Today the United States takes a key step towards implementing the EITI transparency standard. This first meeting of the USEITI Advisory Committee, is hosted by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior. It will take place at the US Department of the Interior in Washington DC, and is open to the public. Additional details are available at the US EITI website, and in the DOI's press announcement.
The Head of the EITI International Secretariat, Jonas Moberg, welcomed this key step towards implementing the EITI standard:
I commend the US government’s leadership in promoting transparency and openness, at home and abroad. By implementing the global EITI standard, the United States is leading by example and ensuring that government revenues from natural resources are managed better and more transparent. Transparency is necessary to rebuild trust in offshore activities, reduce corruption in transactions to the government, and establish certainty about whether companies are paying the taxes and royalties they should be paying.
A transcript of his address, submitted ahead of the meeting, is available below.
The Committee, which will act as the EITI multi-stakeholder group, is expected to agree a timeline for the US to formally submit an EITI candidature application in the second half of 2013. This would likely lead to the publication of the first EITI Report in 2014. The EITI standard requires disclosure of taxes, royalties and licence fees paid by oil, gas and mining companies to the government. These figures are independently compiled and reconciled in an annual EITI Report.
Jonas Moberg's address to the inaugural meeting of the United States EITI Advisory Committee Meeting
Thank you for the opportunity to address your inaugural meeting. This is an exciting step for the EITI in the United States, and an important development for the EITI internationally.
I commend the US government’s leadership in promoting transparency and openness, at home and abroad. I am in little doubt that implemented well, the EITI in the US can contribute towards improved natural resource governance. It can contribute to the rebuilding of trust in offshore activities, towards natural resource governance without corruption and with greater certainty about companies paying the taxes and royalties they should be paying. An added bonus for the rest of us is that you send a clear global leadership message, demonstrating a willingness to practice what you preach. This global message is particularly important if we are to work together with the world’s large growing economies on improved natural resource governance.
37 countries are implementing the EITI, and so you are joining a global community of multi-stakeholder groups that are working on these issues. Each country and indeed each stakeholder comes to the EITI with different objectives and expectations. The multi-stakeholder group’s function is to work openly and collaboratively to develop an EITI process that meets stakeholder’s demands for timely, comprehensive and reliable information. These groups are also charged with exploring opportunities to ensure that this information increases the quality of public debate. The interest around the world in what you are doing is considerable.
Along the way there are some key decisions that need to be taken: on how the MSG will function, the scope of the reporting, the government and private sector entities that should participate, defining materiality and agreeing how much detailed information should be disclosed. Each step will bring challenges, but international experience shows that none of these are insurmountable where stakeholders maintain a spirit of respectful and constructive dialogue.
As the EITI approaches its tenth birthday, the EITI Board is exploring changes to the EITI Standard that will reinforce the role of the multi-stakeholder group in overseeing EITI implementation. MSGs around the world are already developing innovative approaches to enhance transparency and accountability beyond revenue transparency. Our expectation is that the new EITI standard will further incentivise and recognise countries that seize the opportunities to ensure that their EITI process is fit for purpose and adds value.
The international EITI community looks forward to hearing more about how you plan to take the EITI forward. I hope your first meeting is success, and that the US will soon be in position to apply for EITI Candidate status. The EITI Board and International Secretariat stand ready to support your efforts.
Head of the EITI International Secretariat