The Natural Resources Ministry (MNRE) on Friday submitted Guyana’s application to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an important step if the country hopes to develop a transparent, corruption-free oil sector.
The ceremonial handing over of Guyana’s application was held at the Natural Resources Ministry’s Board room and saw the Multi Stakeholder Group in attendance. The application was presented via Skype to Dr Francisco Paris, Regional Director of EITI.
According to Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, becoming a member of EITI would strengthen Guyana’s governance framework.
“As you know, we’re not planning on oil production until 2020. So we’re putting these fundamentals in place very early,” Trotman related in an interview after the ceremony. “When you look at the natural resources sector, for now we have gold, diamond, bauxite, forests. And the idea is (that) long before we get into oil production, we want to look at how the royalties are collected (and) what are they used for.
“So this is only going to strengthen the good governance framework, to ensure there is transparency in the spending of that money. So when we do start to produce oil and receive income for it, (we can avoid) the resource curse and issues of corruption and waste,” Trotman explained.
He said that joining the EITI would help Guyana to avoid not just corruption, but Government would have to spend the oil revenue in a wise manner, including ignoring investments in infrastructure — such as roads or bridges — that the country didn’t need.
An implementing country’s first EITI Report must be published within 18 months from the date the country was admitted as a candidate. There are 52 countries with membership that adhere to the standard.
Minister Trotman noted that, once accepted, Guyana would become the 53rd country in the EITI.
The application process began in 2010, when the previous administration gave its commitment to join the international standard. In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Guyana and EITI for assistance in preparing its candidacy.
Guyana has officially completed the sign-up step, which involved: Government engagement, company engagement, civil society engagement, the establishment of a multi-stakeholder group, and agreement on an EITI work plan.
With assistance from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, capacity-building symposiums were held earlier this year by the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI).
The GYEITI is a tripartite of government, industry and civil society. Its outreaches target communities that are traditionally engaged in the extractive industries, such as Bartica in Region Seven; Corriverton in Region Six; Linden in Region 10; Charity in Region Two; and in Georgetown, Region Four.
In June, a draft work plan was put together and later endorsed by the group.
The Guyana EITI official steering committee includes representatives from the extractive industries and from civil society. This is to ensure that Guyana meets all the milestones required for EITI compliance. Now that Guyana’s application has been submitted, it would be reviewed and deliberated upon at the next EITI International Conference, scheduled to take place in Indonesia in late October.