The Solomon Islands Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (SIEITI) is pushing hard for transparency and accountability around the revenue collected from the mining industries in the country.
The Government supported Initiative which is funded by the World Bank has started in 2012. In June 2014, It had released an independent reports on the revenue collected from the mining industries in the Solomon Islands for 2012 and 2013 and is continues to ensuring Extractive Industries, Civil Societies and the Government support each other for transparency.
The 2012 and 2013 report reconcile various payments mining companies paid to the government and which government ministries and agencies authorize those payments or received the money. This includes payments for licences, royalties, fees and others.
If you are interested to read the report, you may visit the Initiatives webpage at: http://www.mof.gov.sb/ReportsNew/ExtractiveIndustriesTransparencyInitiative.aspx
But what is EITI and how does it works? EITI as explained by Mr. Rockson Orelly, Head of the National Secretariat-SI-EITI is a process where companies publicly declare what they have paid and government publicly declare what they received and in the middle is an independent party to reconcile the payments.
Mr Orelly explains that EITI is global reporting standard for revenue collected from Extractive Industries. The standard is based on a simple but powerful concept that ensures the money mining companies say they have paid to the government, is actually equal to the money the government says it has received from them.
He said SI-EITI is governed by a multi-stakeholder working group known as Solomon Islands Extractive Industries National Stakeholder Group (SIEINSG). SIEINSG consists of representatives from Extractive Industries basically the current mining companies operating in the country, Government and Civil Society Groups.
SIEINSG is the body oversee and coordinate the implementation of the global EITI standard in the Solomon Islands. The SIEING work include but is not limited to the following- to promote revenue transparency and accountability in the extractive sector in Solomon Islands through implementing SI-EITI in line with the global EITI standards; and to provide a forum for dialogue, debate, and consensus on issues relating to the extractive sector in the Solomon Islands.
On the other hand, the daily functions of the EITI is carried out by the SI-EITI National Secretariat Office which consist of the Executive Director, National Coordinator, Communication and Secretary Analyst and Procurement Analyst. The team is operating out from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT).
The SIEITI National Secretariat office provide coordination and administrative support for the SIEING that executes EITI implementation in Solomon Islands.
Update of EITI in Solomon Islands
SI is the first Pacific Island country to produce an EITI report. This report has awaiting International Secretariat Board approval. The first Activity Report was published and National Secretariat staff fully recruited.
The immediate next steps is to finalizing a work plan for July 2014- June 2015 to promote transparency in mining sector. Some high lights in the work plan includes- Supplementary Reconciliation Report for 2012 and 2013, launching and dissemination of 2012 and 2013 EITI Report, creation of SI-EITI Website and increase in Multi-Stakeholder Group membership.
Benefit of EITI to Solomon Islands
The EITI will ensure a new and systematic way of working together between the Government, Extractive Industries (EI) and Civil Societies Group to promote transparency and accountability in the Extractive Industries Sector of Solomon Islands
It strive to empower the public by making public information on revenues companies extracting our mining resources paid to government. The mining industry of the Solomon Islands is currently at an early stage of development but has the potential to become the single largest component of income in the future, contributing to government finances and foreign exchange earnings.
The EITI can be used to identify gaps and weaknesses in sector management and a platform for dialogue and can help reduce conflict by improving transparency of payments.
Similarly, EITI can help learn from mistakes in managing other natural resources. Mining can be managed sustainably to build Solomon Islands’ economy and deliver a fair share of revenue from this resource.
Background of EITI in Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands started the process of joining EITI in June 2011 when Cabinet considered and approved the EITI framework. The former Minister of Finance (now Prime Minister) then also in 2011 announced the government’s intention to implement EITI in Honiara and again during the EITI workshop in Dili.
In January 2012, the Solomon Islands Extractive Industry National Stakeholder Group (SIEINSG) was formed. The parties signed the Memorandum of Understanding, put together a work plan and submitted its application to the EITI Board. In June 2012, Solomon Islands became a candidate. With the support of the World Bank, the country continues to implement the requirements for EITI compliance.