Norwegian Finance Ministry’s response to Burma accusations

Response to Broken Ethics report

The Norwegian Finance Ministry has made the following response to about EarthRights International’s Broken Ethics report on the Government Pension Fund’s investments in oil and gas companies in Burma:

The Norwegian government is worried about the situation for human rights in Burma.

Norway is therefore supporting the EU’s common position towards the country, which includes some restrictive measures, and we have forbid the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) from investing in Burmese government debt.

The GPFG is a financial investor with investments in more than 8,000 companies.

It is therefore difficult for the Ministry to make comments related to a specific company in the Fund’s portfolio. The operational management of the Fund is delegated to Norges Bank (the central bank).

The GPFGs guidelines for observation and exclusion are related to companies’ production and behaviour.

This is independent of where the companies are based, listed or have activities.

We have been informed that the Council of Ethics to the Fund for a long time has followed the situation in Burma closely.

It is important to note that the GPFG does not have any investments in Burmese companies. The Fundis invested in some companies, listed elsewhere, that have activity within Burma.

The extent of the GPFG’s investments in Burma is therefore sometimes misinterpreted, as the investments refer to multi-national companies with activity in many countries and regions.

For further information, please see this letter from the Council on Ethics to the Ministry which explains in more detail how the Council assesses companies with activity in Burma. Link

The Ministry of Finance may, on the advice of the independent Council of Ethics, exclude companies from the investment universe of the Fund if there is an unacceptable risk that the company contributes to or is responsible for:
a) serious or systematic human rights violations, such as murder, torture, deprivation of liberty, forced labour, the worst forms of child labour and other child exploitation;
b) serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of
war or conflict;
c) severe environmental damage;
d) gross corruption;
e) other particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.

At the time these companies are excluded: Link