President Bio launches review of mining sector.
Newly-elected President of Sierra Leone Julius Bio set out his national agenda on natural resources during his ‘State of the Nation’ address on 10 May 2018. Among his priorities is a review of the mines and minerals act of 2009 and the mining lease agreements, enactment of the Extractive Industry Revenue Bill and the establishment of a Natural Resources Account for all revenues generated from extractives. “My government”, President Bio added, “will … ensure full transparency in the sector through complying with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards”.
“Transparency of revenues is an important part of the EITI, and our upcoming report will bring additional transparency to the sector,” says the National Coordinator of Sierra Leone EITI (SLEITI), Mina Horace. “But the EITI is about more than revenue transparency. SLEITI reports have delivered a number of recommendations that can help the government make progress on its broader reform agenda”, she adds.
According to EITI Regional Director Pablo Valverde, supporting reforms may require a change in how some members of SLEITI currently view the role of the EITI, from one of “policing” the government and companies to one of supporting reforms. “In order to fulfil its potential, it is important that the new government feels ownership over the EITI in Sierra Leone and sees it as a tool to improve reforms. If the aim of the EITI is to improve the governance of the sector, stakeholders may want to think about how best to anchor implementation in the government and bring the EITI closer to decision-makers” he said.
Important deposits, significant challenges
Sierra Leone has important mineral and diamond deposits but faces significant economic challenges. According to the 2015 SLEITI) Report, the economy shrank by 21% in 2015 largely due to the impact of the Ebola epidemic and suspension of iron ore production. A slump in global commodity prices in the same year deepened its woes. The mining sector contributes about 24% to GDP and over 80% to export earnings as well as around 15% of total revenue. SLEITI’s 2016 Report is scheduled to be published in the coming weeks.
Sierra Leone has implemented the EITI since February 2008. In Sierra Leone, the EITI is implemented by SLEITI, a government agency and a multi-stakeholder group that serves as its governing body. Sierra Leone's Validation against the Standard will commence on 1 July 2018. The country is compliant under the 2011 Rules. Sierra Leone is currently discussing where the EITI should be based in the new government structure.
To learn more about the EITI in Sierra Leone, go to Sierra Leone's EITI country page.