The discovery of oil or gas in a poor country is potentially beneficial and, simultaneously, potentially calamitous. While countries could put oil revenues toward building much-needed schools and roads, fixing and staffing health systems, and policing the streets, many resource-rich states fare little better—and often much worse—than their re resource-poor counterparts. Too often public money is misallocated and funds meant to be saved are raided, and citizens pay the price. While there is much discussion about how to respond to windfalls, solutions to counteract potential corrosive effects are highly elusive. Todd Moss leads CGD's Oil-to-Cash initiative, which is exploring one policy option: paying revenues directly to citizens. Under this proposal, a government would transfer some or all of the revenue from natural resource extraction to citizens in universal, transparent, and regular payments. The state would treat these payments as normal income and tax it accordingly—thus forcing the state to collect taxes, and addinng additional pressure for public accountability and more responsible resource management. Todd will talk about the idea, the pitfalls, and some of the emerging models experimenting with aspects of the Oil-to-Cash model.
Todd Moss is vice president for programs and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a Washington-DC based thinktank. Moss previously served in the US State Department, worked at the World Bank, and was a lecturer at the London School of Economics. He is the author of African Development: Making sense of the issues and actors (2011).