What’s it all for? Recognising EITI impact

EITI Manila Board Meeting Blog: Day 2

The EITI Board continued its 38th meeting in Manila today, building on its first day of discussions on incentivising and acknowledging systematic disclosure. The EITI Board turned its attention to recognising and assessing EITI impact, highlighting opportunities for key countries and planning for the coming year.

Impact through the eyes of the implementers

Building on its discussions about the nature of the EITI’s various impacts and how to measure them, the Board started the day by hearing directly from representatives of three EITI implementing countries in Asia-Pacific about their own assessment of the impact of transparency. Holding EITI Board meetings in implementing countries presents a crucial opportunity for Board members to directly witness the realities of implementation. This is key to ensuring that the Board deliberations are anchored in a realistic appraisal of the challenges and opportunities of implementation in each of the implementing countries.

Karla Espinosa of the Philippines EITI highlighted how local governments had been empowered through EITI implementation, gaining a better understanding of the share of national wealth they are entitled to and the execution of transfers. This had improved local government’s revenue projections and improved central government accountability . Ankhbayar Ganbold from the Mongolian Prime Minister’s Office highlighted the significant improvements in EITI data accessibility and usability, through Mongolia’s EITI Data Portal. The ability to query payments, license and production data by location had expanded the use of data, compared to older EITI Reports of over a thousand pages. This data had been of key use for local communities, civil society and others to clarify misconceptions, at times at the very local level. Ankhbayar highlighted the use of data on Boroo gold mine’s payments to government to address allegations that the company had not made payments to government in2015. Mayambo Peipul of Papua New Guinea’s Business Against Corruption Alliance (BACA) highlighted the early impacts of following up on EITI recommendations, not least in terms of gradually improving state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) transparency and launching improvements to the currently manual oil and gas license register.

Inadequate progress but clear opportunities for Iraq and Niger

The Board moved on to consider two more Validations following its four decisions the previous day. It agreed that Iraq and Niger had achieved inadequate progress in implementing the EITI Standard. While emphasising the significant actions needed to make further progress in implementing the EITI Standard, the Board also emphasised the clear and in some instances low-hanging opportunities to strengthen the impact of EITI in both countries. The Board first considered broad impact and opportunities, before delving into technical discussions.

Iraq is unique amongst EITI implementing countries in that the government owns all oil and gas resources.  Therefore they could greatly benefit from clarifying the financial relations between its SOEs, improving production and export figures and moving from a standalone EITI Report to systematic disclosures. The EITI could also play a key role in clarifying the SOEs’ financial relations in Niger.  In addition, it could provide a channel for engaging local communities, empowering audit institutions, strengthening traceability of revenues and improving domestic revenue mobilizations.

Strengthening governance at the national and global levels

The EITI agreed to review its grievance procedures and its guidance on per diem transparency throughout the organisation.  Data from countries on allowances provided to EITI stakeholders for attending meetings varied wildly.

Planning for the year ahead

The EITI discussed its workplan for 2018 with a strong emphasis on continued work on encouraging countries to make systematic disclosures of data, beneficial ownership transparency, commodity trading, and other key areas set out from previous Board strategy discussions. Whilst the finances of the EITI International Secretariat appeared healthy, funding problems for implementation in country was a constant theme of the two days.

Building capacity, sharing practice

Following the Asia-Pacific implementers’ presentations to the EITI Board, more than 40 participants in the regional capacity building workshop turned their attention to exploring concrete means of using the EITI Standard to improve extractive sector management. Participants exchanged experiences and approaches to EITI reporting related to extractives SOEs, subnational payments and transfers. Participants also tackled more challenging frontier issues ranging from project-level reporting and mainstreaming to beneficial ownership reporting.