EITI Myanmar week – day one

Opening up EITI data and reaching out to new countries were the focus on the day before the Board meeting.

1. Opening up EITI Data: Report from the EITI “#trillion$question” workshop.

On the eve of the EITI Board meeting in Myanmar, the EITI and World Bank hosted a workshop focused on making better use of EITI data. There are now more than 200 EITI Reports from 35 countries covering over US $1.3 trillion in government revenues. Until recently most of this data has been “locked” in hardcopy or PDF files, making it difficult to access and use. The EITI Standard, agreed in 2013, puts a greater emphasis on improving the accessibility of data in EITI Reports. Three presenters from the region outlined their work to address these challenges:

Maryati Abdullah from Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia showcased the work being done to make use of open EITI data, including: (1) an assessment of revenue sharing in the Riau province, (2) mapping production and revenue in nickel mining in South East Sulawesi, (3) mapping the mine concessions of West Kalimantan, (4) revenue sharing in West Lombok and West Sumbawa, and (5) Making the EITI report accessible for Papua’s citizens. You can read more about their work here.

Elvira Jantureyeva from the EITI Secretariat in Kazakhstan showed how the EITI reporting process in Kazakhstan has been streamlined by embedding company reporting into an online reporting system (the unified state system for the regulation of subsoil management, see here). The latest EITI Report, based on this approach, is due to be published in the coming weeks.

Gabriel Baleos from the Open Government Partnership in the Philippines showed how the data from the first EITI Report in the Philippines will be linked up to wider transparency efforts via Open Data Philippines. Because these systems will be interoperable, stakeholders will be able to “follow the money” from tax payment and distribution (via the EITI) through open data on budget and budget execution.

The second half of the workshop took a different tack, focussing on the demands from EITI users. Using email, twitter and facebook, we invited people to pose questions about the extractive industries in Asia. Here are some of the questions we received:

  • Which countries in Asia are “resource rich”?
  • Which countries earn the largest revenues from the extractive industries?
  • If the oil prices falls, which countries will most benefit, and which will suffer?

There were also questions about specific countries:

  • When will Timor Leste’s petroleum fund run out?
  • What will be the impact on Mongolia if coal prices continue to fall?
  • How can the EITI help support the peace process in the Philippines?

We also asked participants:

  • What additional data has the greatest potential to transform public debate?

We’ll write up some of the responses in the coming days. A few initial reflections:

First, even apparently simple questions, such as “Which countries in Asia are resource rich?” can be difficult to answer. What natural resources count? Should we focus on potential or proven reserves? Should we use GDP as a reference point, or the sector’s contribution to exports? Some countries (like Indonesia) are indisputably resource rich. But many other countries (e.g., Afghanistan) have great, albeit unproven, potential.

Second, the EITI Reports are increasingly a rich source of information … if you know where to look! There is a lot more that can be done to publicise the information that is being generated through the EITI process.

Finally, while the EITI predominantly looks back in time (the latest EITI reports cover 2012 or 2013), stakeholders are often most interested with what lies ahead.

Thinking more about the users of EITI data, and their expectations for the EITI process, is clearly instructive.

The workshop closed with a presentation from the EITI Secretariat and from Aasmund Andersen from the Revenue Development Foundation. As more and more data is generated, we need to work more on developing data standards so that data can be collected and disseminated in consistent format. The World Bank, IMF and the International Secretariat are working together to develop these standards. Aasmund illustrated the potential of this work, highlighting the case of Sierra Leone. RDF has been working with the government to develop an Online Repository, with data on all mineral rights, export licenses and related payments managed by the National Minerals Agency. When government systems are strengthened in this way, the requisite data for EITI purposes is easily extracted.

For more information on our work on open EITI data, please contact Sam Bartlett (sbartlett@eiti.org).

2. EITI in Asia Outreach Seminar

Today was also the first day of an EITI outreach seminar, convened by the EITI Secretariat and GIZ. Government representatives from throughout South East Asia are meeting to explore the benefits EITI implementation, including representative from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The purpose of the workshop is to increase understanding of how the EITI works, discuss challenges with resource governance and how these can be addressed through the EITI, to learn about multi-stakeholder governance, and to understand the EITI sign-up steps and the candidature application process. Participants will also observe the EITI Board meeting that kicks off tomorrow.

Stay tuned for further updates from Naypyidaw!