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Posts Tagged ‘Holmås’

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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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 allocates NOK 700 million to Tanzanian rural energy fund after a recent conference in Oslo

Posted by African Press International on April 18, 2013

Norway and Tanzania have signed an agreement under which Norway will provide NOK 700 million to Tanzania over a four-year period. This funding will be channelled to a rural energy fund in Tanzania that will give people in rural areas access to electricity.

“Access to electricity is essential for reducing poverty and generating economic growth. Providing electricity in rural areas is a way of giving the majority of the population in Tanzania the freedom to choose not to use paraffin, diesel and other less reliable energy sources that are damaging to health. Electricity provides light for doing homework and opportunities for creating jobs and generating income, and enables health clinics to function better,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

Mr Holmås and Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo signed the agreement in Oslo on 9 April. Both of them were taking part in the High Level Meeting on Energy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In Tanzania, eight out of ten people live in rural areas. Of these people, only 6 % have access to modern forms of energy. Increasing access to energy will take many years and will require substantial public subsidies. The rural energy fund is the Tanzanian authorities’ most important tool in this context. The fund will be managed by the Rural Energy Agency (REA). Sweden, the World Bank and the EU are also supporting the fund. Norway will now be the biggest single donor to the fund.

“Increased access to electricity is absolutely essential for ensuring equitable development in Tanzania. Having said this, it is difficult to achieve. Those who use electricity have to pay for it themselves. We will keep a close eye on the quality of individual projects, as well as making sure that necessary reforms are carried out, that the Rural Energy Agency has sufficient capacity and that any threats to sustainability are addressed,” Mr Holmås commented.

So far, more than 90 % of the investments in the fund have gone to expanding the electricity grid, as this is the most effective way of reaching rural areas. But the funds from Norway will also be used for local solutions enabling the production of renewable energy in areas that are not covered by the electricity grid.

Tanzania’s aim is to increase the percentage of the population that has access to electricity from 14.5 % to 30 % on a national basis, and from 6.5 % to 15 % in rural areas, by 2025. In order to achieve this, investments in the rural energy fund will probably need to increase tenfold.

“Tanzania aims to become a middle-income country in the space of 12 years. We will gradually scale down our assistance to the country as this process proceeds. Increased access to electricity is absolutely essential if Tanzania is to achieve its goal. In order to succeed, Tanzanians must think big and improve their systems over and above the individual project level. The agreement between Norway and Tanzania is divided into two phases to ensure that the quality of projects is as intended and that the efforts to bring energy to the rural population progress according to plan,” Mr Holmås said.

 

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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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International meeting on energy and development in Oslo

Posted by African Press International on April 9, 2013

Energy is vital for development. Tomorrow, Norway will host an international high-level meeting on energy and the post-2015 development agenda.

The meeting will be opened by Crown Prince Haakon and chaired by Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, Mexican Minister of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell and Tanzanian Minister of Energy Sospeter Muhongo.

Mr Holmås commented, “1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Access to clean energy is crucial for global development. This high-level meeting is an important step towards ensuring that the issue of energy is addressed as effectively as possible in the future.”

Mr Holmås has recently returned from Tanzania, which, together with Mexico and Norway, is leading a global consultation process on sustainable energy. This forms part of the UN’s efforts to develop a new set of global development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.

Access to energy is often referred to as the “missing Millennium Development Goal” and is regarded as essential for achieving sustainable development. The purpose of the high-level meeting is to sum up the results of the various consultations that have been undertaken around the world, and formulate a set of recommendations, which will be submitted to the UN Secretary-General.

“My aim is that this high-level meeting will help to ensure that energy is included as a separate global development goal in the post-2015 agenda,” said Mr Holmås.

Some 250 participants are expected to attend the meeting. These include representatives of government authorities, international organisations, civil society, the private sector and young people from a number of countries, as well as Dr Rajendra K. Patchauri who received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation in Denmark, and Heidi Hautala, Minister for International Development in Finland.

Prior to the opening of the meeting, Mr Holmås and Crown Prince Haakon will meet young people from India, Tanzania and Mexico for a short discussion on energy in front of the art installation “Skriket fra naturen” (the scream from nature) on the Scandic Fornebu terrace at 08:45.

 

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