The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: An Update

On April 3, 2000, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Angolan government announced the beginning of a Staff Monitored Program (SMP). This program is an ambitious agreement to implement a wide range of economic and institutional reforms in Angola that could lead to further lending and cooperation with the IMF and World Bank, but it is unclear whether the government will be able to comply with its requirements. The SMP includes a provision to monitor oil revenues known as the "Oil Diagnostic."1 Human Rights Watch believes that should the Oil Diagnostic be implemented, it could mark a limited, but positive first step toward promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance in Angola and, ultimately, greater respect for human rights. But there are pitfalls in the process that could impede the success of this program. This backgrounder details recent developments regarding the Oil Diagnostic and other issues related to oil and human rights in Angola.

The World Bank and government of Angola are supervising the Oil Diagnostic and, KPMG, an international accounting and consulting firm, is implementing it. The diagnostic is not a comprehensive audit despite persistent allegations of government corruption and financial mismanagement. It is principally a forward-looking agreement to monitor oil revenues; to help the Angolan government develop an effective mechanism for determining how much revenue the central bank should receive from oil production; and to encourage good governance.2 The first Oil Diagnostic report is due in April 2001.3

The Oil Diagnostic is particularly significant because oil revenue has been and remains the Angolan government's principal source of income, and has generated most of the resources enabling the government to pursue its conflict with Jonas Savimbi's rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) movement. Between 1995-1999, oil revenues comprised approximately 70
to 89 percent of government revenues and approximately 85 to 92 percent of exports, according to the IMF.4 In 2000, oil accounted for U.S. $3.26 billion of government revenue.5 On February 23, 2001, the Angolan government announced that oil revenues would account for 90.5 percent of the current year's budget, or approximately U.S. $3.18 billion.6

The opaqueness of the Angolan government's budget and expenditures has generated concern among multilateral financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, and governments, as well as within Angola itself. At issue are the use of public funds, derived from oil revenues, to secretly finance arms purchases and the mortgaging of future oil revenues in return for immediate oil-backed loans to the government. In some cases in the recent past, oil revenues bypassed the Ministry of Finance and the central bank (the Banco Nacional de Angola, or BNA) and went through the state-owned oil company, Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola (Sonangol), or through the Presidency, and were used secretly to procure weapons.7 This sparked allegations of official corruption.8 The government's lack of transparency engendered further controversy in June 2000 when André Tarallo, former Africa director of France's Elf Aquitaine (now TotalFina-Elf) oil company, testified to French authorities that Elf kept a multimillion dollar slush fund, derived from oil proceeds (up to U.S. $0.40/barrel went into the fund), in Liechtenstein. These funds were allegedly used to pay African leaders, including Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, from the 1970s to 1990s.9 Dos Santos and TotalFina-Elf have denied the allegations.10

The Angolan government's practices have not met basic standards for fiscal transparency and accountability, such as those detailed in the IMF's Code of Good Practices for Fiscal Transparency. The code calls for open disclosure and reporting in order to encourage public debate about fiscal policy and ensure governmental accountability.11 The secret dealings of the government made it impossible for the Angolan public and media to hold the government accountable for its use of public funds. In addition, the government has responded to public and press criticism of its use of the country's oil revenues by clamping down on journalists and restricting freedom of expression. In this regard, fiscal transparency, political accountability, and human rights are inextricably intertwined in Angola.

Further Details on the Oil Diagnostic
The initial agreement to carry out the Oil Diagnostic was reached in April 2000, but procedural delays held up the announcement of the monitoring contract for several months. On November 20, 2000, the Angolan government announced that the international accounting and consulting firm KPMG had been awarded the U.S. $1.6 million contract to conduct the Oil Diagnostic. The government will pay 68 percent of the costs of the program while the World Bank will pay the remainder.12

The Oil Diagnostic will not examine how the government uses its oil revenues after they are deposited in the central bank. To do this, the government should be required to publish a detailed budget and an account of actual expenditures. The purpose of the Oil Diagnostic will be to assess only whether the amount of oil revenues generated are equal to the amount of funds deposited in the central bank, and to develop mechanisms that enable the government to monitor revenues accurately. To achieve these goals, KPMG will be responsible for carrying out the following seven components:

· The creation of a database that contains an assessment of proven and probable oil reserves, production, and exports.

· The development of projections of export oil prices, production, exports, and subsequent revenues payable to the government on a quarterly basis from mid-2000 to the end of 2001, and annually until 2005.

· Monitoring of the actual revenues received by the government and comparing these figures to the projections of revenues on a quarterly basis from June 2000 to December 2001. This includes signature bonus payments._

· Assessing the government's existing monitoring of exports, the government's data management, and financial and procurement procedures.

· Providing recommendations to improve institutional and regulatory controls within the government to "support the sound management of oil revenues."

· Designing and implementing a monitoring system for the government so that it can accurately assess oil revenues.

