[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has commenced the process for the potential adoption of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Guyana. As such a study will be conducted by Moore Stephens International and a report will be submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment by January 2015. The undertaking is costing over $17M.
Speaking at the Inception Workshop for the Potential Adoption of the EITI in Guyana, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud noted that conducting the study demonstrates Government’s political will and its commitment to transparency. Emphasising the need for transparency and accountability and the responsiveness to citizens’ call for this, the Minister cited the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan urging on the issue during Guyana’s return to democracy.
Minister Persaud pointed out also that over time, Government has built this into the system, whilst there are charges that it could have been done better. He explained that transparency is seen in the Auditor General’s annual reports which are submitted directly to the National Assembly and examined by the Public Accounts Committee, chaired by the Parliamentary Opposition.
According to the Natural Resources and the Environment the project could not have been possible without the macro and societal framework to accommodate it. He added that there are other projects which have reporting mechanisms to satisfy accountability. Minister Persaud explained that when Guyana in 2012 had applied to join EITI, stakeholders were consulted and attended several discourses and events to enable their understanding of the process. He pointed that this groundwork had to be done if Guyana’s candidacy was to be considered favourably.
Consultations have been held with international partners including the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, the U.S Embassy and the Kingdom of Norway. Additionally local partners have also been consulted, as well all targeting the accelerating the process, noted Minister Persaud.
In recognition of the continuous growth of the extractive industry, the Minister said that the project is not confined to mineral extractions. “If we do not adequately prepare to deal with issues of transparency, in terms of how we manage and utilise the resources…we will be doing an injustice to this country and future generations…,” Minister Persaud said.
Further he pointed out too that investors are comfortable in countries where standards are maintained. The Natural Resources Minister insisted that the EITI activity is aimed at taking Guyana to an international benchmark whilst positioning it to face the effects of the ‘resource curse’ which has plagued bigger countries.
Adding that focus is also being placed on transparency in the forest sector, he reiterated that all such processes required the involvement of national stakeholders. As he encouraged stakeholders, the Minister reiterated Government’s commitment to joining EITI.
Patrick Harding, President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), acknowledging the purpose of the EITI, noted that the GGDMA wanted all monies accounted for. He stated that EITI was best suited to conduct the study. Meanwhile, Clinton Williams, Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) noted that the study comes at an opportune time and would seek to ensure that deliverables are being distributed across the country as they should be.
Stakeholders who are involved in the study are drawn from the GGMC, the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the GGDMA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG), the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, Iwokrama International Centre, the Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMA), the Finance Ministry, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Audit Office of Guyana, the legal affairs and local government and regional development ministries, representatives from bauxite, sand and stones companies, as well as representatives from the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry.