Press Release: Stakeholders Join Together to Promote Natural Resources Revenue Transparency and Accountability at the TTEITI MOU Commitment Ceremony

Stakeholders Join Together to Promote Natural Resources Revenue Transparency and Accountability at the TTEITI Commitment Ceremony   

Press Release

On Thursday September 7 2017, the Government, leaders of extractive companies and of civil society organizations, joined to commit to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The signing of the MOU will commence the preparation of the latest EITI Report for fiscal year 2016. This reinforces the Government’s commitment to removing barriers to transparency and accountability of the country’s natural resources and highlights its willingness to collaborate with key stakeholders.

This fifth publication of the T&T EITI Report is the only place where citizens can get unbiased information on the reconciled energy tax and royalty payments made by energy companies and the Government’s receipts. The Report also provides an up-to-date picture of issues and developments in the oil, gas and mining sectors. This is critical because as the owners of T&T’s natural resources, citizens are entitled to have access to key information regarding the use of these resources so that they can meaningfully be involved in the decision-making process.

During this time of low commodity prices and low energy revenues, the EITI is even more relevant as the exercise of independently reconciling payments and receipts will highlight any revenue leakages in the sector. The last four published Reports shows that the TT$114 billion in revenue payments to Government from extractive companies closely matched Government’s declared corresponding receipts. A difference between payments and receipts of a total of $840 million was identified but this discrepancy has been independently audited and reconciled to the satisfaction of the Independent Auditor/ Administrator.

Having satisfied the objective of revenue transparency, the Trinidad and Tobago EITI Steering Committee plans to continue to audit payments and receipts for accuracy, but also focus on other mechanisms to support the core EITI objectives. According to the Chairman of the Steering Committee, Victor Hart, these include greater public engagement in the initiative, environmental reporting, reporting on the mining sector, beneficial ownership disclosure, as well as commodity trading transparency.

Importantly, all Governments of EITI implementing countries are required to remove barriers on information regarding natural resource revenues and improve its regulatory and institutional systems that govern the sectors. At the ceremony, the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan reinforced the Government’s commitment to the EITI and stated that the Government is considering the introducing EITI Legislation which will make reporting under the initiative mandatory. He said “The Draft EITI legislation and comments from industry stakeholders are currently under consideration.”