Saturday, 23 December 2017

No extractive industries transparency report for 3 years

Adnan Adams Mohammed

Image result for GHEITI

Ghana’s inability to produce a local report on the extractive industry has put the country in the bad books of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (E.I.T.I).

The Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) has since 2014 not produced any report to help assess the transparency of the extractive industry.

This phenomenon is likely to put Ghana in the suspension books of the global benchmark for the transparent and accountable management of extractive resources such as mining and oil.

This  will cause lack of confidence by stakeholders in the extractive industry players and the government as well.

Despite this however Ghana has an excellent track record in the programme which has won  the country two international awards so far with most recent award in October this year.

The hint of suspension was disclosed last week during a familiarization visit by the Chairman of the EITI international board, former Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrick Reinfeldt.

In 2016, at the EITI Global Conference in Peru, Ghana was adjudged an exemplary country for using the EITI for wide ranging reforms in the mining, oil and gas sectors. There however appears to be some suspicion among the global EITI fraternity that Ghana’s commitment to transparency and the fight against corruption in the country’s extractive sector is waning.

Some stakeholders suspect the visit by the chairman of the EITI international board to Ghana was ostensibly to confirm the level of political commitment to the initiative, especially against the backdrop that reporting appears to have stalled.

“Suspension will be bad news for Ghana” said Dr Steve Manteaw. “It will dent Ghana’s international image and affects its goodwill among development partners. Above all it will affect investment attractiveness of the country” he adds.

But the Co-Chair of the Ghana EITI said the commitment of the government is not in doubt. He explained in an exclusive interview that, Ghana signed on to the initiative in 2003 under an NPP government, and even though the World Bank withheld funding from Ghana following disagreement over the country’s choice of EITI administrator, the government, through Dr Akoto Osei, then Deputy Finance Minister, went out of its way to find money outside the budget to finance Ghana’s first EITI report,

Dr Manteaw notes again that the factors that have contributed to the delay in reporting are purely financial and drawbacks associated with the country’s transitional process. Ghana, he disclosed, went through a similar lull in reporting in 2009 following the political transition of the time. “The problem is, our transitions are too often characterized by mistrust and a certain pre-occupation with sorting out the government’s finances before making any new financial commitments. These processes take time and affects the rollout of projects and programmes to which this country is already committed.

Section 1.6 (a) of the EITI Standard, dealing with reporting and validation deadlines provides as follows:

“The EITI requires timely publication of EITI Reports (Requirement 2). If the EITI report is not published by the required deadline, the country will be suspended.

The suspension will be lifted if the EITI Board is satisfied that the outstanding EITI report is published within six months of the deadline. If the outstanding reports are not published within six months of the deadline, the suspension will remain in force until the EITI Board is satisfied that the country has published an EITI report that covers data no older than the second to last complete accounting period (requirement 2).”

If the suspension is in effect for more than one year the, EITI Board will delist the country. As to how a country organises itself to ensure an uninterrupted reporting even in times of political transition that is something that implementing countries have to find ways of dealing with.

For now, however, it’s a race against time, as Ghana has to produce a report by close of year or face suspension.

The GHEITI secretariat at the Ministry of Finance has however indicated that Ghana has reasonable grounds to seek extension, as the World Bank, which had earlier pledged funds for the reporting failed to honour its side of the bargain late in the year, prompting government to quickly find the money to finance the reports from its own resources.

The Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG), a DFID support programme for the oil and gas sector has come to the government’s aid by offering to pay for the oil and gas component of the GHEITI reporting.

The EITI is premised on a theory of change which supposes that if citizens are provided with accurate and timely information on the extractive sector they will be empowered to demand accountability from duty-bearers and that will invariably lead to a more responsible and accountable management of the extractive sector.