By Winifred Hannah Koroma
NOVEMBER 21, 2014
Members of Secretariat of the Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative have paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission at his Gloucester Street office in Freetown.
The purpose of the visit was to update the Commission on the status of EITI implementation in the country and to explore avenues of partnership.
Speaking, Ag. National Coordinator, Mina Horace informed the ACC about the lifting of Sierra Leone’s suspension from the EITI process on 26th April 2014. Ms. Horace noted that their next challenge is to remain compliant while linking the EITI to other national reforms and international initiatives to ensure the initiative does not become a ‘stand alone’ process. She added that the EITI is leading the revolution in accountability and transparency in the extractive sector and contributing to improvement of the economy through enhanced revenue generation, reduction of corruption and improved public expenditure management.
She informed the ACC of the open-ended extension granted by the International Board due to the Ebola crisis, for the 2012 Reconciliation Report deadline, upon request from the Multi-Stakeholders Group. She revealed that the group has almost completed the process of recruiting an Independent Administrator to carry out this exercise. She called on the ACC team to come onboard and partner with SLEITI to move the EITI process forward.
Briefing the ACC on SLEITI’s communications strategy, Communications Officer Josephine Saidu-Konteh highlighted different tools used to disseminate information on the EITI, not least the use of IEC materials, jingles, town hall meetings, press releases, dispatches, comedy and the production of an EITI song which has gained international recognition.
Mrs. Saidu- Konteh disclosed that with the country now complaint, the secretariat would soon embark on massive engagement with youth, particularly senior secondary school pupils, who will function in Extractive School Clubs. This will give them the opportunity to grasp more knowledge and understanding, not only on the EITI process, but the entire natural resource sector, as they would participate in essay writing, quiz and debate competitions, she added.
In his remarks, ACC Commissioner Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara welcomed the SLEITI team to the Commission and congratulated SLEITI for attaining EITI Compliance and implored them to keep up the good work. Kamara told the SLEITI team that the work of the ACC is not only prosecutorial, as they are a good governance institution that is always ready to work with others who share the same vision to foster development and minimize corruption.
The ACC commissioner noted that the success of the EITI would translate into success for the whole country, thus the ACC is more than ready to partner with SLEITI to achieve that goal. He informed the SLEITI team that they had participated in some extractive industry activities in the past, adding that apart from providing advisory opinions based on the EITI Reconciliation reports, they have been working behind the scenes to addressing the high discrepancies in past reports, which have been a concern to them.
Mr. Kamara said that the ACC can complement government’s effort in implementing the EITI as they have the infrastructure to lend to SLEITI and that the latter can make use of their platforms on radio, television and group engagements to engage the public on EITI issues.
He disclosed that the ACC has been working on the draft SLEITI Bill and would provide their feedback to ensure SLEITI has an Act that would not be subjected to frequent amendments. The ACC Commissioner and Directors pledged their commitment to the EITI process and assured the SLEITI team of their continued support.
Meanwhile, a presentation of a copy on the new EITI Standard climaxed the meeting. EITI countries are now implementing the EITI in accordance with the New Standard adopted at the 2013 Global Conference in Sydney. The Standard, among other things, is now requesting countries to include contextual information into the reconciliation reports that covers the legal and fiscal regimes, contracts award and revenue management.