Lawmakers urged to legislate transparency in mining sector
Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - February 6, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A multi-stakeholder group (MSG) is urging lawmakers to  craft a proposed Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) legislation for the Philippines to enhance transparency, accountability and probity in the management of the country’s natural resources.

The Philippines was admitted in May 2013 as a candidate country by the EITI board.

EITI is a global standard for transparency in the mining sector that involves the reconciliation of company payments with government receipts by an independent administrator, and disclosure of that information to the public.

The PH-EITI-MSG, headed by Finance Assistant Secretary Teresa Habitan, said a legislation backing the initiative is deemed a vital tool that will ensure the Philippines achieve complaint status with the EITI by making it mandatory for companies and government reporting entities to declare income they earn from mining industries.

“Our priority is to seek support from our lawmakers who are in the position to contribute to and also define the reform agenda, to institutionalize EITI in our legislation and address issues in the extractive industry,” Habitan said.

At present, existing practices in the country do not have the mechanism in place to examine and determine discrepancies between what the government reports as collection and what the companies report as payments in the mining industry.

“It is a good time to set standards so we can establish correctly what is everyone’s fair share by coming out with a framework that will be well-followed by the players in the industry,” said CPBRO Director General Jun Miral.

Being an EITI complaint is important for any resource-rich country as it is seen to result in improved revenue collection and create a nore attractive investment climate.

EITI candidate countries have two years to complete the preparation, disclosure and dissemination phases. These phases include the establishment of the MSG which will oversee the various steps in the EITI process including endorsement of the country work plan; agreement on reporting templates; establishing terms of reference for and choosing an organization to undertake the reconciliation; and review, comment and dissemination of the EITI report.

Within two years, EITI candidate countries must undergo the EITI Validation process, which determines whether or not a country has achieved compliant status,

The MSG has engaged in regular dialogues and secured provision for funding from the government (P5.8 million in 2013 and P10.9 million for this year).

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima expects mining to contribute more to state coffers once the country is able to resolve the issues hounding the industry.

“With fair and proper policies in place that protect the environment, responsible mining can contribute at least an additional one percent to the country’s GDP. The Aquino administration firmly believes that data transparency through compliance to the EITI international standard is one of the key policies in unlocking the transformative potential of extractive industries,” Purisima said.

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