February 17, 2016


Oil's fall may be democracy's rise (CS Monitor's Editorial Board FEBRUARY 16, 2016)

The three countries, which have let themselves become highly dependent on a single material export, are also among those most in need of political and economic reforms.

Like the receding tide, the fall in oil prices has exposed which commodity-rich nations have learned how to avoid the so-called resource curse and which have not. Countries such as Norway and Bolivia have effectively sidestepped many of the pitfalls of easy resource wealth, such as corruption, reckless spending, or autocratic rule. Some have set aside oil money in prudent savings for future generations. Others plow their proceeds into long-term investments, such as education and high-tech innovation. The best ones ensure transparency and accountability - qualities that require democracy - in their oil industry and government.

The good news from lower oil prices is that it is driving reform, helping turn a curse into a blessing. Newly elected governments in Nigeria and Indonesia, for example, appear to be tackling corruption related to commodity exports. Brazil's leaders are now under even more scrutiny after a scandal hit the state-run oil company, Petrobras, and led to unprecedented prosecutions of high-level officials. The price fall is forcing wealthier nations with large oil reserves, such as Canada, Australia, and the United States, to focus more on sustainable industries for growth.

Meanwhile, the autocratic rulers in Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia are trying some reforms.

Posted by at February 17, 2016 1:52 PM