Govt denies accusations of missing oil billions

The Angolan government has rejected accusations of corruption and mismanaging billions of dollars of oil revenues.

A government statement released in Luanda described as "groundless" the allegations made in a new report by the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The HRW report, released on Tuesday, alleged that more than US $4 billion in state oil revenue disappeared from Angolan government coffers from 1997 to 2002, "roughly equal to the entire sum the government spent on all social programmes in the same period".

It called on the Angolan government to manage oil revenues better and allow for greater fiscal transparency, so that Angolans could enjoy the benefits of the country's resources.

On Wednesday a US Committee for Refugees (USCR) report also warned that the government risked losing donor support for its post-war reconstruction programmes over its handling of oil revenues.

The Angolan government said the HRW accusations were not backed up by "any independent audit", and it should not have to account "for estimates of its revenues based on non-credible sources". The statement added that Luanda was committed to "transparency in the management of public property".


The USCR report called for greater commitment to social investment and the well-being of Angola's returning populations by the government.

"Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second largest producer of oil, extracting nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day, ... providing approximately 25 percent of its annual production to the United States, and ranks third in the world in new oil discoveries. Angola's massive oil revenue provides the government of Angola an estimated US $3 to $5 billion annually," the report stated.

"Despite its tremendous current and projected wealth from the country's oil reserves, the government of Angola has invested inconsequential amounts, if any, of the country's money to reconstruct and develop refugee returnee areas and other desperately deprived regions of Angola."

The report noted that oil revenues "remain concentrated in the hands of some 100 families" of the political elite.

"Profit realised by foreign companies extracting oil from Angola's primarily off-shore reserves, including ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum, TotalFinaElf, and others, remains largely unknown. While most oil companies operating in Angola annually invest billions of dollars in their extraction operations, in comparison, minuscule amounts of profit are in turn invested in social service and development projects in Angola," the USCR said.

"Potential large-scale refugee returns to other African countries, primarily Sudan and the DRC, during 2004 will overshadow and detract financial and human resources needed for refugee repatriation to Angola. The oil-revenue-rich government of Angola's reluctance to invest in refugee repatriation projects is also likely to turn potential international donor nations to refugee reintegration programmes in other countries."

Thus the opportunity for Angola to attract international donor support for refugee reintegration and reconstruction projects in returnee areas was likely to "evaporate by late 2004", the report concluded.

An estimated 200,000 Angolan refugees have been repatriated since the end of conflict in mid-2002. The majority of the approximately 300,000 Angolan refugees remaining in neighbouring countries wish to return home, the USCR said.