Ghana’s Finance Minister Dr Kwabena Duffuor on Friday said government was keen to see the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) passed into law to complement existing legislations to boost transparency and accountability in the natural resource sector.
Speaking at a meeting with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy and selected cabinet ministers on the Draft EITI Bill, Dr Duffuor said legislation of the initiative would ease the challenges of accessing receipts and payments data and other critical information from extractive companies and government agencies.
The primary purpose of the Draft EITI Bill is to provide the legal framework to enhance transparency and accountability in relation to receipts and payments in the natural resources sector.
The draft Bill also expands the scope of the current EITI to cover the entire natural resources sector that is minerals, petroleum, forestry and fisheries.
Ghana signed on to implement the EITI in the mining sector in 2003 in the bid to improve the management of revenues in the sector for long-term economic growth for sustainable development and poverty reduction.
The initiative, which seeks full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues in the mining sector, has since been extended to the oil and gas sector as well.
Dr Duffuor said while the EITI could deliver many benefits as a stand-alone initiative, stakeholders were of the opinion that it would work better when there was a long term strategy such as its passage in to law for mainstreaming it to improve governance of extractive industries.
The minister said the Bill also made provision for the disclosure of the contents of extractive industry contracts negotiated and concluded between companies and government to the public.
“Contract transparency is essential not only for the purpose of tracking revenue streams but also for ensuring the sustainable exploitation of natural resources,” Dr Duffuor said, adding that the EITI law will complement and strengthen the transparency and accountability provisions in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.
Dr Steve Manteaw, Vice Chairman of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, said the EITI had helped provide an independent evaluation and assessment of revenue management in the sector and complement government efforts at strengthening institutions.