"EITI will be an important tool in driving the recovery of Iraq"

At the Iraq Compact Review Conference 29 May 2008, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said: "The Government has also committed to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)." Jonas Moberg, Head of the EITI International Secretariat, welcomed Iraq's commitment to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and made the following statement:

There could be no better illustration of Iraq's concrete efforts to build a new administration based on good governance than its commitment to Implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) announced in April 2008.  The EITI will be an important tool in driving the recovery of the nation by ensuring that its abundant oil and gas wealth can be managed for the benefit of its citizens and sustained peace.

The EITI is a coalition of supporting organisations including the Governments of the US, UK, and Norway and the World Bank; implementing countries, including Yemen and Nigeria; supporting companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell; and over 300 civil society organisations including Oxfam and Transparency International.  On behalf of this broad and active coalition, I applaud the leadership of the Government and of Deputy Prime Minister Dr Barham A Salih in committing to implement the EITI.

There are currently 23 EITI Candidate Countries implementing what is becoming the global standard for transparent governance of extractive resources. The EITI is a nationally driven process for companies to disclose what they pay in taxes and other payments to Government, and for Government to disclose the receipt of payments from companies. An independent reconciliation is then undertaken, overseen by a multi-stakeholder group of government, civil society and the operating companies. The EITI Reports are then made publically available. The EITI thereby promotes transparency between companies and government, and accountability between government and its citizens.

Iraq's commitment to the EITI is a clear and practical illustration of the spirit of the Compact between Iraq and the international community. We now call upon the international community to provide Iraq with technical support to help implement the initiative.

Iraq is the single largest country in terms of proven oil reserves (11% of world's resources) to commit to the EITI.  Oil production is at a critical stage in Iraq, with the drafting of oil legislation for the regulation of foreign investment which will be followed by a series of contract awards.  I hope that the EITI will sit within this regulatory framework.  The next steps in the EITI implementation process include consultations with local stakeholders, the appointment of a senior official to lead the implementation, and the development of a workplan for the full implementation.

I would like to conclude by echoing Dr Barham's words on announcing his Government's commitment ‘Iraq is in the midst of a historic campaign of revival and reconstruction after decades of tyranny, mismanagement and war. The vast oil wealth that the country was blessed with is a key asset as it embarks on this journey.  In order for the people of Iraq to enjoy the full benefit of this wealth rather than it becoming a curse as happened so many times in the past, oil and gas need to be managed in an efficient and responsible way.'

In building a unified society with nationwide confidence in the government and its management of what is after all every Iraqi's oil riches, the commitment to an internationally anchored, transparent and consultative process should be welcomed and supported by everyone.

Jonas Moberg
Head of the EITI International Secretariat
Stockholm 29 May, 2008