Guyana hopes for lifting of Extractive Industries Transparency suspension in three months

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2023, 20:25 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI) on Wednesday appeared set to give the International Administrator the green light to compile and submit a report on the forestry, oil and gas, mining and quarrying, and fisheries sectors to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which could see the lifting of the country’s suspension from that global anti-corruption watchdog, according to well-placed sources.

Guyana’s last EITI Country Report was for 2019.

Guyana was automatically suspended from EITI for failing to submit its report after a number of missed deadlines due to unacceptable reasons, but President Irfaan Ali hinted strongly that civil society members of GYEITI’s Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) blocked the approval of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Independent Administrator which is responsible for compiling the report. The Independent Administrator is BDO, a United Kingdom-based international network of public accounting, tax and advisory firms- which compiled GYEITI’s previous reports.  A source explained that the MSG’s procedure requires the Terms of Reference for the Independent Administrator to be approved before the compilation of each report.

“This begs the question: whether there are persons on that group with ulterior motive? It is not after four months that we were able to have the TOR agreed upon with two persons abstaining. This is unacceptable to put a country’s reporting framework at stake, to try to damage the government’s credibility is not being a good citizen,” he said.

Demerara Waves Online News was told that at the end of a three-stage process, which is aimed at forging consensus, the last tier of decision-making by a majority vote saw the approval of the TOR. Sources said ideally, the MSG process aims to get support from government, industry and civil society.

Demerara Waves understands that EITI’s International Board refused to approve an extension because the reasons that were given were not sufficiently valid. It is unclear what reasons were given to the Norway-based transparency watchdog, but President Irfaan Ali said Guyana’s reporting was obstructed by the COVID-19 pandemic and “extensive floods” in the hinterland that “obstructed data collection”.

President Ali said despite the delay in approving the TOR for the International Administrator, he was still optimistic that Guyana could complete its report by May, 2023. Sources said once that is done, EITI was likely to automatically lift Guyana’s suspension. “The work on completing the full report will be done expeditiously long in advance of the extended period that was approved by the EITI Secretariat,” he said.

Lamenting that the MSG held up the approval of the TOR for the International Administrator, Dr Ali suggested strongly that  government would take steps to prevent a repeat of such delays by the MSG, though he gave no details. “We are going to further strengthen the MSG to ensure that the credibility of Guyana, to ensure the work in relation to transparency and accountability of our natural resource sector is not affected by ulterior motive or design,” he said.

The President said his government would not tolerate delays in the presentations and the submission of our report in its quest to advance transparency and accountability. “One or two persons cannot drag an entire country and its credibility at stake. No!,” he said.

The gold mining sector has withdrawn from the GYEITI process.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration has often times criticised civil society for criticising government’s actions, saying that no one has voted for them.

EITI admitted Guyana as an EITI candidate country on 25 October 2017.