The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on: Iraq EITI demonstrates that transparency is achievable even under difficult circumstances

In spite of the ongoing political, financial and security crisis, Iraq continues to publish data that could be used to inform the political debate.

As explosions rock Baghdad, citizens storm the parliament and Iraqi forces prepare to retake Fallujah from Islamic State (Daesh), Iraq continues to provide its citizens with important information about the oil and gas sector through the publication of EITI Reports. The data in the latest report could be used by parliamentarians, civil society and journalists to inform the national debate close to the core of the current political crisis.

Long subject to public scrutiny through the UN mandated Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), Iraq’s Ministry of Oil already publishes a large amount of information on its websites including monthly production, domestic consumption, exports, including average prices, and relevant legal framework. Unique among EITI countries, Iraq also publishes and reconciles figures from the buyers in its yearly reports. Interested citizens can also use IEITI Reports to understand what each of the national oil companies does with the oil it produces each month, including how much goes to refineries, how much is exported or lost to waste.

Iraq EITI 2014 Report

Figure 1 North Oil Company Crude Oil Flow (in barrels - rounded) - Source: IEITI 2014 Report

In many of the 51 countries that implement the EITI, the multi-stakeholder structure of the EITI is used to convey information to interested parties in a way that promotes and enables an informed debate. In Iraq, the information provided by the EITI could be used to explain to the public why the government’s revenues continue to fall despite increased production, bring clarity to the status of the longstanding debate about the hydrocarbon law and inform budgetary decisions.

Some USD 60 billion, or roughly 80% of Iraq’s USD 75 billion budget, will reportedly go to paying public servants’ salaries in 2016. The latest IEITI Report shows that in 2014, the Ministry of Oil employed 127,741 workers (8.2% of the total work force), while the Ministry of Industry of Minerals employed 138,049 (9.2%). According to the same report, some 2.5 times more government employees work in mineral production than do in oil production. Meanwhile the report states that oil activities accounted for 64% of total GDP that year while no revenues were recorded from mineral production.

Iraq has implemented the EITI since 2010 and was declared an EITI compliant country by the Board following a successful Validation in 2012. A new Validation under the more comprehensive EITI Standard is scheduled for 1 July 2016.