The EITI Board concluded that Argentina has achieved a moderate overall score in EITI implementation. Since joining the EITI in 2019, Argentina has adopted a flexible approach to its EITI reporting, enabling the government and multi-stakeholder group to provide timely, first-time disclosures and support public oversight of the extractive sector through the establishment of open portals and systematic disclosures.
The extractive industries are an important part of Argentina’s economy, accounting for 4.6% of national GDP and nearly 12% of exports in 2019. The country hosts one of the world’s largest non-conventional oil and gas reserves and is attracting new investments in its mining sector, particularly in new lithium projects. In this context, the EITI has provided a unique platform for stakeholders to discuss issues of extractive industry governance, and for the federal government to disclose data for the first time and accelerate the digitisation of sector information.
“Argentina has made encouraging progress in implementing the EITI in areas under the Federal Government’s jurisdiction,” said Helen Clark, EITI Board Chair. “I urge authorities to use the EITI to strengthen transparency further by making concrete plans for the next steps in its adapted implementation, with a view to ensuring comprehensive coverage of all provincial governments receiving material revenues from the mining, oil and gas sectors.”
Foundations of systematic disclosures
Argentina’s government systematically discloses much of the data required by the EITI Standard. The legal and fiscal framework, production and exports figures and non-tax revenues in offshore oil and gas are routinely published in open format on the government website and the Ministry of Energy website. In March, the government launched the Open Information System for the Community on Mining Activity (SIACAM), which provides information on mining exports, production and employment broken down by province. There are opportunities for the EITI to further support provincial authorities with publishing data on mining activities within their regions and streamlining disclosures from decentralised government systems. As a partner of the Opening Extractives programme, Argentina could also make greater use of its EITI implementation to support establishment of a public beneficial ownership register for extractive companies.
Harmonising disclosure to inform evidence-based debate
The terms of Argentina’s adapted EITI implementation have allowed the government and EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG) to focus on disclosing information on extractive activities directly under the national government jurisdiction, primarily offshore oil and gas. The MSG has also committed to engage with provincial governments, map existing disclosures of EITI data that are reported at the provincial level, and to pilot EITI disclosures in one or more provinces.
Having adopted a flexible approach to its EITI reporting, Argentina has foregone the process of reconciling government revenues with company payments. However, there is an opportunity to further develop the comprehensiveness and reliability of its financial EITI disclosures, with a view to institutionalising transparency in the government’s oversight of the sector. Translating transparency into accountability in the governance of the extractive industries will require engagement of provincial stakeholders in Argentina’s EITI process. Local communities have a right to know how their natural resources are being exploited, and provincial governments can strengthen their investment promotion efforts by establishing robust transparency mechanisms in their oversight of the mining, oil and gas sectors.
Strengthening the EITI’s diagnostic of practices
Having established a mechanism for annual EITI reporting, Argentina now has the opportunity to leverage its EITI implementation to provide a regular diagnostic of the rules and practices in the governance of the extractive industries. There is scope for expanding this diagnostic to assess practices related to licensing, contract disclosure, beneficial ownership transparency and the management of state-owned extractive companies. This review of policy and practice in the management of the extractive industries would help strengthen the Argentina EITI’s role as an instrument to support national reforms.