Kiev Board meeting: EITI Board looks inwards, outwards and forward

Day 3: The 31st meeting of the EITI Board started in Kiev, Ukraine.

Only seven weeks after its previous meeting in Switzerland, the Board gathers in Ukraine to prepare decisions ahead of the Global Conference.

It’s about transparency, not about the EITI

The agendas of EITI Board meetings often involve detail-crunching on technical issues like Validation, internal governance, and the interpretation and refinement of EITI Requirements. The meeting in Kiev is no exception. Underlying these discussions is the will to make the EITI as relevant, cost-efficient, encouraging and fair as possible.

Before the Board delved into the detail in Kiev, the meeting was kicked off with a presentation that served as a reminder about the essence of the EITI.  Ruslan Baimishev, National Coordinator of EITI Kazakhstan, introduced his country’s online portal for extractives data. An interactive license map and fresh data on revenue and payments online make accessing and using EITI data easier.  As Clare Short, EITI Chair, said this was not an online EITI, it was an online portal for data about the sector, including EITI data.    

Kazakhstan started disclosing this information before the EITI Standard was adopted. On the other hand, being part of the EITI gives an additional push for transparency. Kazakhstan EITI sets a deadline for companies to insert information on the payments they have made to the government in the online system, and reviews any possible discrepancies between government and company data. Integrating the EITI requirements on revenue transparency into this system enabled Kazakhstan to be the first country to publish its 2014 EITI Report already in September.

Sorting out housekeeping

In the long run, strengthening government systems should make the EITI obsolete. Mainstreaming transparency is also one of the themes of the 2016 EITI Global Conference. However, we are not quite there yet.

To keep the EITI running, the Board looked into organisational issues related to the EITI’s functioning and funding. The Articles of Association note that the EITI’s funding consists of voluntary contributions and grants. This makes planning ahead challenging as low commodity prices and cuts in aid budgets affect contributions from supporting governments and companies. The Board agreed to review the EITI’s funding arrangements in search for a more predictable solution.

The Board also agreed to move ahead with a number of changes to its internal governance arrangements ahead of the EITI Global Conference in Lima.  The Conference is the highest governing body of the EITI and agree these changes to the organisation’s Articles and governance, as well as changes to the Standard, and a new Board, including a new Chair.  

Not all quiet on the Validation front

The last agenda item of the day, refining the Validation model, made the discussions the Board had had earlier in the day seem like a warm-up exercise. The Board is seeking a consensus on a Validation system that would encourage and recognise progress and reforms while upholding the EITI Requirements.  The discussion was informed by pilot validations recently carried out in Mongolia, Sao Tome & Principe, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. A pilot is presently being conducted in Ghana.

On the first day of the meeting in Kiev, the Board sought to find common understanding about the consequences that countries should face if Validation finds that they do not meet all requirements and the time granted for implementing corrective actions. It also considered questions on what to measure, how to measure it, and who should do it. While the devil remains in the detail, the Board took steps towards a compromise. There is still a long way to a decision, and the Board will return to this topic in the morning of the second day of the meeting.