HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc97-9W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) when independent external audits of the Chad/Cameroon pipeline project will be undertaken; [155408]

(2) when the mandatory fiscal accountability and transparency measures for the Chad/Cameroon pipeline project will be in place; [155409]

(3) what assessment he has made of the level of compliance of the Chad/Cameroon pipeline project with statutory international requirements for safety and environmental protection; [155410]

(4) when the area special oil spill response plan for the Chad/Cameroon pipeline project (a) was due to be in place and (b) is expected to be in place. [155411]

Hilary Benn

DFID is not directly involved in funding or implementing this World Bank project. DFID therefore does not have first-hand information on detailed implementation issues concerning external auditing, fiscal accountability, environmental and safety compliance or oil spill response plans.

However, DFID is confident that the World Bank's systems for the monitoring and implementation of this project, and for the investigation of any warranted complaints are appropriate.

Since the project was approved in June 2000, exceptional resources have been allocated by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, to monitor and support the project's implementation against Internationally agreed standards. This includes the establishment of the Independent Inspection Panel (IIP) and the External Compliance Monitoring Group (ECMG).

In relation to the quality of auditing and fiscal accountability, the World Bank policy identifies two sets of appropriate auditing standards: the International Standards on Auditing published by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Auditing Standards published by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. Project arrangements provide for regular audits of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline projects accounts, plus independent opinions from the International Advisory Group (IAG) and the External Compliance and Monitoring Group (ECMG), which carries out regular independent supervisions of the technical and environmental aspects of the project, and from the Inspection Panel which may investigate complaints from people who believe they have been negatively affected by a World Bank project.

The Chad-Cameroon pipeline is subject to a number of monitoring and supervision controls to ensure quality control, application of environmental regulations, design and implementation adhere to International rules and regulations. The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has strict requirements and specifications, and compliance with these by all parties is spelled out in legally binding agreements. Strong remedies are provided in legal agreements with all parties in case they fail to comply with this obligation. The EMP represents an extensive analysis of the potential environmental and social impacts of the project.

The World Bank are being advised by the ECMG in monitoring the implementation of the Environmental Management Plan, and by an International Advisory Group on broader implementation issues, including those that need to be addressed to achieve the project's developmental objectives. Both the ECMG and IAG make regular site visits. These third party reviews supplement the Bank's own monitoring and supervision of the project which includes site visits, internal reporting and continual discussions with the project sponsors.

The above measures are additional to on-going monitoring by the Consortium and by the Governments of Chad and Cameroon. The Consortium provides quarterly reports which are publicly available.

DFID's interest is as a member of the Executive Board of the World Bank. We do and will continue to take our role on the Executive Board seriously, ensuring that issues identified by the Independent Inspection Panel and External Compliance Monitoring Group are raised, monitored and rectified.

The investigation reports mentioned above are publicly available and can be found on http://www. worldbank.org/afr/ccproj/index.htm.