Journalists drilled on EITI
By Chiku Jere
Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MWEITI) organised a day-long workshop where journalists from various media houses were enlightened on Extractive Industries Transparency (EITI), a global standard for governance of a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources that enhances transparency and accountability in natural resources management.
Speaking during the opening of the Media Orientation on EITI workshop which took place on October 20, 2016, at Victoria Hotel in Blantyre, MWEITI National Coordinator, George Harawa, who is also Assistant Director (Revenue) in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development (MoF), said one way of opening up to the happenings in the mining sector to the public is through the media.
So members of MWEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), who are implementers of the EITI in Malawi, thought it wise to recognise and appreciate a pivotal role that the media plays in informing the society and we believe your involvement in EITI will ensure success on this EITI journey,
Implementation of EITI standard is done by governments in collaboration with companies and civil society hence the subsequent formation of MSG comprising four government institutions, four mining companies and four civil society organisations.
The MSG has since developed a work plan for the first two years of implementing the EITI and is overseeing activities with support of the recently established MWEITI Secretariat, housed in the Revenue Policy Division of the MoF.
MWEITI National Technical Expert David Nungu noted that since the initiative boarders on ensuring transparency and accountability, the media is an automatic stakeholder partner.
The media is regarded as the watchdog of whatever is happening in our society, both public and private, and by being part and parcel of the EITI monitoring team, it will just be playing its core duty,
On June 15, 2014, the President of Malawi, Arthur Peter Mutharika, made a declaration to join the EITI in his inaugural address to the national assembly following the tripartite elections, pledging the country’s adherence to transparency in the mining sector.
Commitment to this global transparency initiative implies that Malawi has subscribed to the idea on the need to promote improved data and dialogue in natural resources governance.
The EITI Board admitted Malawi as an EITI candidate country on October 22, 2015 and in accordance with the EITI Standard, Malawi is required to publish its first EITI Report within 18 months of becoming a candidate, i.e. by April 22, 2017.
The report should contain contextual information on the extractives sector in Malawi and data on revenues, licences, production, exports and contribution to the economy.
The document will have to include companies’ published payments and government receipts.
The country is then evaluated independently, and if deemed to have met the EITI requirements for transparency, becomes ‘compliant’. From then on, countries are assessed every three years and can be suspended from the transparency standard at any time.
This is used as a tool to improve extractive sector governance by identifying challenges and weaknesses, and defining priorities for natural resource management through reformatory dialogue.
Reports indicate that implementation of EITI by other countries has led to a wide range of benefits such as improved tax collection and budgetary planning as well as improved governance systems which enhances citizens’ trust in government.
A country can as well use EITI adherence record to improve its borrowing credibility from financial institutions since most of them use good governance of transparency and accountability as a yard stick for loan approval.
It is also said that adherence to EITI Standard levels the playing field as all companies are required to disclose the same information hence operating on same rules.
Through the initiative, companies benefit from improved and more stable investment climate which is ushered in through open and effective engagements with the citizens and civil society.
Compliance to the initiative also benefits citizens as they receive reliable information about their country’s natural resources which enables them to hold the government and companies to account.
During the workshop, private sector and government experts made several presentations which, among them, included: An Overview of EITI and MWEITI, An Overview of the EITI Transparency Reporting Framework as well as Sustainable Development, Mining and EITI.
Equally important presentations were also made on ‘EITI-Perspective of the Private Sector’, ‘Current Overview of the Mineral Rights Management System’, ‘Mining and Revenue Management’, ‘Mineral Exploration and Deposits, Licensing Process and Mining Cadastre’ as well as ‘Communicating MWEITI’.
The workshop went on to define the role of the media vis-à-vis EITI and emphasis was made on the need for members of press to be partners in responsible reporting as they discharge their duty of promoting transparency and accountability on extractive industries revenue reconciliation.
The press was also urged to effectively inform the public as regards effect of Government policy on fiscal and revenue management from extractive industries.
Responsible environmental journalism for extractive industries was also a major point of reference let alone the linkages of mining with local content and economic development.
Meanwhile, government of Malawi has put the EITI Standard implementation as part of the on-going Public Service Reforms programme.
The piece “Journalists drilled on Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative” featured above was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 43 that is circulating this November 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
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