making payment disclosure mandatory and combating bribery are crucial steps in tackling poverty, but these do not mean that we should not also continue to ask for sufficient and adequate aid. Aid is essential if we are to ensure that poor communities have the living conditions and skills necessary to hold their own governments to account. Because only when the voices of poor communities are heard, governments in the global South will put the resources gained through economic development and increased transparency to good use and respond to their people’s needs.

No one is in favour of bribery, right?

February 9, 2011

Photo by Kerolic on Flickr

After the measured discussion of last year, 2011 took off with some strong vocal opposition and plenty of negative media coverage on the Bribery Act.

I can’t help think that it is rather strange to have to defend something that should be completely uncontroversial. Surely, no-one is in favour of bribery? It’s interesting that many of the public statements have been comment pieces quoting unnamed businessmen in hypothetical quandaries or statements by business lobbying organisation the CBI saying that the Act is not fit-for-purpose.