– Confidential agreements; discussions will determine this for Guyana – Minister Trotman
By Kiana Wilburg
Cognizant of the fact that oil, gas and mining are notoriously prone to corruption, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) continuously ups its efforts to embed higher levels of accountability within its member countries.
In fact, the EITI has emerged as one of the front runners in the global push to reveal more about who is behind shady firms in the extractive sectors. As such, the EITI international board has called for its members to engage in the practice of releasing the names of beneficial owners of oil, gas and mining companies.
But if and when Guyana becomes a member of the EITI, it is not set in stone that such a policy would be adhered to. This is according to Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman.
In a brief interview yesterday, the politician said that it is a proposal in which some of the members of EITI are still working out “because you have things like confidentiality agreements and so forth.”
He said that it is a recommendation which would have to be considered and the way forward determined by a Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG).
The Natural Resources Minister said that the MSG which would comprise of the Government, companies and civil society would have to “sit and decide the principles of its membership.”
Even though the recommendation by the EITI International Board is grounded in transparency, Trotman said, “Transparency cannot be looked at in isolation…It has to be balanced between confidentiality agreements and so forth, so you just can’t say that ‘yes we will do it or not’. It will have to depend on a number of factors.”
In the meantime, the Ministry of Natural Resources is aiming to submit its application for membership to EITI in November. To date, Guyana has satisfied the initial required actions for EITI candidacy and has reached out to the World Bank for support to complete the next step in the process.
The Bank has since agreed to make the services of a consultant with experience in providing guidance towards EITI compliance, available to Guyana and also shared options for additional assistance once Guyana assumes membership.
The consultant will facilitate the completion of the MSG process which is the next pivotal step in qualifying for candidacy. The MSG will comprise representatives of Government, industry and civil society and will help coordinate activities through a Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI) Secretariat, which will also be established.
The EITI is a global organisation of 51 member countries, which have subscribed to establishing, upholding and promoting the standards and tenets of good governance, transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries.
At its core, the EITI promotes the belief that natural resources belong to the people and are to be extracted and managed on behalf of the people; both for current and future generations. The MSG consists of a tripartite of government, civil society and industries stakeholders. Establishing a MSG is an important requirement of EITI.
Guyana is receiving guidance and support from the EITI’s Norway-based secretariat and the Trinidad & Tobago Chapter (TTEITI).
In February 2016, at the Seventh EITI Global Conference in Lima, Peru, the EITI Standard 2016 was adopted and included a new requirement that, by January 1, 2020, all EITI implementing countries must publish a Beneficial Ownership Register.
The EITI Standard requires that implementing countries maintain a publicly available register of the beneficial owners of the corporate entity (ies) that bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets, including the identity (ies) of their beneficial owner(s), the level of ownership and details about how ownership or control is exerted.
Where possible, the 2016 Standard sets out that beneficial ownership information should be incorporated in existing filings by companies to corporate regulators, stock exchanges or agencies regulating extractive industry licensing.
EITI Chair, Fredrik Reinfeldt, at the Anti-Corruption Summit 2016 in London on May 12, last, said, “EITI members are showing leadership on beneficial ownership disclosure.”
That issue was among the central issues of the Summit, and Heads of State, senior industry and civil society leaders discussed it, among others, and strategies were proposed for international cooperation to tackle it.
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