This week the Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo has been attending a conference in Australia on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
But what does EITI mean for Solomon Islands?
It means that companies must publish what they pay and the government must publish what it receives.
Government must ensure accountability and good governance practices are observed in our mining industries.
About 3.5 billion people in the world live in resource rich countries but still many are not seeing positive results from the extraction of their natural resources.
Around the world corruption is flourishing in the mining sector, leading to weak national economies and lack of development.
Thus, the EITI aims to address this problem by increasing public information and empowering the public to more effectively hold government accountable for resource revenues.
Solomon Islands signed up to EITI in January 2012, now the government must start incorporating EITI into our laws.
Implementing the EITI will bring significant benefits to public financial management, improve the investment environment and manage the potential risk of conflict due to dissatisfaction over sharing of wealth between the Government and resource owners.
Under the EITI, the public can access to information on government earnings through tax and payment of royalties.
This means that the tax and the royalty payments are independently verified and reconciled by a Multi-stakeholder group that includes representatives from the government, mining industry and the civil society.
Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) currently sits on this important stakeholders group and would like to congratulate the government on its moves toward EITI.
It demonstrates dedication to building good relationships and trust with mining companies and involves civil society in the management of natural resources.
We believe that ensuring transparency and accountability is critical as the government moves towards increasing mining in our country.
Many parts of the country are now mapped out for mineral prospecting.
Growth of the mining industry is imminent and now, as the country is a member of the EITI, it is wise for the government to direct more resources to implementing civic awareness campaigns for resource owners about EITI and the possible danger and benefits that extractive industries could bring.
Parliamentarians must also play an active supporting role by creating and passing legislation that formalizes the EITI as law.
It is important that our legislators create laws to support the EITI but they must also look at other important industries such as timber and fisheries.
The timber and fisheries resources must be utilized in a sustainable and transparent manner that brings maximum benefit to the country.
The bottom line is that mining, forestry and fisheries must benefit all Solomon Islanders through tax revenue, through infrastructure development, through employment and through benefits to resource owners.
These industries must bring a better standard of living for our people and not simply take our country’s precious resources.
EITI is an important step, but there is much work still to be done.
We want to know what you think about the EITI. Call TSI on 28319, email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via our facebook page www.facebook.com/TransparencySI
To report corruption, bribery or abuse of public office, call ALAC on 20391 or drop by our office on first floor of the Stephen and Sons building in China Town, Honiara
Why EITI is important?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Transparency Solomon Islands and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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