Civil society representatives from Guyana’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) multi-stakeholder group have stated that an absent coordinator has stymied their work. This comes after the government said there may have been deliberate attempts by members of the MSG to stymie the preparation of Guyana’s 2020 EITI report.
The report was due December 31, 2022 but was not submitted. Guyana was subsequently suspended.
Vanda Radzik and Mike McCormack, said that President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s public pronouncements following Guyana’s suspension by the Norway-based EITI appeared ill-informed. While the President blamed the MSG for a four-month delay in the finalisation of the terms of reference (TOR) for the preparation of the report, Radzik and McCormack explained that the national coordinator (NC), Dr. Prem Misir, was absent for the entire period.
They said before he disappeared, the NC (in August) requested the MSG to retroactively approve TOR for the report that he himself produced.
“The MSG unanimously declined to approve this request on the grounds that the content of the TOR was seriously defective and that its submission to the Ministry by the NC without allegedly the benefit of an MSG review, input and approval was a serious violation of the EITI Standard,” they said. “The Standard vests all authority pertaining to both content and process of the TOR in the MSG.”
Radzik and McCormack said the matter of the annual report was just the latest example of deficient performance from the NC, which they have been documenting in the minutes of MSG meetings. His absence reportedly left a crisis in the Secretariat, something which the MSG has had to work with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Joslyn McKenzie, to resolve.
As such, two senior civil servants were seconded from the Ministry and a work plan was devised for the production of the TOR for the 2020 report.
They said the MSG also concluded in December that it was no longer necessary for the co-chairs of the MSG to engage with the NC because McKenzie informed them that the NC post had been vacated. The civil society representatives agreed to conduct a performance evaluation of the NC. The NC reportedly reappeared and presented himself at a meeting in January.
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, informed the January meeting of the MSG that he had begun to negotiate directly with the EITI International Secretariat for an extension of the December 31 submission deadline for the report. Radzik and McCormack said however that any request for an extension must be made in advance of the deadline and must be endorsed by the MSG. EITI said on its website that Guyana is not eligible for an extension of the reporting deadline, and that it remains December 31, 2022.