Mauritania: More light on state-owned companies

EITI Report recommends more disclosure of contracts.

In 2012, Mauritania was Africa’s second largest producer of iron ore, the country’s main mineral export. Thirty percent of the country’s GDP can be attributed to the extractives, and it accounts for 40 % of state revenue.

State-owned companies continue to dominate the extractives sector. In the mining sector, Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM) made up almost three quarters of extractives revenues.  In the petroleum sector, Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et du Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), accounted for almost two thirds.

More coverage, more revenues

Growth in revenues to the Mauritanian government increased from 2011 to 2012 by 43% from US $212 million to US $373 million. Much of this rise is explained by increased dividends from the state owned companies and VAT payments.  The rest is due to the inclusion of social payments including  to the EMEL (“hope”) programme. This programme was established in 2012 to address consequences of draughts and high food prices.

The report includes a detailed list of contributions companies made to local communities, such as associations and villages affected most by extraction activities.

Government shows interest in including fisheries

A week ago, Mauritania hosted an international conference on transparency and sustainable development. The President announced Mauritania’s intention to expand the coverage of revenue transparency to fisheries. Mauritania’s coastal waters are rich in fishing areas and income from fisheries is about a fifth of total government revenue.

At the conference, the Mauritanian Minister of Economy, Sidi Ould Tah, explained: “If our continent has an abundance of resources, but its population remains poor, this is because of weak governance … Our strategy is to better manage public resources, increase the involvement of civil society and establish stronger monitoring mechanisms.”

More openness needed on contracts, ownership, spending

The report includes a number of recommendations to strengthen transparency and improve government systems, including to publish mining contracts; ensure that the auditor general performs its legal obligation to perform regular audits of government revenue and spending – including of the Fonds National des Revenus des Hydrocarbures; for the state-owned SNIM and SMHPM to systematically publish their accounts; and to establish a public registry of beneficial ownership.

In two months’ time Mauritania will publish its report covering 2013 – an opportunity to take stock of progress on these recommendations.

 

For more information about EITI in Mauritania, visit their website at www.itie-mr.org or the country page on eiti.org.