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EITI urged to toughen disclosure rules on natural resources

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 22 Feb 2013 10:51 GMT
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By Stella Dawson  

WASHINGTON (TrustLaw) – Civil society groups are pressing for more detailed disclosure of payments and corporate ownership structures in the global standard for extraction of natural resource wealth.  

These measures would make oil and mining industries more accountable and improve governance, the coalition said in a letter on Thursday to the U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening ahead of a meeting to toughen rules.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which sets a global standard on disclosing payments made for exploration and production of oil, gas and mining, will hold a board meeting next week to discuss updating its rules which would be launched at its May conference in Australia.

“This is a critical opportunity to deliver a stronger standard that will significantly improve EITI reports and enhance their effectiveness in generating extractive sector accountability and good governance,” the group said in its letter.

The letter, signed by Publish What You PayONETearfund, Global Witness and CAFOD, asks for the following improvements:

-  Require all EITI countries to disclose all contracts that govern oil, gas and mining exploration and production

-  Require all payment and receipt data to be broken down by project

-  Require disclosure of beneficial ownership in the register of licences and licence-holders 

-  Require “in-kind” revenue data to be reported in sufficient detail to evaluate the governance of production sales

-  Make the validation system for assessing whether countries meet EITI requirements independent, rigorous and consistent to ensure the credibility of the standard.

The board of the EITI, which brings together industry, civil society, investors and government officials to promote revenue transparency from natural resources, meets on Feb 26 and 27 in Oslo.   

Some 3.5 billion people live in resource-rich countries, yet poor governance leaves many citizens impoverished and vulnerable to conflict, and too often payments made by extractive industries do not turn up in government budgets.

In Afghanistan, for example, an EITI report in 2010 found a $1.5 million shortfall in the amount of money the government said it had received from companies.  

Eighteen countries have met its disclosure standards, including Iraq, Nigeria and Norway. Nineteen others are seeking to join the initiative.

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