(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy presented a plan to support developing countries that control oil and gas resources. State Secretary Leiv Lunde with the Minister for Development Aid points out the good results of Norway's own development of the petroleum sector. Equatorial Guinea and Liberia are just two examples of countries suffering from the "curse of natural resources".
- Can Equatorial Guinea or Liberia be possible aid countries in this context?
- I do not want to exclude any countries, but we must consider the opportunities and prerequisites we have for cooperation with the individual country's authorities. We already have some co-operation with Liberia in the humanitarian area, and extended co-operation may be relevant if the authorities want to follow up, among other things, the World Bank's guidelines for openness in the economy and the fight against corruption. Equatorial Guinea has already been an oil economy for a few years, but we have very little contact with the authorities and few opportunities to provide any assistance to the country. The country has a governance system that far from meets the expectations we have for partner countries, but if the country's authorities want to cooperate with international actors such as the World Bank and the Monetary Fund, it may be relevant to support seminars on good oil management under the auspices of these institutions, says Lunde. .
- What does good management mean in relation to the tax rate; the rate in Norway is far higher than in very many developing countries?
- First and foremost, we must disseminate the experiences we have made in Norway, without necessarily advocating that Norwegian policy be copied in detail. No donor country can also say anything specific about what tax rate each country should impose on its own business community, but of course we should have an idea of the tax rate. An underlying motivation for us is a desire for oil revenues to benefit the population. But it is not a matter of course that the tax rate should be the same in all countries. Here we probably have a lot to learn from us, we managed the balance between building up the oil sector with help from foreign companies, at the same time as we had our hands on the wheel. But it is clear that we were at the same time at a different level in development than many of the countries we are now talking about, Lunde emphasizes.
- It is obvious to claim that it is hardly coincidental that development assistance in this case coincides with Norwegian oil companies' investment abroad. Comment?
- It is natural that we focus on countries where oil plays or can play an important role in the countries' economies, and this has nothing to do with Norwegian companies. In that case, it is a coincidence. This is not about exporting the Norwegian oil industry, at the same time as we see that this can be a win-win situation. It is clear that Norwegian companies, when they comply with the guidelines and expectations we set, can enter into cooperation with us, among other things to create increased employment in the individual countries and increased number of local employees. But we will not subsidize Norwegian companies in an undue competition with other companies, Lunde concludes.