By Clare Short, EITI Chair
Next year will mark ten years since the first EITI Conference, where the EITI Principles were agreed. These principles state that wealth from a country's natural resources should benefit all its citizens and that this will require high standards of transparency and accountability.
At this year's EITI Conference, an improved EITI Standard will be adopted. This will be a significant moment in the EITI's history: it will bring us many steps further towards realising the aspirations that were first laid down in the EITI Principles.
We have have worked together on a revised Standard over the last year. There is an emerging consensus on changes that will ensure higher quality EITI Reports, simpler implementation and use of the EITI as a platform for wider reforms. Although there are some issues that have not been resolved, the EITI Board have come close to agreement in principle on a wide range of proposals.
I would like to draw attention to five of the changes - out of many - that we are working on:
1) Making the EITI Reports more understandable
At present, most EITI Reports are difficult to read and interpret. They often require that the reader has significant technical understanding and knowledge about the country's extractives sector and government accounting.
The Board has therefore agreed that reports in the future should contain contextual information. The revised Standard is likely to require that EITI Reports include information about the contribution of the extractive sector to the economy, production data, a description of the fiscal regime, an overview of relevant laws, and a description of how extractive industry revenues are recorded in national budgets. It is also proposed that countries should provide an overview of licenses and license holders.
2) Making EITI more relevant in each country
EITI needs to be better grounded in a national dialogue about natural resource governance.
In the revised EITI Standard, it is proposed that stakeholders in each country should agree a work plan with objectives and activities that are related to domestic reforms and priorities, thus strengthening the link with the EITI Principles. Countries will be encouraged to articulate what they want to achieve with the EITI and set out how they want to achieve it. The scope of EITI implementation and links to other reforms should be tailored to contribute to these desired objectives.
3) Better and more accurate disclosure
Most countries disclose what each company is paying to the government, though the EITI standard only requires these figures in aggregate.
The proposal is that we should require that EITI Reports disclose the payments broken down by each company, and by revenue stream. EITI reports will in the future also be made available electronically.
4) Recognising countries that go beyond the minimum
The Validation system, which tests whether countries implement the EITI in accordance with its Rules, is currently not functioning adequately, nor does it recognize countries that perform well.
With a proposal for more frequent and nuanced validations, I believe that the EITI will, to a greater extent, recognise countries that exceed the minimum requirements, and create incentives for more innovative use of EITI to the benefit of the country.
5) A clearer set of rules, with room for adaptation
With its principles, criteria, requirements and policy notes, the EITI Rules can be hard to understand. Many of the requirements are overlapping and repetitive.
The revised EITI Standard will be restructured, in order to condense the current 21 requirements and policy notes to a shorter and more coherent set of requirements.
When the EITI Board meets, in February in Oslo, we will consider final detailed proposals and we aim to shortly thereafter finalise the revised Standard. We appreciate and take very seriously the comments, expertise and views that have been put forward throughout the process.
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