Getting the civil society engaged in oil development

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Getting the civil society engaged in oil development Empty Getting the civil society engaged in oil development

Post  Sirop14 on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:39 am

Getting the civil society engaged in oil development


Whenever we talk about oil development in Seychelles, it always raises queries. Are we made aware of the findings, the costs and who is involved in the search for oil?
In order to improve the engagement of the civil society organisations (CSO) in this sector, the Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy invited some delegates from Tanzania and East Timor to share their experiences on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) with the various stakeholders.
This took the form of a workshop which was held yesterday at the Seychelles Trading Company’s (STC) conference room.
The EITI is a global standard for improved transparency of government revenue from natural resources that is being implemented in around 40 countries around the world.
A country’s natural resources belong to all its citizens. Yet in too many countries there is still very little awareness and openness about revenues from these natural resources.
The EITI standard rests on three pillars. Firstly, all revenues from a country’s natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals and metals, should be regularly published and independently verified.
Secondly, the publication of this data should be managed and overseen by a multi-stakeholder group composed of members of government, civil society and extractive industry companies.
Thirdly, this data should be effectively shared with the country’s citizens, and thus stimulate an informed debate about how natural resources are being governed.
Effective communications is essential to ensure transparency and for transparency to lead to accountability.
Improving transparency and accountability is one key step to alleviating and to helping mitigate these problems.
Corruption is only able to take place in a climate of secrecy and of partial or non-existent access to information.
Also, in the absence of information, people often assume the worst – an assumption which can lead to distrust and conflict.
Countries implement the EITI to mitigate this information deficit. By publishing information on how much is being paid and received by which organisations, and by involving civil society groups in overseeing that process, the EITI can be part of building a culture of trust between citizens, the government and the private sector.
Fatime Kante, economist from the Ministry of Finance, gave an overview of the EITI process in Seychelles.
“In 2012 the government of Seychelles decided to implement institutional and regulatory reforms in the petroleum sector with the objective of attracting investment in the sector. Concerned about the impact of oil exploration, the government also decided to strengthen transparency in the financial reporting of the sector. Seychelles applied for EITI candidacy in June 2014. The EITI board approved Seychelles’ application and Seychelles was declared ‘Candidate Country’ in August 2014. Seychelles must now present its first EITI report by February 6, 2016 and it must initiate Validation of the EITI process by February 6, 2017 (within two years and a half of being a Candidate Country),” explained Ms Kante.
Patrick Joseph from PetroSeychelles gave an overview of the ‘Oil Sector in Seychelles’ from when oil development started in 1957 until now.
He said the primary objective of PetroSeychelles is to promote and supervise effective and safe oil exploration and development programmes in the Seychelles’ exclusive economic zone and also to advise government on upstream petroleum related matters.
“Currently there is no production yet but we are gathering lots of data from the three companies that are exploiting oil: Afren, Ophir and JOGMEC. There are only three wells and the potential in Seychelles is to generate 4.3 trillion barrels of oil,” Mr Joseph said.
The chief executive of the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps), Veronique Bonnelame, gave a brief introduction of the CSO in Seychelles and its role in the EITI process.
“After the two years we still feel there is lack of awareness and lack of interest among the public. Today it is also a great opportunity to learn from our friends from Tanzania and East Timor about effective engagement with public on the EITI process, exploration and environmental concerns and business spin-offs from production,” she stated.
Amani Mhinda from Tanzania spoke about the CSO’s role in Tanzania and the lessons learned and challenges faced in their country and how Tanzania as a non-producing country implemented the EITI.
Nelson Augusto Seixas shared the experiences of how his country East Timor, an oil producing country, implemented the EITI process.
The workshop was quite animated with delegates from different NGOs asking many questions and clarifications.

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