Global transparency body also asks Guyana to submit 2021 report

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 February 2023, 0:14 by Denis Chabrol

The Norway-headquartered watchdog against corruption in Guyana’s oil and gas, mining and quarrying, forestry, and fisheries sectors has also asked Guyana to also submit its 2021 report, though the priority is the 2020 report,  so that the suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) could be lifted.

In a letter dated February 17, 2023, EITI Chairman Helen Clark told Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat that the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI) should also publish the 2021 EITI report by the outstanding deadline. “The EITI International Secretariat also encourages the publication of the 2021 EITI Report by the outstanding deadline,” she said.

She added that she was encouraging Guyana to continue making rapid progress on the production of its 2020 and 2021 EITI Report, “so that the suspension can be lifted soon.”  The International Secretariat also told Mr Bharrat that the EITI  it was “ready support you as needed in order to ensure the completion of these reports.”

She said the deadline for submission of the EITI Report for fiscal year 2020 remains December 31, 2022 because Guyana’s request dated December 1, 2022, was rejected. “The Board noted that the circumstances presented in this extension request are not exceptional and hence, decided not to grant the extension requested,” the EITI Chairman told the Minister of Natural Resources. Guyana had cited the COVID-19 pandemic, a severe flood that had prevented data gathering in the interior regions and bickering in the GYEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group over the Terms of Reference for the Independent Administrator, BDO UK, a United Kingdom-based international network of public accounting, tax and advisory firms- which compiled GYEITI’s previous reports..

Instead, Ms Clark indicated that Guyana now had a grace period of five months to submit its 2020 report. “The Board will review the status of suspension and consider lifting it if it is satisfied that the 2020 EITI Report is published within six months of the deadline, i.e., by 31 July 2023,” she said. President Irfaan Ali has publicly assured that the report would be submitted within that time-frame.

If the report is not submitted within the six months, the EITI Board Chairman said Guyana would remain suspended until the Board is satisfied that the country has published EITI data in keeping with the watchdog’s requirement. Ms Clark warned that Guyana would be removed from the EITI if the report is still not submitted after December 31, 2023. “If the suspension is in effect for more than one year, the EITI Standard requires the delisting of Guyana,” she said.

The Terms of Reference for the Independent Administrator were approved by a majority vote of the Multi-Stakeholder Group , with civil society representatives Mike Mc Cormack and Vanda Radzik abstaining.

A well-placed source said the duo had for four months blocked approval of the Terms of Reference unless the appointment of Dr Prem Misir as Coordinator of GYEITI was first discussed.  He replaced Dr Rudy Jadoopat who was the GYEITI’s first coordinator under whom the 2017, 2018 and 2019 GYEITI reports were submitted to EITI.

The EITI has said Guyana has achieved a fairly low overall score in implementing the 2019 EITI Standard. “Guyana has achieved a fairly low overall score in implementing the 2019 EITI Standard (52 points). The overall score reflects an average of the three component scores on Stakeholder engagement, Transparency and Outcomes and impact,” the organisation stated.