EITI Brief: Quantifying intangibles
The EITI offers credible insights into institutional strength and governance on its member countries. For investors more broadly, the information required under the EITI Standard can be compared to the market intelligence provided by private-sector consultancies and raise the bar for information providers.
This Brief introduces the EITI Standard, examines the value of its information for frontier markets and emerging economies, and reflects on the common interests of EITI stakeholders and the broader investment community. Examples of concrete actions credit rating agencies could undertake are also included.
This publication is only available in English.
A growing body of empirical research has highlighted the positive relationship between the degree of fiscal transparency and measures of fiscal sustainability (such as government deficits and debts), with a stronger correlation among low and middle income countries than among high income countries.”
– International Monetary Fund, 2012.
The EITI is a global standard that promotes the open and accountable management of natural resources, through the disclosure and reconciliation of data on the oil, gas and mining industries in 48 countries. Credit rating analysts (CRAs) can use the EITI to deepen their analysis and make more accurate assessments.
The ‘big three’ CRAs (Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch) use governance and transparency as a marker in their ratings methodologies, both directly in their own qualitative judgements and indirectly through third-party rankings. Rating agencies may benefit from more closely tracking EITI implementation. In more opaque frontier economies, EITI Reports provide information of relevance to ratings assessments both of governments and companies. In emerging and middle-income economies, the EITI process provides a mechanism through which to gauge institutional reform both in the extractive industries and in broader fiscal revenue management. Data disclosed through the EITI are increasingly quoted in frontier markets’ sovereign bond prospectuses, commodity producers’ share offerings and fundraising brochures for private equity and investment funds.
The EITI offers credible insights into institutional strength and governance. For investors more broadly, the information required under the EITI Standard can be compared to the market intelligence provided by private-sector consultancies and raise the bar for information providers. This Brief introduces the EITI Standard, examines the value of its information for frontier markets and emerging economies, and reflects on the common interests of EITI stakeholders and the broader investment community. Examples of concrete actions credit rating agencies could undertake are also included.
The EITI International Secretariat would welcome feedback on how to strengthen the relationship between the EITI and CRAs.
Credit rating agencies (CRA) evaluate countries’ ability and likelihood to pay back debt. The higher the rating, the better the borrowing conditions (such as lower interest rates) a country will have on the international market. Above image is a screenshot of Standard & Poor’s country ratings as of their website as of June 2015. Data in EITI Reports include a range of information relevant when evaluating a country’s credit rating. Many EITI implementing countries (see map on opposite) are rated below investment grade (image: https://register.standardandpoors.com/sri/).
Member countries of the EITI are coloured according to their progress in implementing the EITI Requirements. Green indicates countries that have been validated against the requirements on transparency in the extractives sector and found to fulfil these. Blue countries are candidates in the process of implementing the requirements. Countries in amber are suspended from the EITI, as they have been found not meeting deadlines or not providing the necessary political climate to be recognised as compliant or candidate.
The EITI is a global standard designed to strengthen governance and inform public debate in the mining and petroleum sectors. Implemented by 48 countries ranging from Indonesia to the United States, it is supported by over 90 of the world’s largest extractive companies (including BHP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Shell, Total and Trafigura), as well as state-owned enterprises (such as Pemex, Petrobras and StatoilHydro), development finance institutions (like the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and World Bank) and institutional investors (including Allianz, Goldman Sachs AM, Schroders and UBS Global AM) with over USD 19 trillion in combined assets under management.
Government, industry and civil society organisations cooperate through a EITI national multi-stakeholder group (MSG) in each country to implement the EITI Standard. Their annual EITI Reports reconcile payments from companies in the sector to government, but also include comprehensive market information on licensing, production, revenue collection, revenue allocation and the role of state-owned enterprises. More credible than any unilateral declarations by any one stakeholder group, these disclosures are the product of consensus amongst the three parties. The engagement of an Independent Administrator (such as Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC and others) ensures an authoritative assessment of data quality and a comprehensive reconciliation of payments. Implementing countries are validated against the EITI Standard every three years.
Below we highlight three common features in EITI Reporting of interest to CRAs: market information, a financial assessment of payments to government, and data on government expenditure.
Box 1: Key facts and outputs of the EITI
The EITI is a global standard designed to strengthen governance and inform public debate in the mining and petroleum sectors.
The EITI Standard lays out seven requirements on how to structure disclosures in the extractives sector, including information on tax payments, licenses, contracts, production and other key elements around resource extraction. Countries are validated against the Standard every three years.
As of 1 August 2015, 48 countries are implementing the EITI Standard.
