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Posts Tagged ‘Eidsvoll’

New Norwegian funding to secure tax revenues in developing countries

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

Norway will support African countries in the negotiation of fair agreements with international companies that are exploiting their natural resouces,”said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås. Mr Holmås met the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka,in Oslo this week to sign an agreement on an additional NOK 30 million in support. 

Many developing countries are rich in natural resources but their populations remain very poor. One of the reasons for this is that multinational companies have negotiated unfair agreements with national authorities on the exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas. This has led to conflicts and continued poverty.

“Norway is seeking to help turn Africa’s ‘resource curse’ into a ‘resource blessing’ by supporting the negotiation of better contract terms. The aim is for the countries to strengthen their own revenues and economies, and in the long term for them to be able to manage without aid,” said Mr Holmås.

Whereas the authorities in many African countries lack the legal expertise they need, multinational companies have their own experts in tax law and commercial law. Norway has now agreed to provide NOK 30 million over a period of two years to strengthen the negotiating capacity of African countries. This work will be carried out through the African Legal Support Facility, which is hosted by the African Development Bank, and which provides legal assistance in the negotiation of contracts and in settling disputes between multinational companies and the authorities in African countries.

“This work also enhances financial transparency surrounding contracts which is crucial to be able to uncover and stop illicit financial flows. Every year ten times as much money disappears out of developing countries through illicit financial flows as is received in the form of aid and development support,” Mr Holmås stressed.

Norway provided NOK 768 million in support to the African Development Bank in 2012. Inclusive growth and the transition to green growth are the two main objectives of the Bank’s Strategy for 2013–2022, which also identifies fragile states, agriculture and food security and gender as areas of special emphasis. The strategy is consistent with Norway’s development policy priorities, as set out in the recent white paper on fair distribution, Sharing for prosperity.

 

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Norway first in the world to audit developing country debt

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2013

A new report of developing countries’ debt owed to Norway, was presented in Oslo yesterday. “Norway is the first country in the world to have carried out an independent audit of debt agreements. We are doing this to make sure that we are living up to our responsibility as a lender to developing countries,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

Unmanageable debt burdens are one of the fundamental causes of poverty in developing countries. While the international community gives USD 141 billion in aid to developing countries annually, the developing countries pay back USD 464 billion each year to their creditors. Many of the debt agreements were entered into when economic, political and social conditions were uncertain.

“Although the solvency of many countries, such as Brazil, is improving, the debt burden is hampering development in some poor countries. These countries are having difficulty servicing old debt agreements made on unfavourable terms. We now want to address this,” said Mr Holmås, who referred to the first creditor-initiated debt audit as a milestone in Norwegian and international debt policy.

The audit report has been carried out by Deloitte under commission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It covers 34 debt agreements with seven countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Most of the agreements are between 20 and 30 years old. The debts have a total value of almost NOK 1 billion, and when interest on overdue payments is added to this, the total amount is almost four times as much. The report shows that the agreements were largely concluded in accordance with the previous rules and regulations, and partially in accordance with the current rules and the UNCTAD principles. However, it also identifies weaknesses in some of the agreements, which the Government will examine more closely.

“We are once again demonstrating that we are leading the way when it comes to international debt policy, which was a goal for the current coalition Government. We have cancelled almost NOK 7 billion in debts owed to Norway by developing countries over the last eight years, and this has helped the countries to release national resources for poverty reduction. I am pleased that Norway is setting new standards for using the UNCTAD Principles on Promoting Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing, and I urge other countries to follow suit,” said Mr Holmås.

 

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New white paper: fair distribution is key to development

Posted by African Press International on April 21, 2013

Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås is today launching the white paper Sharing for prosperity: Promoting democracy, fair distribution and growth in development policy. The Government is presenting a range of new measures to be used in the fight against poverty.

“1.2 billion people are living in extreme poverty in the world today. Despite many countries experiencing strong economic growth, poverty does not disappear on its own. Instead, the disparities between rich and poor within countries are increasing. This is unfair. The world needs a more fair distribution of power and resources,” said Minister of Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

In order to fight poverty, jobs need to be created that pay a living wage. Support for workers’ and employers’ organisations and labour inspection authorities will therefore be increased. It is also important to support civil society actors. In the white paper, the Minister of International Development makes clear that Norway will increase its efforts to ensure that countries can collect their own tax revenues and combat the leakage of tax revenues to tax havens. Norway will also support the establishment of a group of independent experts who can help developing countries to renegotiate unfair agreements with multinational companies.

“It is crucial that developing countries themselves take responsibility for their own development and for combating poverty. Norway will support countries that wish to establish schemes for facilitating direct cash transfers, particularly to women. Research shows that schemes of this kind help to reduce hunger and give children access to education and health services. When, in addition, decent jobs are created, it is possible to achieve growth that benefits the whole population,” said Mr Holmås.

In the white paper, the Government also announces that it will give priority to cooperation with countries that show a positive trend over time with regard to democracy and human rights.

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source mfa.norway

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Norway doubles funding to the International Labour Organization

Posted by African Press International on April 10, 2013

“The Norwegian Government is making a historical commitment to promote better working conditions for people in developing countries through the ILO,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

Mr Holmås and Director-General Guy Ryder of the International Labour Organization (ILO) signed a new cooperation agreement in connection with the ILO European Regional Meeting that takes place in Oslo this week. Norway has been one of the ILO’s most important cooperation partners for many years, and provided NOK 90 million to support its efforts last year.

“We have decided to double our contribution to NOK 180 million for 2013 in order to substantially increase our efforts to create access to work for poor people and to strengthen their rights. Job shortages and unacceptable working conditions are huge obstacles to the world’s economic and social development,” said Mr Holmås.

Last week he presented a new Government white paper on democracy, fair distribution and growth in the context of development policy. It emphasises the importance of strengthening Norway’s efforts to promote labour regulation in developing countries.

“Doubling our support to the ILO is the first concrete step in the follow-up of this white paper. Many poor countries are experiencing economic growth, and wages should increase in line with this growth to ensure fair distribution,” said Holmås.

The additional support includes NOK 15 million to labour organisations and NOK 5 million to the fight against discrimination, with emphasis on gender equality. NOK 20 million will be used to promote youth employment, for efforts in the informal sector, for labour inspection mechanisms, and to enhance protection against unacceptable working conditions, in line with the ILO’s reform agenda.

 

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