The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly salient in the extractive industries, many of which have been hard hit by plummeting demand and commodity prices, said Mark Robinson, Executive Director of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) International Secretariat.
Pledging to make 2021 a year to fight corruption, Robinson said in a message on Thursday that the transparency agenda has become more vital than ever.
“Governments and companies are undertaking monumental shifts in the way they manage natural resources and conduct business. Without transparency, corruption and mismanagement risk exacerbating the strain on resources that many citizens need or depend on.
“The pandemic has brought forward new challenges for the EITI. It has also underscored the urgency of our work, and the value of bringing everyone around the table to find common solutions in the face of adversity.
“Stepping into a new year, we will continue to embrace a resilient and responsive mindset as we forge ahead with important agendas such as contract and beneficial ownership transparency, the energy transition and anti-corruption,” he added.
Partners and supporters of EITI see the extractives sector as particularly prone to corruption. But transparency can be a powerful antidote, particularly when applied to the contracts and beneficial owners of extractive projects.
On International Anti-Corruption Day, EITI Board Chair Helen Clark outlined some of the ways EITI implementation can support the UN Sustainable Development Goals – specifically vis-à-vis corruption.
“Every corrupt deal that is struck reduces the resources available in the world’s poorest nations to meet their aspirations for sustainable development,” she said.
Separately, Transparency International called on the UN to commit to transparency in company ownership.
In its news bulletin on Thursday the EITI said that Ghana has made headway with extractive sector transparency. Following its third Validation, Ghana made meaningful progress in implementing the EITI Standard.
The extractive sector plays an important role in Ghana’s economy, having contributed nearly 14% of the country’s GDP in 2018. Ghana’s Multi-Stakeholder Group has used the EITI process to achieve broader extractive governance objectives, such as undertaking revenue forecasting, informing a gender policy in the sector and supporting local participation in natural resource management.
Ghana has also embraced the EITI’s multi-stakeholder approach, and the government has demonstrated leadership in facilitating inclusive dialogue.
There are opportunities to strengthen transparency of the social expenditures made by GNPC, Ghana’s national oil company.
In September, the government announced plans to develop a beneficial ownership registry, which will shed light on who owns and controls extractive companies in Ghana.