EDC balks at releasing project details: Three of 26 questioned projects to remain confidential

The Ottawa Citizen
July 29, 2001

The Export Development Corporation will not make public details of three projects judged in a report by the auditor general to have been improperly assessed under the corporation’s environmental review process.


The audit report, which was released in May, gave a failing grade to 24 of 26 projects backed by the EDC based on a review procedure first introduced in April 1999.

At a news conference to release a draft of its new disclosure policy, EDC officials promised to disclose information about the 26 projects, after consulting with the clients involved in the loans and insurance deals.

The Crown corporation has now made public details of 23 of the projects reviewed by the auditor but a spokesman for the EDC says the public will be kept in the dark about the remaining three.

The EDC, which is trying to drop its secretive image, will not release any information about the projects, including general details such as the product, amount of money, country, or even which sector was involved.

Rod Giles, a spokesman for the EDC, says the three clients who objected to releasing details about the projects have “good, legitimate reasons,” adding they are not “flippant.”

“We did our best and, under the circumstances, I think only missing three is pretty good. The clients have signed agreements which protect confidentiality,” said Mr. Giles.

But an EDC watchdog group disagrees. Pam Foster, a spokesperson for the Halifax Initiative, slammed the corporation, saying the Canadian public has a right to know which projects they are backing around the world.

“The auditor general has already told us that these projects were not properly assessed and it seems that in the case of three of them, we’ll never know what they were,” said Ms. Foster.

In a written response to the audit, International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he is concerned about the EDC’s performance and asked for another audit in two years rather than the recommended three.

The government-owned EDC supports more than $45 billion in exports and foreign investments, aiding export trade by insuring Canadian exporters and providing loans to foreign buyers of Canadian goods and services.

Mr. Giles said the form used to disclose information about the 23 projects is the model developed for the proposed disclosure policy. But Ms. Foster said the details are still too sketchy.

The EDC only reveals a range for the amounts of the deals. For example, it states that one of the deals is for “over $50 million” in political risk insurance for the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine project in Tanzania, involving Barrick Gold Corp.

As well, a chart shows a range of $25 million and $50 million for buyer financing of an aluminum smelter in Mozambique, involving SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

Another project is buyer financing of $25 million to $50 million for DMAX in the U.S. to purchase manufacturing equipment for an engine assembly plant from Tri-Way Machine Ltd. (since renamed Federal-Mogul Tri-Way Ltd.), of Windsor, Ont.

After a 60-day consultation period on its new disclosure policy, the EDC recently released a report by Environics Research Group on the feedback it received in the past two months.


Categories: EDC, Export Credit, News

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