August 25, 2006

What you really need to exorcise the curse!

Sir, Wayne Murdy is clear about what he can do in “Mining companies can help lift the resources curse”, August 25, and we much appreciate his efforts. That said and as a citizen of a “cursed” nation I know all his efforts will come to naught until we get rid of the prime voodoo rite used. When in a non-resource rich country you elect your governments they work for you and you pay their salaries with taxes, but when you elect them, for instance in an oil rich Venezuela, they get the keys to the vaults and you are thereafter reduced to having to beg them. If you then also happen to be living an oil boom things get even worse since with so much money and so much begging these very simple vault-guards begin thinking of themselves as gods.

Therefore since the only way to build a country is to make its citizens responsible for the resource dividends these should of course be paid out directly to them. Unfortunately there are just too many interests, everywhere, in declaring citizens not up to snuff and so as to be able to negotiate on their behalf. That day that Murdy instead of referring to a “partnership between companies and government” could refer to a partnership with the people, most of the curse would just vanish.