In terms of impact of the EITI to date, civil society representatives had different views on whether the EITI had achieved any impacts. One civil society representative said that the government is learning to accept the principles of transparency and accountability, which was an achievement of the EITI, not least given that members of the government sometimes had business relations with companies. Another civil society representative said that she had identified conflicts of interest within her own organisation. The coming together of different stakeholders in the SIEINSG was also highlighted as an achievement, contributing to building trust and understanding and making voices heard. One civil society representative said that there was no impact yet. The CSOs also noted that the EITI has helped build their capacity, such that now, they are able to answer questions related to the mining sector when asked by their constituents.
Government representatives noted that the EITI had had an impact in starting to build trust amongst the three stakeholder groups. While requiring companies to disclose financial information was seen as a “no go” area, all stakeholders had built links through discussions of EITI documents such as the work plan and reporting templates. The SIEITI Secretariat noted that the main impact of the EITI had been that citizens were starting to understand the contribution of the mining industry to the national economy, when the popular notion had been that there was no contribution at all.
An industry member said that the EITI is relatively new in the Solomon Islands so not all people understand implementation. Even among industry members, there is very low level of appreciation of benefits from EITI implementation. However, they claimed that EITI better facilitates their engagement with landowners and that EITI has helped build trust among stakeholders. There is a perception that the EITI is an independent body that provides unbiased and reliable information, which industry wants to capitalise on. In view of this, they think that outreach to landowners should be prioritized. Industry representatives admitted that they have not solicited feedback from other industry members regarding EITI’s impact on SI.
In terms of achieving the objectives of the EITI, one industry representative commented that these are not yet fulfilled. In particular, increasing awareness about the EITI was challenging because most EITI activities are carried out in urban areas due to lack of funds. One representative, however, considers the objectives of implementation to have been fulfilled because the necessary information from companies is now disclosed. There is also a sentiment that SIEITI has been able to fulfil its objectives in terms of showing to the public what the industry does and how much it pays to government.
A representative from MMERE said that in the mining sector, the EITI has no effect or impact yet on regulations and governance. He mentioned that there needs to be better awareness and EITI needs to be embedded in legislation. He stated that limited people in the ministry know about the EITI apart from those who are actually involved in it. i.e., those that are responsible know.
Looking ahead, some suggested that the EITI could catalyse greater interest at the subnational level if they included information on expenditure information at the level of landowner groups and provincial governments. It was noted that companies would like to see more information on how landowner groups in particular used their revenues, given community criticisms of industry’s lack of social expenditures to such groups. Industry also suggested that the EITI could focus more on environmental aspects of mining, including supporting disclosure and explanation of Environmental Impact Assessments (which are statutorily required to be made public, although this is not the case in practice according to industry representatives consulted) and help address cases of double taxation.
Stakeholders outside of the SIEINSG recognize the potential of EITI to contribute to better sector governance especially in keeping discussions on transparency part of the government’s agenda and ensuring better access to information. They agree, however, that a lot of work still has to be done for the EITI to realize this potential. One stakeholder stated that some people see the EITI as the solution to issues in the extractive sector, specifically in empowering landowners to negotiate better deals with companies.
While it is clear that the EITI Reports produced by Solomon Islands have been useful in identifying gaps in government systems that need to be addressed, it can also be seen that minimal actions have been taken to utilize this information. Although they have submitted policy recommendations to MMRE there is no clarity how far they have gone in this process and specifically which policies do they want to pursue collectively. In terms of stimulating public debate, it appears that the outreach activities conducted by SIEISNG have been useful in informing the public regarding the revenues collected by government from companies. In this regard, it can be said that there is evidence of impact in terms of creating public awareness on how much the country benefits from its extractive sector. However, in terms of analysing data and making meaningful conclusions from these figures, there is not enough indicator to show how the EITI process in Solomon Islands has actually created impact.