Sep 21, 2020 News
– Says political will is necessary
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is of the view that transparency in beneficial ownership is critical to mitigating corruption and preventing illicit flows of finances. That is why it is partnering with Open Ownership (OO) – a global advocate for transparency – on a new programme called Opening Extractives. The programme is intended to accelerate beneficial ownership transparency in the extractives industry.
Transparency in this regard means the public is fully aware of who ultimately controls and benefits from a company and its operations. In an industry where high revenue flows are quite constant, the EITI says it is important for the people to be informed.
EITI said that the programme design was informed by interviews with many stakeholders, such as international beneficial ownership transparency experts, and the responses show that they perceive the issue to be complex.
“The research shows that there is no single path to institutional reform.” EITI said in a statement last week.
The research which the partnership has conducted indicates that there is a high demand for technical assistance to achieve beneficial ownership transparency. However, what appears most formidable are barriers that revolve around political will, “especially when there are vested interests in maintaining opacity in a lucrative sector such as extractives,” EITI stated.
It said that political will is critical for the programme’s success. This will inform the selection of a shortlist of 20 countries to participate in the programme, after which information will be shared with all members.
Components noted by EITI which are pertinent to achieving beneficial ownership transparency are political stability, regulatory effectiveness and the rule of law, components which for Guyana are threatened or are weak.
For Guyana, beneficial ownership transparency has not been accomplished. The signing away of the Kaieteur and Canje blocks by the Donald Ramotar administration in 2015 has raised major concerns about transparency in this regard. To this day, despite major corruption red flags exposed by local newspapers, and even by Global Witness, an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the giveaways has yielded no results. Guyana still does not know who all of the true beneficiaries are of the various transfers of interests for those blocks.
Guyana joined EITI in 2017. Implementation of its principles is an ongoing process, but it is unclear whether the change in government has hampered this, as is a concern of EITI. Guyana’s first EITI report 2017 was published last year. The deadline for the next report is 2021.
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