Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Research Professor, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance

From curse to development: Natural resources, institutions and public revenues’

Time: 8-11 September
Venue: Holmenkollen Park Hotel, Oslo

The conference was jointly organized by Norad, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chr. Michelsen Institute and the World Bank.

For countries that have or are in the process of exploiting new stores of extractive/non-renewable natural resource wealth, it is increasingly recognised that key determinants of success are the overall governance/institutional framework and the political economy of rent extraction and management. In all too many cases, the discovery of oil or mineral resources has been associated with devastating political conflict and economic setbacks. Only a few countries have managed resource revenues in a way that promotes sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The Oslo conference aimed at eliciting lessons learned from recent efforts to improve the management of natural resources in developing countries. The major objectives of the conference was:

i) Share experience on how natural resources are taxed in different countries;
ii) Explore the way forward in the taxation of this sector and also consider any future risks;
iii) Lay down a foundation and possible opportunities for how donors can contribute to support institution building in this area.

The conference and subsequent workshop brought together selected key experts and policy practitioners around key entry points for linking domestic and international efforts to harness extractive resources for development. A one day plenary conference will highlight the promising areas of supporting development in resource rich/dependent economies. Particular the issues of revenue diversification, transparency in the use of extractive industry resource beyond EITI, and the special challenge of illicit capital flows from resource rich settings will feature plenary contributions during the first day of proceedings. The second and third day workshops will evaluate preliminary cross-cutting and country findings from the World Bank global activity, covering selected cases from sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, DRC, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger), East Asia (East Timor, Laos, and Mongolia), and Latin America.

Conference report:

Conference report 8-11 Sept 09

Key presentations:

Part 1: Natural resources and public revenues – the challenges

Alan Gelb, Director, Development Policy, World Bank: From foreignaid to domestic revenues:an overview of existing knowledge 

Jonas Moberg, Director, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI): Accountability and transparency of resource management 

Charles McPherson, Technical Assistance Advisor, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department: 

Fiscal and Financial Policies for Extractive Industries in Turbulent Times

Part 2: What institutions matter for public revenue enhancement – and why

Ragnar Torvik, Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology: Institutions, capital flight and the resource curse

Serwalo S.G. Tumelo, Chairman of the African Alliance Botswana and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Gaborone: Botswana’s experiences with managing natural resource revenues and their relevance for other resource rich countries

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Research Director, Chr. Michelsen Institute: Tax administration - an entry point for reforms

Part 3: New approaches to development in Africa – implications for institution building and public revenues

Allen Kagina, Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority: The African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) – at the centre stage to mobilise domestic revenues

Olav Lundstøl, Country Economist, Norwegian Embassy Lusaka: The economics and politics of copper taxation in Zambia

Anand Rajaram, Manager, Africa Public Sector Reform and Capacity Building Unit, the World Bank: Strengthening institutional capacity in resource dependent African countries.


Relevant background literature from CMI:

In CMI Annual Report 2008: Dirty deeds done dirt cheap 

Taxation and State Building in Developing Countries Revenue authorities and public authority in sub-Saharan Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Revenue authorities and public authority in sub-Saharan Africa (The Journal of Modern African Studies, 2009)

Political Economy Models of the Resource Curse: Implications for Policy and Research (CMI Working Paper, 2008)

Grand Corruption in the Regulation of Oil (U4 Issue, 2008)

Corruption in Natural Resource Management - An Introduction (U4 Brief, 2008)

Tackling Corruption in Oil Rich Countries: The Role of Transparency (U4 Brief, 2008)

Broadening the Base (D+C Development and Cooperation. International Journal, 2008)

Taxation and tax reforms in developing countries: Illustrations from sub-Saharan Africa (CMI Report, 2003)

"Is transparency the key to reducing corruption in resource rich countries?", (World Development, 37, 3, 521−532 2009)

"Mission improbable: Does petroleum−related aid address the resource curse?", (Energy Policy, 37, 3, 954−965, 2009)

"The resource curse: Which institutions matter?" (Applied Economics Letters, 16, 2009)