ATI Bill delay to affect EITI implementation - Mining & Trade Review (April 2016)

The piece “ATI Bill delay to affect EITI implementation” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 36 that is circulating this April 2016.

The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.

2016-04 Mining & Trade Review Villumstad, Mwangonde and Kabwila

ATI Bill delay to affect EITI implementation

By Chiku Jere

Stakeholders in the mining sector have expressed concern over the delay in passing the Access to Information Bill (ATI) fearing this will affect the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

EITI is a global standard for the governance of a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources, which is supposed to be implemented by governments, in collaboration with companies and civil society.

The initiative involves government’s disclosure of information on tax payments, licences, contracts, production and other key elements around resource extraction in order to improve and encourage the debate about the management and use of a country’s natural resources.

Speaking recently during the Alternative Mining Indaba organized by a grouping of civil society organisations namely Norwegian Church Aid, Citizens for Justice and Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy with funding from  Tilitonse Fund’s Tonse Tipindule Project held at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe from February 2 to 3, 2016, Norwegian Church Aid Country Director Stain Villumstad observed that  effective implementation of EITI depends on the free state of information flow in a country.

He, therefore, said in the case of Malawi, successful EITI implementation will depend on the authorities’ commitment to transparency hence the passing of ATI Bill into law will play a major role in this regard.

There has to be transparency and accountability in order to drive change towards social responsibility and this can only be attained if there is access to information and this is why the passing of this ATI Bill is important,

said Villumstad.

He said the enacting of the free access to information law will also encourage non-governmental organizations to take a major role in the mining sector as there will be room for people to know what is happening through the civil society working hand in hand with the communities.

Citizens for Justice Executive Director, Reinford Mwangonde, said that there are some expected roles of civil society in the mining sector that would be achieved if access to information was to be guaranteed through legislation.

In our own take as the civil society, it could have been better if the much touted commitment to EITI candidacy was to go together with the enacting of the Access to Information Bill, as such could have warranted a clear picture that there will be transparency in mining activity dealings which will enhance accountability,

said Mwangonde.

EITI issue was also linked to ATI Bill by a parliamentarian Jessie Kabwila who said the two are complementary.

You are pampering government for showing commitment to the EITI but you forget that without the free access to information, the transparency issue will not work,

said Kabwila.

By signing to EITI, a particular country signals commitment to the transparent and accountable management of the country’s natural resources, which, in the process, enhances citizens’ trust in government.

On the other hand, investors are compelled to disclose their source of capital, proceeds and who is benefitting from the profits gained from the minerals of a particular EITI candidate country.

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