Prime Minister, Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo will give a key note address at the 6th Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Global Conference, in Sydney, Australia this week.
Speakers at the conference address the evolution of the EITI, now a firmly established global standard in extractive industry revenue transparency. Solomon Islands is the first country in Oceana to become an EITI candidate country of 37 countries implementing the standard globally.
Speaking Tuesday, on his departure to Sydney Mr. Lilo said, the government will make sure Solomon Islands become a compliant country of EITI.
“Implementing EITI in the Solomon Islands is very important. As our main source of revenue, output from our forestry sector is expected to decline in the coming years. So a decision has been taken to focus on developing the vast potential of our mining sector as the future engine of growth in the economy. Establishing the consultative, consensus building, and transparency enhancing mechanisms common to EITI, will help reduce the risk of conflict and repeating the legacy of the forestry sector”.
Signing on to the EITI runs in parallel to initiatives taken to modernize the mining sector in collaboration with the World Bank. The government is currently in discussion with the World Bank to provide ongoing support to update the mining law and regulatory framework for the sector to promote the development of an industry that is environmentally and socially responsible.
The EITI 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. While the initiative is led by the government all decisions are made in active and meaningful partnership with civil society and industry representatives. These representatives work together in the Solomon Islands Extractive Industry National Stakeholder Group (SIEINSG). Key members of this group are also attending the EITI conference in Sydney.
Mr. Lilo continues, “From experience, natural resource extraction as we have seen with logging can be a potential source of conflict, and in order to avoid a repeat of conflict related to resource extraction and benefit sharing, government will do all it can to support everybody that is involved in developing the mining sector.
The 6th EITI global conference will focus on how transparency and the EITI is leading to change in the 37 implementing countries, as well as agreeing to a revised version of EITI Standards to ensure greater transparency in the years ahead. This will include changes aimed at improved implementation and reporting processes.
The conference theme is ‘Beyond Transparency’ as some of these changes will include new reporting requirements including greater detail in reporting revenue streams, local level reporting, and industry social expenditures. It brings together delegates and officials from academic institutions, the mining industry, private sector, international development organizations, and governments from almost 100 countries.
Solomon Islands has been allocated a booth at the conference venue where officials from the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, the Office of the Prime Minister, and members of SIEINSG will showcase the work of EITI to date in Solomon Islands. A 10 minute video featuring the history of mining exploration, current mineral prospecting activities, and the hopes for a growing and vibrant industry, and why EITI is important to Solomon Islands will be screened at the booth.
Other Solomon Island’s delegates to the EITI conference include the Minister for Mines Energy and Rural Electrification Hon. Moses Garu and officials from the Ministry, officials from the Office of Prime Minister, as well as the Premier for Guadalcanal Province, Hon. Stephen Panga.