Report Card Flunks Crown Corp on Transparency
Ottawa, October 25, 2004 – A Canadian coalition of groups hammered Export Development Canada (EDC) for poor transparency on the most controversial and risky projects it funds, the day before the Auditor General is set to release a report on the environmental and disclosure policies of the crown corporation.
“Three years ago the Auditor General identified public consultation and disclosure of environmental information as being essential to a credible review process”, said Fraser Reilly-King, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group on EDC, the coalition that released the report.
“Yet EDC still has no requirements to do either, and has not released a single environmental impact assessment for the potentially most harmful projects. Without greater transparency, EDC’s environmental review lacks credibility.”
While the Report card did generally praise EDC for the improvements it has made with regards to its environmental due diligence, it failed the institution on its procedures for screening and categorizing projects for their level of environmental risk, arguing that poor disclosure made it impossible for the public to assess whether there had been any improvements.
The Report Card also challenged EDC’s lack of disclosure of environmental information prior to a decision to finance a project, citing a number of export credit agencies (ECAs) in the US, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, that do so not only because such information is often already available through third parties, but also because it is good public policy. The few project details that the crown corporation does disclose, were characterized by the report as “vague”.
“EDC has shed some light on their operations”, said Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, “but we are still in the dark on the most important information about the projects that EDC is considering funding. For a public financial institution, this is unacceptable”.
The Auditor General’s report on EDC’s environmental policies will be tabled before Parliament around 2pm on October 26. While its exact recommendations are as yet unknown, the report is at least expected not to be as scathing as the May 2001 assessment of EDC’s environmental policy. In 2001, the Auditor General criticized the Crown Corporation for inadequately applying its environmental review framework in the vast majority of cases.
“The public shouldn’t have to rely on periodic reviews by the Auditor General to know exactly what is going on within EDC”, added Mr. Reilly-King. “The public has a right to know more.”
EDC adopted its new environmental and disclosure policies in May 2002.
The Report Card is based on information available to the public and is on-line at http://www.halifaxinitiative.org/updir/Report_Card_EDC.pdf
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For further information, contact:
NGO Working Group on EDC
(613) 789-4447 (613) 569-3439