· Training of Angolan staff and providing proposals for institutional strengthening so that the government can continue monitoring of oil revenues.13

Ideally, this agreement will lead to a substantial improvement in the government's management of oil revenues and greater transparency and accountability in its use of such income. However, the agreement has limitations that could hinder such developments. These include:

· The government of Angola has not made a commitment to make the KPMG reports public, although one of the key objectives of the Oil Diagnostic is "to assist the Government in increasing transparency with respect to revenues from petroleum production."14 The Oil Diagnostic reports are technically the property of the Angolan government, and it has given no commitment to make the reports public. This is particularly troubling. According to the IMF Code of Good Practices for Fiscal Transparency, "a public commitment should be made [by the government] to the timely publication of fiscal information;" and "the integrity of fiscal information should be subject to public and independent scrutiny."15 Moreover, recent World Bank research suggests that media independence, judicial independence, and public scrutiny are crucial for ensuring government accountability in countries where there is weak governance.16 Human Rights Watch urges the Angolan government to make a firm commitment to release all Oil Diagnostic reports to the public as soon as they become available, and to ensure that they are disseminated in Portuguese.

· The IMF and World Bank cannot release the Oil Diagnostic reports without the government's permission, even though they receive copies of the reports and the World Bank is funding approximately 32 percent of the diagnostic. KPMG is not allowed to release these reports independently because it is a government contractor, and the reports are considered government property. The IMF and the World Bank could insist that the government publish the reports as a measure of the successful implementation of the Oil Diagnostic, and a condition for further cooperation between these institutions and the government. So far, the IMF has said that it will insist on the public release of the reports, but not what it will do if the government refuses to publish the reports.17 Human Rights Watch believes that the World Bank and the IMF should insist that the government release the Oil Diagnostic reports as an explicit requirement of any further cooperation with the international financial institutions.

· It is not clear that the Angolan government will have the capacity to independently report on oil revenues by the time that the Oil Diagnostic expires in 2002. KPMG is responsible for comparing projected with actual revenues during the last two quarters of 2000, and throughout 2001. KPMG's first report is due in April 2001, and is expected to include their initial assessment of oil revenues. Subsequently, KPMG is to submit reports to the Angolan government, the World Bank, and the IMF every three months until the agreement ends. During this time, KPMG will also provide monthly updates on its findings to the Angolan government.18 After the final KPMG report, the government is expected to assume direct monitoring itself. However, it is by no means clear that the government will have the capacity to report on these issues independently by the end of 2002. Human Rights Watch urges the World Bank, IMF, and the Angolan government to continue the diagnostic under the auspices of the IMF and World Bank until the government adequately demonstrates its ability to publicly report on these matters.

· The Oil Diagnostic is not retroactive despite previous controversies over oil-for-arms deals and oil mortgaging. KPMG is expected to examine data going back to approximately 1998 as a basis for comparison with current production and revenues.19 It is not clear whether this data will be included in the quarterly monitoring reports. Human Rights Watch believes that the pre-2000 data should be included in the first Oil Diagnostic report.

· The government should provide a detailed and public accounting in response to any discrepancies identified by KMPG. If discrepancies emerge between the projected and actual revenues deposited in the central bank, the Oil Diagnostic requires only that the government provide a "sufficient explanation" of such discrepancies.20 In some cases, discrepancies may be due to fluctuations in oil prices, changes in the price of oil due to variation in oil quality, or lesser (or greater) production than initially recorded.21 However, other types of discrepancies are also possible-such as off-the-books arms purchases or loan repayments funneled through Sonangol or the Presidency. KPMG's ability to account for these discrepancies is completely dependent on the quality of information it receives from the government. It is critically important, therefore, that the government should provide-and the multilateral institutions insist on-the most thorough, verifiable, and public explanation from the government of all discrepancies to establish transparency and accountability.

· The Oil Diagnostic is not an investigation into the use or misuse of oil revenues by individuals within the government. In fact, the agreement between KPMG and the government explicitly states that "the consultants [KPMG] shall not be expected or required to consider or investigate or conduct any form of enquiry into the conduct, practices, honesty, integrity or standards of, or nature or quality of work performed by, any person who has or may have had, any involvement in or connection with, directly or indirectly, the facts, matters, circumstances or events which shall be diagnosed, monitored, studied, assessed or considered by the consultants during the performance of these services." [original emphasis] 22 Rather than avoiding a full audit, Human Rights Watch strongly believes that the IMF, World Bank, and government of Angola should negotiate a comprehensive audit of discrepancies if such discrepancies emerge.

· As yet, it remains unclear whether the Angolan government will make public KPMG's final report and recommendations, as it should do, and subsequently report on its progress in implementing those recommendations. KPMG will have eighteen months from the end of 2001 to prepare a final report to the government, IMF, and World Bank. This report will contain recommendations, including safeguards against "concluding of contracts for the procurement of goods and services without adequate competitive bidding or on a basis other than arm's length; and any other fraudulent or unprofessional practices which it [KPMG] deems worthy of attention."23 Given the serious nature of the recommendations likely to be made, Human Rights Watch believes it is essential that the Angolan government should publish this final report in full, and should subsequently issue further information periodically to report on its implementation of those recommendations to the Angolan public.

(Old URL: