[www.inewsguyana.com] – A group of civic organizations aiming to engage with environmental policy issues were invited by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) to meet the visiting team of consultants charged with scoping out the implications of Guyana becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The Report from the visiting team will provide the basis for the Guyana Government to develop its strategy for completing the tasks necessary for Guyana to become a formal candidate for EITI membership.
According to a release from the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), the consultancy conducted by the UK firm, Moore Stephens International was formally launched last November by the MNRE.
At that event Minister Robert Persaud underlined the need to “adequately deal with issues of transparency, in terms of how we manage and utilize resources”. Not to do so he added “would be doing an injustice to future generations”.
The civic grouping sought clarification from the consultants on the degree of flexibility in the EITI definition of ‘extractive sector’, particularly whether together with traditionally mined products such as gold, diamonds, manganese and bauxite, sectors such as forestry, wild-life agro-industry and forest products could be included. That decision, it was clarified, would be for Guyana to make once it commits to become a candidate member of the EITI.
The TPM of the EITI is a mechanism that, in the Guyana context, can breathe life into Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution which states that the principal objective of the political system is “to provide opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organizations in the management and decision-making processes of the State…” However, moving from the principle to the practice of developing an effective TPM involves a series of governance challenges, the first, acknowledged by the MNRE, being to transition from the current interim Multi-Stakeholder Group to a TPM genuinely representative of the mining/business, Government and civil sectors.
The democratizing strategies required by the EITI also raises challenges related to availability of public information to promote more responsible and accountable management of national resources.
The citizens’ grouping invited the consultants to consider meeting a broader gathering of citizens on a subsequent vision in order to raise public awareness and understanding of the EITI process.
Since the meeting, the civic grouping has learnt from the latest issue of the Caribbean Trakker that the Minister of MNRE is travelling to Trinidad at the end of the month for consultations with the International Chair of the EITI process, the former UK Minister of Overseas Development, Clare Short.