39 of these have published reports, covering a total 246 fiscal years and disclosing over USD 1.6 trillion in government revenues.
Key EITI outputs per country:
The EITI Standard requires that countries publish information on licensing, production, state ownership, the structure of state-owned enterprises, transfers to local governments and social and infrastructure investments. It encourages contract transparency, divulging beneficial ownership of extractive industry companies and disclosure of any transit payments, among others. Countries that implement the EITI are required to disclose the financial structure of state-owned enterprises, including loans and guarantees provided by central government, their quasi-fiscal expenditures and their role in the extractive industries. The EITI Reports cover subnational payments by companies, and subnational transfers from central government, as well as the institutional relationship between central and subnational governments. They also contain an assessment of quality assurance and auditing procedures for both government and companies.
Box 2: Market information of greatest relevance to credit ratings from the EITI process
|EITI Reports include a wealth of market information of relevance for analysts, including:|
The most detailed information produced through the EITI is the reconciliation of payments by companies to government. Reconciliation is conducted by a third-party consultant, an independent administrator, commonly an auditing company, but final publication is agreed by the MSG. This financial information includes company payments by type (revenue stream), and the identification of discrepancies between company and government records. The EITI also requires publication of summary data templates, which aggregate information disclosed through the EITI in a consistent IMF GFS (Government Finance Statistics) format. Key data points in these summary data templates include payments by category, state equity dividends and social contributions, on a per company basis.
The Philippines’ 2012 EITI Summary Data Template provides key data points in a machine-readable format, for ease of cross-country and multi-year comparisons. You can download the data sheet at http://www.ph-eiti.org/#/EITI-Report/First-Country-Report
Box 3: Financial information of greatest relevance to credit ratings from the EITI process
The EITI also covers some information on expenditure, most notably on government income earmarked for specific allocations. EITI Reports provide key insights into subnational revenue allocation, quasi-fiscal expenditure by state-owned enterprises and the budgeting process more broadly. While not an instrument for a comprehensive diagnostic of public financial management, the EITI opens up key information on expenditures connected to revenue from extractive industries.
Box 4: Expenditure information of greatest relevance to credit ratings from the EITI process
Rating agencies track several proxies for institutional strength, governance and efforts to curb corruption, with different weights in their respective methodologies. All three main credit rating agencies (CRAs) rely primarily on third-party indicators to make such qualitative judgements. “While we have our own impressions from our interactions with the government to help us judge institutional strength, we also look at third-party assessments,” says Moody’s Christian de Guzman. These include World Bank’s annual Doing Business (DB) and Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) reports, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Indicators (HDI), Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TI’s CPI) and the IMF and World Bank’s Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC). While S&P assigns a set 25% weight to its “Political Score”, which includes transparency improvements, Moody’s and Fitch assess such factors on a rolling scale with no fixed weight.
“There are certainly challenges in quantifying transparency improvements, but we tend to look at everything available on the topic.” - Craig Michaels, associate director of sovereign and international public finance ratings at Standard & Poor’s (S&P).
In frontier markets and even emerging economies where other information may already be available, the EITI provides a useful gauge for tracking reforms in extractive industries. The EITI information provides an agreed, reliable and timely basis for public debate. It also identifies potential improvements in the data collection system and wider reforms. For example, the Philippines’ first EITI Report covering 2012 includes recommendations such as more efficient financial transfers between central government agencies and local government units, enhanced visibility of the effectiveness of subnational transfers, disaggregation of reporting by individual company rather than by consortium, and amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code to lift the prohibition on tax information disclosures. The process also highlighted the difference in accounting procedures between companies (accrual-based) and government (cash-based).
Tracking EITI implementation is not as straightforward as following a ranking or index. Yet EITI Reports, and countries’ other EITI outputs (including annual activity reports, Validations, and secretariat assessments) provide insight into the nature of debates, key recommendations and the blockages to meaningful reform. Ratings agencies could benefit from the quantitative and qualitative information in EITI Reports, to complement other third-party sources of information.
Box 5: Institutionalising reform in the Philippines
The primary driver of 20 sovereign credit rating upgrades for the Philippines over 2010-2015 has been macroeconomic (improved GDP growth and external position), political stability, efforts to curb corruption and fiscal reforms have been secondary drivers according to Moody’s, S&P and Fitch’s respective credit rating upgrades. Yet while secondary, these factors were central to the Aquino administration’s reform agenda. “Governance reform has been the centre-piece of the Aquino administration's policy efforts,” notes Fitch in its March 2014 affirmation of the Philippines’ rating.
