Natural Resources Minister signals legislation for EITI compliance

first_imgAmid concerns shared by some extractive companies about the release of their contracts to the public, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has stated that Government would craft a legislative framework if necessary to mandate compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).Addressing media operatives on Friday, Trotman stated that the EITI procedure was currently voluntary, which enabled companies to determine whether or not their data should be released.“The solution is publication. It’s a process. It takes time. I believe that if necessary, we would have to enact laws to ensure compliance,” said the Minister.The EITI is a global standard to promote accountable management of oil, gas, and mineral resources. Guyana just submitted its first EITI report and out of nine companies identified to participate, only seven complied. However, Trotman is positive that it was just an ‘opting out’ situation.“The EITI process is a voluntary one. I believe that scoring seven out of nine on the first go is an excellent score to achieve. I believe that for reasons best known to the companies, they chose not to participate. We didn’t get a sense that it was a refusal, rather an opting out at this moment,” he explained.He reminded that there were confidentiality clauses in agreements, which prohibit Government from sharing information from these companies. As part of the EITI, all contracts from the oil and mineral resources sectors must be publicised to ensure transparency.“The report noted that the law regarding confidentiality agreements needs to be addressed …We have had some concerns raised by mining companies … The laws themselves might not speak to confidentiality, but the agreements have clauses embedded in them that are very strict in some cases about confidentiality. The agreement is also a legally-binding document and, in a sense, is therefore law,” said the Minister.According to Trotman, the report showed some gaps on the part of Government and attention was now being focused on fixing these anomalies.“In as much as this report points to what is happening in the extractive sector, it also points to … Government and identify some gaps and omissions on our part, in so far as how we can and should be working together to fill those gaps … Government has to move with greater expediency in implementing this decision for collaboration. As we take advantage of the technology that is available, we will see greater collaboration,” he said.It was reported just a few days ago on Wednesday that total revenues from the sector in the 2017 fiscal year amounted to $20.8 billion.The Guyana Gold Board (GGB), to which gold declarations are made, accounted for 33 per cent of this revenue, followed by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) with 32 per cent and the Finance Ministry, 18 per cent.Gold and other minerals contributed $17.4 billion or 84 per cent of revenue from the extractive industries. On the other hand, oil and gas contributed $2.8 billion or 14 per cent. Bauxite, one of Guyana’s oldest industries, contributed $479 million or two per cent.The extractive sector’s contribution to exports has a dollar value of 193.2 billion. Besides the sector’s contribution to exports, it contributed 9.3 per cent to total Government revenues and 4.2 per cent to Guyana’s total employment. Its contribution to Guyana’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 20 per cent.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotmanlast_img

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