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Help push Natural Resource Governance Bill

By: By Ama Amankwah Baafi
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The Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), Dr Steve Manteaw, has called for a deeper collaboration among institutions and relevant stakeholders to drive the passage of the Natural Resource Governance Bill (NRGB).

He said discussions were ongoing on the bill which was part of the mainstreaming effort to ensure transparency and accountability in the mining, oil and gas sectors.

“The bill will require the systematic disclosure of extractive sector information so that we don’t wait for EITI to disclose,” he said at the launch of the (GHEITI) reports for mining and oil/gas sectors, 2017-2018, in Accra on March 11, 2020.

He said although the new EITI standards presented another challenge, it provided an immensely rewarding opportunity for countries including Ghana to ensure a more and proper efficient management of her natural resources.

The EITI, he said, was intended to address issues of under development, conflict and deprivation in natural resource-dependent countries, most of whom found themselves in conflict areas such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, among others. 

“All we are doing now through the reports is to give the citizens information on the management of their oil and mining sectors and hope that they will use that to demand accountability policy and practice change,” he said. 

 

      "The Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) was established to improve transparency and accountability and to bring coordination to an extractive sector perceived as secretive, corrupt and damaging to the environment, despite its significant economic contribution"


-          GHEITI  has ultimately, increased the amount of extractive revenues data available to Ghanaians and contributed to and inspired national policy and legislative reforms.

Some of the EITI changes
Among the most significant changes include contract transparency, state participation and commodity trading, environment reporting and gender. 

Dr Manteaw noted that on the natural resource balance sheet, citizens only got to know how much revenue had been generated by the extractive sector in a particular year, but would not know how much it had cost the country to generate those revenues in terms of damage to the environment and livelihoods.

“We don’t quantify that. We externalise those costs. With the introduction of environmental reporting, the EITI will have to begin to account for and disclose environmental related information, in terms of quantifying the environmental cost of mining and oil extraction,” he said.

At the same time, he said, provisions that remained part of the EITI requirements and were still encouraged included licensing, production and exports, data timelines and follow ups on EITI findings.

“Countries that were previously suspended for not making enough progress under the new standards will no more be suspended if they fail to achieve satisfactory progress.
“Instead, they will be encouraged and supported to up their game,” he stated.

Leveraging new requirements
Dr Manteaw said the systematic disclosure would provide all stakeholders with an opportunity for timely, reliable and accessible information in an open data format.

“So, really for researchers, policy advocates you are able to access timely information to advance your advocacy positions,” he said.

Contract transparency, he stated, would also offer an opportunity to reform the whole allocation process and to ensure that better contracts were negotiated to enable countries to get the best from natural resources for development.

“For Ghana, the Exploration and Production Act, the Petroleum register, the review of the Minerals and Mining Act and the mining cadastre provides an opportunity to leverage on,” he cited.

He added that improved and timely state-owned enterprise disclosures was an opportunity to improve transparency, accountability and good corporate governance in the management of the country’s natural resources on behalf of the state in areas such as clarified quasi fiscal expenditure.

Open forum
A Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Fiscal Policy (IFP), Dr Said Boakye, said transparency should be a two-way affair but not a one way one.

He said there were two parties involved - the government and the extractive industries, yet there was so much transparency on government’s side as to how much it was receiving but the companies were not declaring.

“EITI seems to be silent about how much the companies are making. If we want to be transparent, it has to be throughout and not a one-way affair 

The Executive Director of the Centre for Extractives and Development Africa (CEDA), Mr Emmanuel Kuyole, suggested that beyond the main EITI reports, it should do some additional research and publication on critical issues such as the quasi fiscal expenditure for public discussion and policy implementation.