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Nov 25, 2011

Oceana says transparency needed with environmental fund

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Still on the prospect of oil, Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Environmental Common Fund as has been long stipulated in the Petroleum Regulations. All current Production Sharing Agreements require the contractor to contribute a percentage of the annual gross revenues to the ECF after a discovery is made and production commences. Oceana Belize does not believe that the zero point one percent to zero point five percent is enough to offset an environmental disaster. Oceana’s Vice-President for Belize says that there has to be accountability when these funds are used.

Audrey Matura Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana Belize

“Too often government has funds for different things and they are mismanaged. What is going to be the accountability and transparency and how do we know that money is there, should there be some kind of oil disaster—it doesn’t have to be a major one; a minor one? How do we know that money is there? And how do the landowners or the coastal communities access this money now? Because it is a fund set aside for indemnity, but who decides who gets indemnified? Do you get indemnified based on your political affiliation? Do you get indemnified because they like you or do you get indemnified because you are a fisher, but the next one is not a fisher? When you set up these funds, it can’t just happen in vacuum; there has to be a whole process and unfortunately the civil society is never called upon to be part of this because unfortunately no government in this country seems to want to be accountable and transparent in how they do these things. And those are the mechanisms—it is one thing to have the money and the next thing is to make sure you have a proper system; that it is fairly managed and that the money is not misappropriated, tampered with or misused. We don’t know about that. Right now we have trust funds through the oil companies. We don’t even know how they are managed; how they decide who gets a little money here or there. And these are the very things we don’t want. Generally the people of this country should be benefitting from the oil that is being extracted and it is not happening.”

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2 Responses for “Oceana says transparency needed with environmental fund”

  1. thinker says:

    What about the thousands of barrels of refined products – diesel, gasoline etc. that pass over our reef every week? Shouldn’t those companies that bring in our fuel also be held accountable for spills? They transport waaaay more petroleum than the oil industry and they arent scrutinized as much!!!!

  2. Ryan says:

    How about Oceana come clear with their sources of funding! The reef issue is simply a covef up?

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