August 11, 2006

Let the Transparency Initiative come home

Sir, Robin Harding’s “Why business must back congestion charging”, August 11, leaves us with the feeling that we are getting somewhere, though we end up a little bit dizzy after the so many right and left turns that he takes, perhaps avoiding congestion charges. It should be clear though that the whole system is much more transparent when the congestion charges are paid in cash-tax than when they are paid in some more difficult to measure costs such as minutes of delays payable in individual currencies. That said everyone would benefit from knowing more where the cash goes. In this particular case the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative comes to my mind. Why do you not do as has been done to Chad and put all the congestion charges, petrol taxes as well, into a big transparent pipeline so that everyone knows what’s up? We know it is difficult to be a prophet in your own land but, in this particular case, since the EITI is a UK idea, you would not have to pay royalties on it either.