The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has reiterated the importance of Guyanese authorities making legislative amendments to remove confidentiality constraints on the disclosure of data relevant for reporting oil and the mining industries.
In its recently published 2020 Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI) report, it was noted that the recommendation which was made for the previous year is of high priority as it aims to strengthen government systems, encourage civil society participation, and foster trust in the extractive industries sector.
For readers who may be unfamiliar with the EITI, it is a global standard that advocates for open and accountable management of natural resources. Guyana’s efforts are channeled through the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI), a multi-stakeholder group (MSG) comprising government agencies, extractive companies, and civil society organizations.
In its latest report, the GYEITI has recommended that the Guyanese multi-stakeholder group develop a roadmap in collaboration with relevant government agencies to amend the Revenue Authority Act (1996) and the Income Tax Act (1929). The purpose of these amendments is to remove any confidentiality constraints that hinder the public disclosure of data necessary for EITI reporting. The GYEITI urged the MSG to review existing legislation, identify areas related to confidentiality issues, list any observed restrictions, and formulate recommendations to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Finance for the removal of existing barriers to EITI compliance.
It also said that one of the primary challenges faced by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in complying with the GYEITI’s recommendations is the legal requirement of confidentiality outlined in Section 23(1) of the Revenue Authority Act (1996) and Section 4 of the Income Tax Act (1929). These provisions restrict GRA from disclosing individual taxpayer information to unauthorized persons. Consequently, GRA has been unable to provide comprehensive payment receipts from extractive companies and identify their identities. Furthermore, the lack of taxpayer identification and matching with license/permit holders has raised concerns about the comprehensiveness of extractive revenues reported by GRA.
Recognizing the importance of comprehensive data disclosure, it was revealed that the Co-Chair of the civic multi-stakeholder group has reached out to the GYEITI “Champion” on behalf of civil society members. In a letter dated April 12, 2022, the Co-Chair requested the intervention of the President of Guyana, urging the issuance of relevant instructions under section 4(2) of the Income Tax Act. The aim is to ensure the provision of required data and information to the GYEITI Independent Administrator in a “comprehensive” manner, aligning with the objectives of the EITI.
The Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI) for years has been spearheading efforts to promote transparency, accountability, and public trust in the management of Guyana’s natural resources. The recent call for legislative amendments to remove confidentiality constraints represents a significant stride towards achieving compliance with the EITI 2019 Standard.