The Ottawa Citizen
May 16, 2001
More than 90 per cent of Export Development Corporation projects examined in a scathing report by the auditor general were not properly assessed under the corporation’s environmental review process.
The audit, released yesterday, gave a failing grade to 24 out of 26 projects backed by the EDC based on a review procedure first introduced in April 1999.
The report also found that nine of 13 other transactions that didn’t qualify for reviews under the EDC’s guidelines were determined to present environmental risk.
“We believe that these problems are serious. Potential environmental risks were not identified,” said interim auditor general Sheila Fraser. “The corporation does not have sufficient information to know if environmental risks exist and are being adequately addressed, and how Canadians could be supporting projects which they would feel do not meet environmental standards.”
The report said that public consultation and disclosure of information should be essential elements of a credible environmental review process. In a written response to the report, International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he is concerned with the EDC’s performance, and asked for another audit in two years rather than the recommended three.
The EDC indicated yesterday that it intends to adopt each of the auditor general’s recommendations.
As well, the Crown corporation released a draft of its long-awaited disclosure policy, which proposes to release information about all its financing activities, The disclosure would include the country involved, the amount and name of the borrower, and the exporter’s name. It is a return to a similar disclosure policy held by the EDC between 1969 and 1984.
The government-owned EDC supported $45 billion in exports and foreign investments in 2000, aiding export trade by insuring Canadian exporters and providing loans to foreign buyers of Canadian goods and services.
Eric Siegel, executive vice-president of the EDC’s medium- and long-term financial services, said the corporation does not intend to review the 26 audited projects since it is confident they meet the EDC’s environmental standards.