After a brilliant start, and with two international awards up its sleeves, one as recently as in October 2017, Ghana is now facing imminent suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
According to a source close to the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) , which serves as the governing body of the Ghana EITI, the risk of suspension was disclosed last week during a familiarization visit by the Chair of the EITI international board, former Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrick Reinfeldt.
The threat, the source indicated arises out of the country’s inability to produce a report since 2014.
The EITI, a global benchmark for the transparent and accountable management of extractive resources, was launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ghana was among the initial wave of countries that acceded to the initiative, having signed on in 2003.
Having started with a narrow focus on extractive revenues, the initiative has evolved to now cover other links in the extractive industries value chain such as contract transparency, and Beneficial Ownership disclosure, since 2013. In 2010 Ghana went through an international validation and was adjudged EITI compliant. In 2016, at the EITI Global Conference in Peru, Ghana was adjudged an exemplary country for using the EITI for wide ranging reforms in the mining, oil and gas sectors.
However, there appears to be some suspicion among the global EITI fraternity that Ghana’s commitment to transparency and the fight against corruption in the country’s extractive sector is waning under the current administration. Some stakeholders, including civil society, suspect that the visit by the chair of the EITI international board to Ghana last week was ostensibly to confirm the level of political
commitment to the initiative, especially against the backdrop that reporting appears to have stalled.
“Suspension will be bad news for Ghana” says Co-Chair of the Ghana EITI Dr Steve Manteaw.
“It will dent Ghana’s international image and affect its goodwill among development partners. Above all, it will affect the investment attractiveness of the country” he adds.
Government’s commitment not in doubt
Dr Manteaw however said the commitment of government is not in doubt. He explained that, Ghana signed on to the initiative in 2003 under a New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, and even though the World Bank had withheld funding from Ghana following disagreement over the country’s choice of EITI administrator, the government, through Dr Akoto Osei, then Deputy Finance Minister, went out of its way to find money outside the budget to finance Ghana’s first EITI report,
Dr Manteaw noted again that the factors that have contributed to the delay in reporting are purely financial and drawbacks associated with the country’s transitional process.
Ghana, he disclosed, went through a similar lull in reporting in 2009 following the political transition at that time.
“The problem is, our transitions are too often characterized by mistrust and a certain pre-occupation with sorting out the government’s finances before making any new financial commitments. These processes take time and affect the rollout of projects and programmes to which this country is already committed, he stated.