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Access to info will combat corruption – Hopwood

This was said by Institute for Public Policy Research executive director Graham Hopwood on Friday during the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day, where they also launched the Transparent Oil Namibia website to improve access to information for the public.

“Transparent Oil enables you to find which companies hold licences, who owns and manages these companies, where they are registered, and how ownership has changed over time,” he said.

One of the researchers, Martha Nangolo, said they had experienced a lot of resistance from government offices when trying to acquire information.

“It takes forever to get hold of anyone, and if you do, they cannot tell you anything,” she stated.

Nangolo said to inspect the register of the licence owners at the mines ministry, one must pay a fee of N$300, while a copy of the register costs N$150 per licence. According to Hopwood, Namibia has 74 major and junior companies registered onshore and offshore which were awarded 42 petroleum exploration licences.

Canada, he said, has most licence holders in Namibia, followed by the United Kingdom, Australia and the USA, although there is no information at the Register of Companies on some of the firms, except for those with local subsidiaries. Hopwood added that information at the Register of Companies is not available in digital form, while some documents are missing or not updated.

However, he said, there is no explanation for the ownership changes reflected on websites of the mines ministry and the Namibia Petroleum Corporation.

“The changes made in the ownership of the licences are at most done at the discretion of the minister and top officials,” he said, adding that government should publish full licencing details for more accountability.

Date.

12 December 2016

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