16 December 2014, Abuja – The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency (NEITI) has said the recent adoption of the beneficial ownership regime by the United Kingdom (UK) to raise the standards in the implementation of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was a step further in enthroning good governance and accountability of extractive revenues.
NEITI noted with delight in a statement from its Director of Communications, Orji Ogbonanya Orji that by this development, the UK has become the first out of 48 countries in the EITI global community to fully embrace the beneficial ownership policy as well as adopt the new directive by the European Union (EU) on extractive industries revenue transparency.
In context, the new beneficial ownership policy requires full disclosure on payment of taxes, royalties and licence fees on extractive activities. It also requires that beneficial owners of companies which bid for, operate and/or invest in the extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining be published for transparency.
The UK also adopted the EU accounting policy on project by project reporting and under this new policy, it is now mandatory in the UK for registered extractive and logging companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to publish on project-by-project basis, report of payments of above £85,000 made to the government of the countries where they operate.
NEITI in this regard said that with the London Stock Exchange covering over 14 per cent of the world’s extractive capital in terms of the companies involved in the extractive sector, the adoption of these key transparency principles in the UK at this time is asignificant milestone in the global fight against corruption and Nigeria in particular.
It explained that the development is even timelier in the oil and gas industry where the UK is home to many of the world’s largest extractive companies such as British Petroleum (BP) and Royal Dutch Shell among others who operate in Nigeria either directly or by proxy.
The statement in Abuja also contained the reaction of the Chairman of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of NEITI, Ledum Mitee as well as that of NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed on UK’s new steps and in which they hailed the adoption of the policies by the UK as major landmarks in the implementation of the EITI principles globally.
Mitee said: “This is a step in the right direction as Nigeria will rely on the data supplied through project-by-project reporting for proper accountability and transparency in the extractive industry. I congratulate the UK government for its commitment to implement fully the beneficial ownership policy under the EITI standards and expect other developed nations to emulate this example.”
Ahmed in particular also viewed the development as a significant step needed at this time to strengthen the EITI implementation especially in Sub Saharan Africa.
Also quoted in the statement was Faith Nwadishi, a member of NEITI/EITI board and National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay in Nigeria (PWYP).
“These initiatives will equip citizens with more information with which to hold both governments and companies to account for the management of our natural resource wealth as well as provide safeguards against corruption. This indeed marks an important step forward in the drive towards translating Nigeria’s extractive wealth into better living standards for its citizens,” Nwadishi said.
Nigeria signed onto the global EITI in 2003, began implementation in 2004 and supported the Initiative with a specific Legislation in 2007. The goal of the EITI is to encourage resource-rich countries like Nigeria to manage revenues from the natural resources prudently to reduce poverty and support national development. The decision of the United Kingdom to fully embrace the policy is a morale booster to implementing countries many of which are found in the resource rich nations in Sub Saharan Africa.
NEITI has reportedly commenced gradual integration of the new EITI Standards including Beneficial Ownership policy in its on-going and future operations.
– This Day