By Kiana Wilburg
While there are a few more stages left to go through, Guyana certainly made significant headway on Wednesday as it relates to its application for membership to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
At the Umana Yana, members of the Government, Diplomatic Corps and civil society gathered for the launching of Guyana’s very own EITI Multi-stakeholder Group (MSG). This is one of the requirements for Guyana to make it into the EITI fold.
Speaking to the importance of the initiative was Dr. Rudy Jadoopat, National Coordinator of Guyana’s EITI Secretariat.
Jadoopat said that EITI brings together a number of groups. He said that these include oil and gas companies, representatives of government, local and international stakeholders and assessment management companies.
The National Director stressed that the objective of the EITI is to bring international and acceptable standards for transparency to the oil, gas and mining sector.
Jadoopat said that commitment to the initiative indicates that government continues to advance towards the institutionalization of transparency and accountability. He thanked the Ministry of Natural Resources and representatives of the civil society who were all instrumental in the successful launching of the MSG.
The National Director said, “EITI creates opportunities for the building of trust among stakeholders and indeed the community at large. Companies are required to disclose what they pay to government and the government must in turn disclose what receipts from the companies are made. The reconciliation of these figures will become a key responsibility of the GEITI.”
Jadoopat stressed that the EITI principles underline the importance of transparency by governments and companies in the extractive industries and the need to enhance public financial management and accountability.
In this regard, he said that Guyana committed to the implementation of EITI, and so its government knowingly committed to high standards of accountability in public life.
Adherence to, and the implementation of EITI as part of a menu of good governance measures, is important for Guyana’s economic and social development.
The initiative requires governments in participating countries to disclose revenues earned and that oil, gas and mining companies share data on payments made.
These figures are then compared to discover any discrepancies, and the information made public as a way to foster public scrutiny and greater accountability over natural resource profits earned by governments.
To do this, a Multi-Stakeholder Group comprising representatives of government, civil society and industry is formed to facilitate and drive the process. The Multi-stakeholder group is central to the operation and philosophy of the EITI.
According to the National Director, an interim body has been formed and is managed by a steering committee.
He said, too, that Guyana has already satisfied a number of requirements. Jadoopat said however that there are still a few steps which need to be completed. These include; adapting the terms of reference of the MSG, determining the materiality and scope; to review and finalize a draft work plan; to prepare a communication strategy and plan for it; and to review and ensure the finalization of the scoping study which was commissioned and prepared by a consulting firm etc.
The National Director assured that the Secretariat will provide support to the MSG.
THE GEITI -MSG
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman who also gave an update on Guyana’s status thus far, said that the GEITI –MSG is a primary body which will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating the successful implementation of the global EITI standards.
The Minister said that the body will provide and establish a framework to promote collaboration and consensus building in implementing the EITI accordingly.
He said that the grouping is a true demonstration of inclusivity and transparency as all stakeholders are represented at the table. Trotman said that this includes government, civil society and industry.
With four members and equivalent alternates on the MSG, Trotman remarked that the Government will be represented by high level officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and the Guyana Revenue Authority. He revealed that the GEITI will be chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“The Government has approached the EITI process with a commitment to transparency and openness as well as a recognition, acceptance and a deliberate effort to foster the truth that the resources of Guyana belong to every Guyanese in equal measure,” asserted Trotman.
“This EITI initiative has the potential to bring significant benefits to the Guyanese economy through increased accountability and transparency, translating into more informed policy debates and guidance on managing our resource endowments,” Trotman said.
He added, “It also has the potential to increase the potential of investor confidence and enhance Guyana’s reputation as a sound investment destination. This process joins a suite of initiatives that this government has committed to and is actively pursuing to strengthen public institutions and systems for managing resources and revenues from the extractive sector.”
The politician noted that efforts to find a suitable standalone location for the EITI secretariat have already commenced. Trotman also stated that hiring of additional support staff for the Secretariat has already started. He hopes to have a full staff for it before the end of the first half of the year.
Trotman said, too, that in the coming weeks, there will be an outreach programme to engage the public on all matters of importance and interest within the natural resources sector.
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