The international EITI Board met on 30 June to consider a complaint raised by Publish What You Pay – United States (PWYP-US) concerning the activities of an alternate Board member from the oil and gas sub-constituency of EITI supporting companies. The complaint alleged that conduct by the individual was in conflict with the EITI Articles of Association and the EITI Code of Conduct. It requested termination of the individual’s membership of the EITI Board.
The grievance raised by PWYP-US highlights an underlying concern, which is the level of compliance of companies with the Expectations for EITI supporting companies. The EITI International Secretariat recently assessed company practice in relation to the Expectations. The review showed that the majority of EITI supporting companies are adhering to robust reporting policies. It was concerning, however, that the review also identified gaps in performance.
In particular, the review highlighted that approximately thirty per cent of EITI supporting companies have not yet included information on taxes and payments for non-EITI implementing countries in their public reports other than at an aggregated level, and have not explained why they have not disclosed this data. The EITI provides a vehicle for improving transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. Disclosure of government payments and taxes at a project-level is an essential aspect of transparency and should be included in company reporting.
When the EITI Board met on 9-10 June, it agreed to consider the assessment findings and their implications. At the Board’s most recent meeting on 30 June, I noted that the EITI Board’s Governance and Oversight Committee would now undertake work to clarify and strengthen the Expectations for EITI supporting companies, including consideration of consequences for companies not meeting the Expectations. The companies’ constituency committed to participate fully in these efforts. EITI implementing countries also called for urgent action by the Board, to not only clarify and strengthen the company expectations, but also to ensure adequate sanctions in cases of non-compliance. This work will be undertaken promptly and submitted to the Board for decision at its October meeting.
The immediate complaint relating to the alleged activities of the EITI alternate Board member has been addressed according to the EITI’s established governance procedures, including its policy on voicing concerns. In addressing this concern, I have stressed to the Board the importance of all EITI Office Holders abiding by the EITI Code of Conduct, to ensure that their actions preserve and enhance public confidence in their integrity and the integrity of the EITI, and that their association with the EITI remains in good standing at all times.
The EITI Board has always operated by consensus. At its meeting on 30 June, it did not reach consensus on termination of the membership of the EITI alternate Board member who was the subject of the complaint. I therefore consider this complaint to be closed.
The EITI Board will, however, continue to address the concerns underlying this complaint. Companies, governments and civil society have worked together successfully to establish the EITI as a global benchmark for extractives transparency. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need for it to make further progress towards a transparent and accountable extractive sector. I look forward to continuing this task with the support of governments, companies across the sector and civil society.