Tuesday, 31 March 2015

GHEITI Bill to be laid before parliament this year



A bill to institutionalize the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) is expected to be laid before parliament this year.

The Initiative is a global coalition of governments, extractive companies and civil society working together to improve accountability in the management of natural resources.

Data collection for the Ghana EITI is currently voluntary for interest parties, including government agencies and firms operating in the extractive industry.

The Natural Resource Sector Transparency and Accountability Bill, 2014 seeks to provide the legal framework to enhance transparency and accountability in relation to governance of the natural resource sector of the economy.

National Coordinator of the Ghana EITI, Franklin Ashiadey, observed the Initiative has been instrumental in most reforms in the extractives sector - including the review of the minerals royalty from three to five percent, review of the corporate tax and capital allowances.

"For the fact that companies are now willing to disclose information to the general public, for Ghanaians to know how much companies are paying to government alone is enough to ensure some transparency in their operations," he stated.

The GHEITI was introduced over a decade ago with a narrow focus on revenue transparency. This has been broadened to provide accountability and transparency along the entire extractive value chain - from the award of licenses and contracts through to regulation, collection of taxes, distribution and use of revenues to support sustainable development.

Legal Consultant on the Bill, Tuinese Amuzu, describes the legal instrument as a good governance and accountability tool. He explains the general context is to ensure natural resource extraction benefits the people.

The Bill also provide platform for the effective implementation of the EITI Standards and other measures aimed at good natural resource governance, whilst empowering the general public to demand accountability and transparency in the development outcomes from benefits from payments made by mining firms to government.

Mr. Ashiadey says giving legal backing to the Ghana EITI process will help address some of the challenges faced by the Initiative.

He is hopeful Bill, currently going through stages of consultation with interest groups, should go through parliament before end of year.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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