Following Guyana’s suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali stated publicly that his government will expose the persons responsible for the delay in the preparation of the country’s fourth EITI report for the year 2020.
The government had hired an independent administrator to complete the report, Ali said, but that the local EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG) took four months to finalise the administrator’s terms of reference. The MSG is constituted by representatives from government, industry and civil society. Ali wondered whether persons on the MSG have ulterior motives, perhaps, to make a jab at the country’s credibility.
“One or two persons cannot drag an entire country and its credibility at stake. No one,” Ali said. “I made it very clear to the [EITI] Secretariat that this will not reoccur in the future, and that persons will be exposed and held accountable.”
He said he is pleased that the TOR has been fully approved, and now, the work to complete the report will be executed expeditiously, long in advance of an extension deadline which has been granted to Guyana.
“Suspended for missing deadline” is stated on Guyana’s profile, on the website of the Norway-based EITI. Membership with this body is a sign that a country has committed to working toward systematic disclosures of vital extractives data, in keeping with the group’s internationally accepted best practices. Investors look to the EITI to let them know that the countries they are looking to invest in, conduct business with respect to natural resources, in a manner above board. So, to some, suspension would appear to be an indictment of the governing administration’s record on transparency and accountability. But Ali said his government does not tolerate any affront to transparency and accountability in Guyana’s natural resources sector.
The President said he has made it clear that despite unavoidable events like the pandemic and recent catastrophic floods in Guyana, the government finds the delay in the submission of the report unacceptable. He noted however that the Secretariat has given Guyana up to May 2023 to submit the 2020 report. From where the government stands, the suspension is temporary, pending submission.
Guyana joined the EITI in 2017, two years after a major discovery of oil was made by ExxonMobil offshore Guyana. The country’s proven petroleum reserves have now been increased to 11 billion barrels.