April 18, 2019
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Sierra Leone Extractive Industries, Transparency Initiative (SLEITI), yesterday (Wednesday April 17th) engaged stakeholders in the Western Rural District on their nationwide sensitization and dissemination of the 2015 and 2016 EITI reports.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard that promotes transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors.
However, guided by the belief that a country’s natural resources belong to its citizens, the EITI established a global standard to promote open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.
The EITI standard requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain on how extraction rights are awarded and revenues generated through the government and how it benefits the public.
Speaking at the Waterloo Rural District Council Conference Hall,National Coordinator for SSLEITI, Mina Horace, said the EITI is the global standard for transparency and accountability, noting that countries across the world that have minerals like diamond, gold iron ore, bauxite and others are free to join the EITI, whose aim is to see the citizens of those countries benefit from their minerals.
She said Sierra Leone has been part of the initiative for thirteen years now and that the current government has decided that the initiative should continue with their full support for the betterment of the country.
She added that in countries where minerals are mined, the expectation of the citizens is always high, in terms of job and cash flow.
She further stated that the citizens also expect government to generate funds from the taxes paid, thus noting that they have completed and published their 2015 and 2016 report, which would aid citizens with some information on the mining sector.
She disclosed that they were working on the 2017 and 2018 report, and that they were going to make the information available to the citizens to help them analyse and make conclusion as to whether the country was benefiting from natural resources, and the position of the country with regards the implementation of its laws in the mining communities.
The National Coordinator said the EITI is a very good initiative as it gives information to people and empower them to contribute to what was happening in the mining sector and ensure that the sector’s work progress smoothly.
She said the meeting was to dialogue with the people with the motive of getting their views about the sector.
She said some of the major issues raised in the engagement meeting were that Sierra Leoneans were not being employed by mining companies, adding that the companies have cited the lack of qualification as justification for their act.
She said government and the educational systems were now working to see that they improve the qualification level of Sierra Leoneans, especially in the oil and gas industry so that they will be able to meet the qualifications of mining companies that will be operating in that sector.
She said a number of people were also raising concern that they were not much concern about money, but the environmental damage to the communities and others were of more concern.
She said the EITI reports were of advantage because it’s one tool that government was using to fight against corruption in the mining sector, noting that before the EITI, it was very difficult to get information about the mining sector.
Horace stated that it is now easy to access information on the mining sector through the website of the National Mineral Agency.
Speaking earlier, Finance Officer of the Western Rural District Council, Amadu Barrie, welcomed the SLEITI entourage, and acknowledged the importance in making the report available to the people for their views and contributions.
Talking about the purpose of the meeting, Annie Lansana, said the EITI standard dilates about the companies that were mining in the country and how their mining activities were benefiting the people.
She said very soon, the EITI would delve into fishery, noting that the meeting was meant for people to comment on the report, because it was by requirement that they must take the report to the people.
She said the EITI requirement encourages the participation of all, including government officials, the civil society, mining operators, security sector and even children, so that when they grow up they will know how the natural resources benefited the country.
The EITI Board had in February 2013 agreed that the EITI should, in the future, require disclosure of the ultimate beneficial ownership of oil, gas and mining companies operating in implementing countries.
However, with the adoption of the 2016 EITI Standard (Requirement 2.5), the EITI Board has agreed that by 1st January, 2020, all implementing countries must ensure that corporate entities disclose the identity of their beneficial owners.
In addition, any politically exposed persons who are beneficial owners must be identified and it was recommended that the beneficial ownership information is made available through public registers.