In countries rich in minerals and hydrocarbons, it is often the case that a small number of private companies benefit from the exploitation of these resources, while public revenues are small or misused and local populations remain poor. The way to fight the ‘curse’ of natural resources is by sharing the benefits fairly between private and public sectors and by better allocating public budgets to improve spending on basic health care and education, tackling inequality and generating employment for poor people. Transparency and accountability are essential throughout the process, and particularly in relation to public spending plans for all levels of government. It is time for a new, fair deal for poor people in countries rich in natural resources. The current global economic crisis makes it even more urgent that this happens.
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