Colleague Ministers, Honorable Members, Diplomats, Departmental Heads, CEOs of State entities, representatives from Industry and Civil Society, Donors, Development Partners, ladies and gentlemen.
Today I am proud to announce yet another milestone achievement – the publication of the first PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – or PNG EITI Report. The Report was published on the 12th of February and it provides a comprehensive detail covering the country’s extractive sector. It is both an honor and a pleasure to be here with you today to officially launch the report.
Ladies and gentlemen, EITI is a global standard that strives to promote transparency and accountability in the use of revenues from the oil, gas and mining sectors. The initiative is now being implemented globally by some 51 countries rich in mineral resources, including PNG. The intent of the initiative is to ensure that stakeholders, citizens (including landowners) and investors have access to factual data and other contextual information about the extractive industry, and from which they are able to engage in an open dialogue and make informed decisions regarding the management and utilization of these natural wealth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our country as we all know, is rich with oil, gas, and minerals. However, these resources will be depleted one day, hence we in Government have a responsibility to ensure that revenues generated from extraction of these mineral and petroleum resources are not wasted but instead used in a responsible manner, and in areas that support long term sustainable development.
My Government is concerned about the issues of transparency and accountability in the extractive industry. Our oil, gas and mining legislation allows for collaboration between investors, government and landowners. This collaboration has, as seen most recently by the PNG LNG Project, resulted in the successful delivery of a world class project. However, this does not mean that everything is working well for us as a country. I must admit that there are many pressing policy issues that require concerted effort, not only from the Government but from all stakeholders in addressing these issues in a systematic manner over time. The Government recognizes this and has embarked on several initiatives to address them. The release of the first EITI Report covering the financial year 2013 is the culmination of one such initiative.
A critical challenge encountered in putting together this Report is the lack of publicly available data and information, and the difficulty of accessing information in a timely manner due to multiple information and data management challenges within and across key ministries and departments. While not a solution to every problem we face today, the successful implementation of PNG EITI will serve as a foundation going forward, not only for increasing public availability of extractives sector payments and receipts but also the accountability for how revenues from this key sector is used to support the nation’s interests.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the EITI mechanism is a diagnostic tool to address transparency and accountability issues. As such the objective of implementing EITI in the country is to: enhance and improve public understanding of the management of the extractive industries; improve accountability of both government and industry through enhanced understanding of how the extractive sector is managed; improve transparency of payments made to national, provincial and local level governments and landowner groups; to promote PNG as an attractive destination for new investment; and to ensuring revenue generation and collection is consistent with legal and policy settings.
With these points in mind, my Government made a bold move to join the global EITI family by applying for candidacy in March 2014. In accordance with the EITI Standard and Rules, we were required to produce this first country report within 18 months of becoming a candidate country.
I am proud to announce today that the Government had met the requirement of its candidacy by publishing this Report well in advance of this 18 months deadline. The production of the Report is a culmination of sustained efforts and collaboration between the Government, companies involved in the extractive industry and the civil society. I must thank the Treasurer, Hon. Patrick Pruaitch who is the Chairman of the PNG EITI Multi-stake Group (MSG) and Minister responsible for EITI implementation in the country for spearheading this. I am very pleased with the outcome of this Report. For the first time in our country, we have embarked on a process that will provide a comprehensive and an informative picture of the extractive sector, its contribution to the economy and how we have been managing the revenue flows from resource extraction.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Report contains factual data from relevant Government agencies and companies and other contextual information about the extractive industry. The Report also highlights some significant information and data gaps, weaknesses in the systems and process of government, data storage and record keeping and legislative and policy constraints that require our intervention. However, I am glad that this Report has set the basis for the Government to address some of these challenges in future reports.
I therefore encourage everyone to use the Report, inform yourself about the extractive industry and its contribution to the PNG economy and urge you to engage in constructive debates on the issues as highlighted and recommended.
And, while we celebrate the publication of the first Report, there is much work left to be done. In order to become a fully compliant member of EITI, PNG must finalize its second EITI Report by the end of 2016. This second Report must be fully reconciled and then validated to ensure compliance with the EITI Standard, with all relevant government agencies and companies needing to meet the reporting requirements. We must maintain our focus, and come together to ensure that we, stakeholders in this great nation, show to ourselves and the world what together we can achieve.
Again, I would like to congratulate the Treasurer and the PNG EITI Multi Stakeholder Group for a job well done in achieving this important milestone in our progress towards realizing a full pledged EITI member. I also acknowledge government entities and companies that have participated in this reporting process and encourage you all to continue with the good work you have done by working on the second Report that is important for validating our membership to the EITI.
Last but not the least, my acknowledgement also goes to our donors and development partners who are with us this afternoon, especially the World Bank and the EITI International Secretariat for the technical support to the EITI implementation. I also thank the Independent Administrator, Ernst and Young for preparing this first Report within the required time despite the many challenges encountered in data and information collection.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I NOW OFFICIALLY LAUNCH THE FIRST PAPUA NEW GUINEA EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE COUNTRY REPORT.