EITI Fostering Regional Integration
By Diandra Grandison Project Officer, TTEITI Secretariat
Recently, many Caribbean countries have been assessing their hydrocarbon resources and have, with the assistance of foreign investors, spent or have ambitions to spend millions of dollars towards the exploration of oil and gas reserves in their respective countries. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation can assist these countries by providing guidelines o
n how to manage their hydrocarbon wealth and ensure transparency and accountability with regards to how these funds are spent in the interest of citizens.
With these countries being in the early stages of appraising their hydrocarbon resources, and Trinidad and Tobago being the leading hydrocarbon producer in the region, the TTEITI, the region’s EITI Champion, has been engaging in a series of capacity building workshops through funding provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (British High Commission) Prosperity Fund programme. Victor Hart, Chair of TTEITI Steering Committee, believes that ‘TTEITI’s outreach efforts in spreading the good news of the benefits to be derived from EITI implementation will not only spare other Caribbean countries from reinventing the wheel while pursuing the exploitation of their natural resources but also foster regional integration which is at the core of the Caricom movement.’
The workshops’ objective is to increase awareness of the benefits of EITI implementation in these countries that will enhance the country’s status, reputation and assist in boosting its investment climate including ease of doing business indicators. The workshop also provides a platform for tripartite cooperation, where members from civil society, government and extractive companies can discuss issues relating to the country’s patrimony.
The EITI is the global gold standard for natural resources revenue transparency for countries rich in oil, gas, minerals and other natural resources. The EITI’s mandate is to collect and disseminate independently verified information on revenue payments made to government from the companies operating in the country’s extractive sector (oil, gas, minerals, etc…), audit and reconcile with the government’s declared corresponding receipts, in an effort to promote greater revenue transparency and accountability for citizens.
The first phase of the TTEITI’s capacity building workshop in 2015 focused on one of the EITI’s mandate regarding transparency under the theme “Promoting Natural Resource Revenue Transparency in the Caribbean” and was held in Suriname, Guyana and Jamaica. Fast forward to 2017, Suriname, on May 24, became a member of the EITI with Guyana following a few months after in becoming a member on October 25.
The TTEITI’s outreach efforts were instrumental in these countries joining the now 52 member international body.
Motivated by this success, the TTEITI in September commenced phase two of its regional capacity building workshop, this time under the theme, “Promoting Best Practice in Natural Resources Management in the Caribbean”. The first workshop was held in Barbados on September 12, with topics discussing issues related to the challenges being faced in Barbados’ extractive sectors such as producing from mature oil fields and developing its hydrocarbon potential offshore along with minimizing the potential impact of offshore production on the country’s tourism product and sector.
Barbados’ Minister of Energy Senator the Honourable Darcy Boyce, while addressing the workshop, suggested that “a joint CARICOM working group to standardize issues related to licence and contract drafting, environmental regulation, local content provisions and other key energy issues” should be developed. The TTEITI intends to engage in dialogue with other regional stakeholders on those useful ideas.
Next month, the TTEITI will be continuing its outreach efforts in Jamaica, with another workshop scheduled to be held on December 14, followed by a closing symposium in Trinidad, to be held March 12, 2018.
The regional capacity building workshops, feature interactive presentations from CEO’s of energy companies, heads of non-governmental organizations and industry experts such as Energy Industry Expert, Professor Andrew Jupiter, Energy and Strategy Consultant, Gregory McGuire, and Senior State Counsel in Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Energy, Louise Poy Wing.
With the Caribbean being poised to become the next major hydrocarbon region, now is the right time for the dissemination and implementation of the EITI’s best practices so as to avoid economy crippling practices that have occurred in other natural resources rich regions.