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SLEITI Engaged Stakeholders on EITI Board's Strategic Themes and Validation

Ahead of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Board's Retreat scheduled for 12th February, 2020 in Oslo, Norway- where senior government representatives will assemble to discuss EITI's role in addressing corruption, EITI's contribution in the global discussions on energy transition; its impact, and reviewing the current validation model-the Multi-stakeholder group (MSG) of the Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative ( SLEITI) has held a half-day stakeholders dialogue forum to discuss its views on the above mentioned thematic areas. The session was held at the SLEITI Secretariat , 17 Charles Street, Freetown. 

The SLEITI National Coordinator Mina Horace's presentation on corruption in the global extractive sector, validation models, and that of the Communications Officer's -Mohamed Fernando Conteh on EITI implementation in Sierra Leone, set the tone for dialogue, which saw stakeholders making their inputs into SLEITI's views in respect of the thematic areas. 

In her presentation, Madam Horace drew the attention of participants to the high level of corruption in the sector citing that it's riddled with massive cases of illicit financial flows, bribery and corruption. Using the extractive sector Value Chain, she explained the potential for corruption in each step of the Value Chain. Madam Horace mentioned how the EITI is helping to fight corruption through the production of annual EITI reports which, among others, reveals gaps in the legal and regulatory frameworks, shortfalls in the fiscal regime, gaps in the license award process, discrepancies between governments and companies payments and identification of flaws within contracts. 

In a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD), Madam Horace said one-fifth of the 427 foreign bribery actions examined came from the extractive sector, noting that " the debate on the role of EITI in fighting corruption in Sierra Leone and the extractive sector at large is a flagship work in progress". 

On Validation, Madam Horace's presentation  indicated that validation is an essential feature of the EITI process and that it serves to assess performance and promote dialogue and learning at country level. The process also safeguards the integrity of the EITI by holding all implementing countries to the same standards, including providing stakeholders with an independent assessment of whether EITI implementation in a country is in line with the provisions of the EITI Standard. 

Stakeholders view on corruption following her presentations were in line with EITI questions on the  thematic areas. for instance, whether corruption mitigation in the extractive sector was considered by the SLEITI MSG in its implementation objectives? In response, it was the view of stakeholders that corruption is predominant across the extractive industries Value Chain adding that the EITI could be one of the several stakeholder approaches to addressing corruption, which many said have "plunged deprived nations, but resource rich, into a circle of debt and borrowing". Stakeholders urged the EITI to find means of addressing all the " known corruption issues " affecting the sector. 

In addition to SLEITI reconciliation reports which many acknowledged has helped to uncover revenues that are uncounted for, they also pointed out that the government of Sierra Leone has demonstrated undisputed commitment in the fight against corruption through the enactment of the new  2019 Anti-Corruption Commission Act, and the Extractive Industries Revenue Act of 2018. They hold the view that the aforementioned laws could serve many purposes including the fight against corruption in the extarctive sector in Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the current validation model earlier mentioned by Madam Horace, stakeholders were of the view that the introduction of new EITI requirements from time to time sometimes affect implementation, thus making the process seemingly complex. In addition, it was mentioned that implementing countries should also undertake due diligence in advance on independent validators hired by the EITI International Secretariat.  

With these and more, Madam Horace said the consolidated views of stakeholders will form part of Sierra Leone's input to the EITI's Board discussion in Oslo; where Sierra Leone will be represented in high level strategic discussion by the Minster of State, Office of the Vice President; Chair, SLEITI MSG. According to stakeholders, the Minister's participation will further raise the profile of Sierra Leone's commitment in implementing the EITI Standard and the fight against corruption in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. 

In attendance at the nationwide half-day consultations forum were the Minister of State, Office of the Vice President; Chair SLEITI MSG, officials from the National Minerals Agency, National Revenue Authority, Petroleum Directorate, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, Corporate Affairs Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and other key agencies and organizations. The large scale mining companies were represented by Sierra Rutile under the Chamber of Mines, and  civil society groups attended under the umbrella of National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives ( NACE), including the Media.