LETTER: MSG-Civic vote to abstain on the TOR issue was consistent with the position communicated to the Minister - KN Feb 27, 2023
The following is an Open Letter to the President of Guyana sent electronically and as printed letter.
We are writing this Open Letter on behalf of the Civic component of the Multi-Stakeholder Group in order to set the record straight concerning Guyana’s suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Judging from the opinions attributed to you in the press concerning developments in the GYEITI), it seems that you are badly advised both about the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) rules and procedures for producing Terms of Reference (TOR) for the EITI Report and also about what prompted our vote to abstain on the TOR at the MSG meeting of February 22nd 2023.
The Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) is comprised of three actors: Civil Society, Industry (extractive industry companies) and Government, with each sector selecting its own members. The MSG, by its own decision, operates on a voluntary basis. The MSG always seeks consensus in decision-making and has resorted to a vote only on two occasions in seven years.
For the benefit of yourself and for the larger civic community we represent on the GYEITI-MSG, we outline in summary below the more salient factors surrounding the current situation. We also encourage anyone wishing to understand the EITI in greater detail to consult the EITI Standard 2019 to be found on the EITI website www.eiti.org
In August 2022 at MSG Statutory Meeting a request was received from the National Coordinator (NC) for its retro-active approval of Terms of Reference (TOR) for the 4th Annual Report which the NC himself had produced. The MSG unanimously declined to approve this request on the grounds that the content of the TOR was seriously defective and that its submission to the Ministry by the NC without the benefit of an MSG review, input and approval was a serious violation of the EITI Standard. The Standard vests all authority pertaining to both content and process of the TOR in the MSG.
It should be noted that the issue of the Annual Report was only the latest example of the allegedly deficient performance of the NC. Details of such defects are documented elsewhere and noted in the Minutes of MSG meetings which are part of the public record.
Later in August it was discovered that the NC had disappeared from office without informing or seeking permission from the MSG which eventually became a four months absence from office.
During the months of the NC’s absence the MSG worked assiduously with the Permanent Secretary to address both the crisis in the Secretariat and the need to produce a valid TOR. Consequently, in November two senior civil servants were seconded to the NS from the MNR and a work-plan for production of the TOR for the Report was set in motion.
The arrangement by the MNR and MSG approval of the two senior staff positions breathed new life into GYEITI and the NS became productive for the first time since the appointment of the NC in early 2022 and began to work assiduously to produce a revised TOR.
In view of this satisfactory development, the 58th Meeting in December 2022 of the MSG Statutory Body recorded the following decision: “The MSG concluded that it was no longer necessary for the Co-Chairs to engage with the National Coordinator since the PS had reported at a Co- Chairs meeting that the post of National Coordinator had been vacated.”
At that meeting the proposal to conduct a Performance Evaluation of the NC was agreed to by the MSG-Civic on the condition that it be undertaken expeditiously and this process was set in motion. Without notice or explanation the, NC re-appeared and presented himself at the January 2023 (59th) MSG meeting.
The Minister of Natural Resources informed the same January Meeting that he had begun to negotiate directly with the EITI International Secretariat to secure an extension of the deadline for the 4th. Annual Report and requested MSG support for this action. However, the MSG only received a copy of said letter after it had been sent. The EITI Standard clearly states that any request for extension “must be made in advance of the deadline and be endorsed by the Multi-Stakeholder Group” (Art.7)
In late January MSG-Civic wrote to the Minister of MNR informing him that MSG-Civic actions would continue to be guided by the December MSG decision, referred to above.
The MSG-Civic has conducted its Performance Evaluation of the NC and is participating in the ongoing process.
MSG-Civic vote to abstain on the TOR issue was consistent with the position communicated to the Minister.
Vanda Radzik, Mike McCormack
On behalf of MSG-Civic of the GYEITI