Guyana applies to key EU watchdog on natural resources revenues

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman (third from left) submits Guyana’s application for membership to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Receiving the application on behalf of the EITI is the National Coordinator of the G-EITI, Rudy Jadoopat. Also in photo (from left) are ExxonMobil Country Manager Rod Henson, former Head of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, Patrick Harding, G-EITI Civil Society representative Mike McCormack and Deputy Coordinator of the G-EITI Diane Barker. (Keno George photo)

Guyana has officially applied for membership in the European Union’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which will help in tracking revenues from oil and other natural resources.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman yesterday made the submission via skype to EITI’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Francisco Parris.

Speaking after the submission, Trotman noted that Guyana has completed all the requirements for membership, including the establishment of a Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) and an agreement on an EITI work plan. He also explained that while oil extraction is not expected to begin until 2020, government is putting fundamentals in place very early.

He said that being a member of EITI will ensure that management of the extractive sectors is done in a manner that is transparent, since the watchdog process is the undergirding principle in protecting resources of a state which belongs to the people.

“The idea is to look at the natural resources sector, the extractive industries sector, including oil but for now we have gold and diamonds, we have bauxite and we have forest so long before we get around to oil we want to start looking at how royalties are collected, taxes, how are they paid out, what are they used for. This [EITI work plan] is only going to strengthen the good governance framework to ensure that there is transparency in the collection of and spending of that money so that when we do start to produce oil and receive income from it, the dreaded resource curse that people speak about and issues of corruption are not faced,” Trotman said.

He explained that the application process began in 2010 when with a commitment from the previous administration to join, a Memorandum of Under-standing was signed between Guyana and the EITI for assistance in the preparation of its candidacy in 2012 and a fast tracking of the process over the last two years led to yesterday’s submission.

Also present at the handing over were members of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (G-EITI) Multi Stakeholder Group, which was launched in February. Trotman had previously explained that the MSG is responsible for overseeing and coordinating successful and effective implementation of the global EITI standards here in Guyana. Additionally, the group will provide and establish a framework that will promote collaboration and consensus building in implementing the EITI goals accordingly.

The EITI website describes the MSG as a grouping which involves the government, companies, and the full, independent, active and effective participation of civil society.

It further explains that the group is required to maintain a current work plan, fully costed and aligned with the reporting and validation deadlines established by the EITI Board.

The work plan must, among other requirements, be made widely available to the public, whether through publication on the national EITI website and/or other relevant ministry and agency websites, in print media or in places that are easily accessible to the public.

There was no indication at the handing over as to how and when the Guyana’s action plan will be made public.

Meanwhile, EITI further notes that the work plan should include implementation objectives that are linked to the EITI Principles and reflect national priorities for the extractive industries and reflect the results of consultations with key stakeholders.

Guyana’s application is expected to be deliberated on at the 38th EITI Board meeting scheduled for October 25 to October 26 in Manila, the Philippines. If accepted, this country will be the 53rd member of the initiative. Guyana will then have 18 months to generate a report to provide extractive data such as laws, fiscal management policies, licensing and contracts information, revenue, production and expenditure data.

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