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Transparency, accountability and public participation as foundations for effective operations of natural resource funds: Implications for the Russian Stabilization FundLada Progunova
This research argues that in order to operate successfully a Natural Resource Fund (NRF), no matter what its goals are, must be transparent, accountable and open for public scrutiny. Otherwise, a NRF could be useless or even harmful. "Resource curse," "Dutch disease," and "rentier" behavior are theoretical rationales for establishing NRFs. Corruption is viewed as a "transmission channel" of natural resource effects on growth. Guidelines to evaluate NRFs for transparency and accountability were developed. Analysis of selected NRFs' websites revealed that Norway and Alaska provide directions to incorporate transparency into a NRF. Alberta demonstrates that even if democracy is strong, a lack of transparency and accountability decreases effectiveness of a NRF. Venezuela and Kazakhstan demonstrate a fragility of a NRF when bureaucratic elites keep a NRF from public oversight. Azerbaijan shows that steady disclosure efforts can improve a NRF's performance, though not by much if public involvement is low. A variety of mistakes were made in designing the Russian Stabilization Fund: in predicting oil market dynamics and, consequently, in setting the threshold and base prices of oil. The lack of proper legislation and checks and balances blocked a chance to fix these mistakes early on. The research concludes with policy recommendations for the government of Russia: to clarify the Fund's mission, to strengthen its legal foundation, to diversify its investment strategy, to establish an auditing policy, to create an overseeing public council, to disclose quarterly and annual reports, to maintain a website, and other improvements.
Social sciences; Public administration; 0617:Public administration
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