This focus on enforcement and collection, a key rationale for implementing the EITI, has raised fiscal revenues significantly, albeit from a low base.
EITI implementation in the Philippines is driven by efforts to improve revenue collection but also drive broader reforms. As such, it is proving a useful gauge of broader reforms and a means of institutionalising reforms, a particularly important variable for medium-term credit rating prospects. Thus EITI implementation provides more grounds for optimism for the continuation of reforms beyond political change in power. Once a country implements the EITI, it commits itself to a structure (the MSG) to drive reform efforts, with strong reputational lock-in effects. “Even though a change of administration after the presidential elections in 2016 represents some uncertainty for reforms, the risks have shifted toward maintaining the impetus and direction of the process, away from a potential reversal or abandonment of advances achieved to date,” S&P noted in its May 2014 sovereign credit rating upgrade.
The EITI is a process, not merely a series of reports. As part of preparing the first PH-EITI Report, some 30 mining and 6 oil and gas contracts were published, providing information of use for modelling financial revenue flows. Some of the key recommendations of the first PH-EITI Report being implemented include rationalisation of subnational transfers to local government units, clarification of tax incentives extended by the Board of Investment, revisions to the National Inland Revenue Code, improved oversight of the payments to indigenous peoples and social development and management projects. It has also served to highlight the discrepancies inherent in reconciling companies’ accrual-based accounting with the government’s cash-based accounting system.
Change in political power, subsequent reforms and higher growth have improved the Philippines’ country rating from the “big three”. Implementation of international initiatives like the EITI serves as bellwethers of the success of reform efforts. (Image source: Rappler.com) The commitment to the EITI occurred in July 2012, coinciding with improving sovereign credit ratings. Implementation of efforts like the EITI is an example of such reforms and may have been reflected in credit ratings improvements illustrated above.
The value of the EITI process for CRAs clearly varies from country to country. In more opaque frontier markets, disclosures under the EITI provide crucial new information not usually accessible to CRAs. As Moody’s notes in its assessment of Papua New Guinea’s sovereign risk, “Transparency surrounding off-budget and public-sector enterprise borrowing is lacking.” In such resource dependent frontier markets, the EITI requires disclosures of key interest to CRAs, including assessments of the quality of public data, clarification of regulatory oversight in extractive industries and, perhaps most crucially, the financial guarantees to state-owned enterprises in these sectors. In some cases, improved visibility on these SOEs becomes even more important in a depressed global commodity-price environment.
Data disclosed through the EITI are increasingly quoted in frontier markets’ sovereign bond prospectuses, commodity producers’ share offerings and fundraising brochures for private equity and investment funds.
For investors more broadly, the information required under the EITI Standard can be compared to the market intelligence provided by private-sector consultancies and raise the bar for information providers.
Box 6: Opening up fiscal information in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Admitted as an EITI candidate in March 2014, PNG is working to produce its first EITI Report, covering 2013 financial data, by the end of 2015. Disclosures in the PNG-EITI Report will be the first covering the mining, oil and gas sectors agreed upon by the three stakeholder groups, thereby providing an independent and credible data set.
Significant disclosures are required of the state-owned enterprises in the extractive industries including Petromin, Mineral Resources Development Company and National Petroleum Company PNG.
Disclosure of the financial relations between government and these SOEs, alongside their social (non-commercial) expenditures, will clarify the structure of their state support and will support government efforts to restructure all SOEs into a single public asset-management vehicle, the Kumul Trust. This improved oversight of SOEs becomes even more significant during global commodity price downturns.
Clarification of the regulatory framework and licensing procedures, including financial and technical criteria for license awards, will be included in the EITI report, and is an important gauge of the practical implementation of the government’s statutory oversight. Even before publication of the first PNG-EITI Report, the MSG is undertaking assessments of the quality of public-sector data, of use for analysts tracking the PNG Government’s disclosures.
As part of preparing the PNG-EITI Report, the MSG is further working to publish at least some contracts in the mining sector, which would prove a significant resource for analysts seeking to model public-sector revenue flows from specific projects.
Particularly since the global financial crisis, the factors influencing qualitative judgments in credit ratings, such as those on institutional strength and governance, are facing more rigorous scrutiny. CRAs would thus benefit from tracking the EITI more closely.
The IMF provides a useful description of transparency in 1998, which clearly relates to the scope of EITI. “It involves ready access to reliable, comprehensive, timely, understandable, and internationally comparable information on government activities so that the electorate and financial markets can accurately assess the government’s financial position and the true costs and benefits of government activities, including their present and future economic and social implications.”
Quantifying transparency remains challenging. Yet, a growing body of literature links improvements in fiscal transparency with credit ratings and sovereign borrowing costs.
A study by the Central Bank of Ireland’s Laura Moretti on sovereign bond spreads in 18 emerging markets found that “more transparent countries enjoy lower spreads.” The London School of Economics’ Jules Tilly studied the link between fiscal transparency, as measured by the Open Budget Index, and five-year credit default swaps in 36 countries from 2007 to 2011. The study found that, while transparency had little impact on the cost of funding before the crisis, this has now changed. “In the post-2008 era, the relationship between fiscal transparency and investor perceptions has strengthened considerably.”
The IMF has studied the impacts of improvements of fiscal transparency, as measured through the Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC). It finds that more transparency reduces the uncertainty over a country's finances. This improvement is more pronounced in emerging economies, according to a June 2012 paper. In developed markets more fiscal transparency improves fiscal policies and outcomes. Over time, both of these influence the primary fiscal balance and lead to a reduction of gross debt.
A separate IMF paper from August 2012 makes a similar point. “A growing body of empirical research has highlighted the positive relationship between the degree of fiscal transparency and measures of fiscal sustainability (such as government deficits and debts), with a stronger correlation among low and middle income countries than among high-income countries.” For higher-income countries, the evidence points towards a positive relationship between fiscal transparency and market perceptions of fiscal solvency. This is expressed in the credit default swap spreads on sovereign debt, credit ratings and foreign portfolio investment. The more transparent governments are on their fiscal position, the better their borrowing position.
Thus as the research indicates, there are clear advantages for CRAs to use EITI Reports, as these contain valuable information on a country's fiscal and performance related to extractive industries. More disclosure could in the mid-term improve a country’s borrowing conditions.
Box 7: Relationship between fiscal transparency to government debt and CDS spreads
Improvements of fiscal transparency could improve a country’s rating, and as such improve its lending conditions EITI implementation is one type of improvement in fiscal transparency. Implementing the EITI provides a signal to the market of a government’s reform efforts and can thus prove a useful gauge of the pace of reforms.
Image source: IMF (7 August 2012), “Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Risk”, p. 6
Left: The IMF paper found that particularly in low-income countries, improved fiscal transparency correlated to lower indebtedness levels. A lower debt/GDP level indicates a country’s better likelihood of repaying its debt.
Right: The CDS spread is an indicator of the likeliness of a country to default on its debt obligations. The IMF study shows a strong correlation between better fiscal transparency and a lower CDS spread for higher and middle-income countries.
Practical interaction with the EITI
With a clear overlap of interests between credit rating assessments and information disclosed through the EITI, analysts can use the EITI process in a number of concrete ways. Analysts can use EITI information for their sovereign rating assessments, due diligence on listed companies and interact with the MSG to support the EITI reporting process. Credit rating agencies can play a key role in helping EITI implementing countries overcome the significant data challenges of emerging economies, while demonstrating the business case for EITI to governments.
Box 8: How credit rating agencies can use EITI information
|The following is a preliminary list of ways that credit rating analysts may consider using the EITI:|
Box 9: Sections of Moody’s and S&P’s rating methodologies where EITI data is relevant
The table is from Moody's (2013) "Sovereign Bond Ratings". https://www.moodys.com/ researchandratings/
Figures and information in EITI reports can specifically influence Moody’s Institutional Strength indicators.
This table is based on the information found in S&P's (2013) Sovereign Government Rating Methodology and Assumptions.
Figures and information in EITI reports can specifically influence S&P’s institutional and governance effectiveness indicator.
Box 10: EITI data in the credit rating process
Standard & Poor’s rating process (source: Standard & Poor’s website, EITI addition by the International Secretariat). EITI reporting information is a source of rich information for the analysis phase.
 Moody’s, in its reaffirmation of PNG’s Ba2 Stable rating, June 2014
 Koptis, George and Jon Craig, (1998), ‘Transparency in Government Operations’, IMF Occasional Paper n.158, p1, as related to in http://www.lse.ac.uk/IPA/images/Documents/PublicSphere/2013/8-fiscal-transparency-spreads-20121.pdf
 Laura Moretti (June 2012), “Transparency and Emerging Market Bond Spreads”, http://www2.unine.ch/files/content/sites/irene/files/shared/documents/s%C3%A9minaires/Moretti.pdf
 IMF (June 2012), “Fiscal Transparency, Fiscal Performance and Credit Ratings“, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12156.pdf
 IMF (7 August 2012), “Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Risk”, http://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2012/080712.pdf