‘Delay tactics’ by civil society component of MSG resulted in Guyana’s non-submission of EITI 2020 report – Minister Bharrat

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat on Wednesday clarified that Guyana has been temporarily suspended from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), pending its submission of the 2020 report by the approved deadline of July 31, 2023.

The minister explained to the Department of Public Information (DPI) that Guyana had written to the EITI requesting an extension of the deadline to May 31, 2023, citing several reasons chief among them, the fact that the 2019 report was submitted on May 31, 2022, leaving just a few months for the 2020 to be submitted.

Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat

“With that short time frame, we tried to fast track the process and to ensure that we had that report prepared by the 31st December 2022. Having realised there were many difficulties… We would have written to the international secretariat requesting an extension up to the 31st May, 2023 for the submission of that report. That was followed by a meeting between myself and the head of the secretariat, Mr Mark Robinson to support our request for an extension,” Minister Bharrat stated.

The natural resources minister further explained that while awaiting formal approval following the meeting, instead a correspondence was received notifying of the country’s temporary suspension until the 2020 report is submitted, with a new deadline of July 31, 2023, after which the suspension would be withdrawn.

Further, the minister clarified a number of statements referenced in a Stabroek News article, which pointed to ‘controversy’ surrounding the appointment of Mr Prem Misir as Director of the GYEITI −the local secretariat.

“I want to state clearly…that the previous director, Dr Rudy Jadoopat, would have ended one year before he was replaced, however because we realised it is important to complete our reporting responsibility, he remained on the job for over one year…After submitting that report we would have decided we’re going through a public process of recruiting a new director, so it was advertised in the print as well as electronic media,” he disclosed.

Minister Bharrat said a number of applications were received for the position, including from Mr Misir and Dr Jadoopat and following the shortlisting and review processes, Mr Misir was selected as the most suitable candidate.

The minister reiterated that the director was appointed following a public, transparent process.

Addressing concerns related to the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), the minister expressed government’s stance that the civil society component was manipulated to include individuals who do not necessarily serve the collective interests of civil society.

He cited a number of delay tactics by the civil society component of the MSG in approving the terms of reference for the independent administrator, which resulted in significant delays in the reporting process.

Further delays occurred, Minister Bharrat related, because the MSG wanted to discuss the director’s appointment rather than the TORs for the independent administrator.

Nevertheless, the natural resources minister said the secretariat forged ahead with its work. All the reports were submitted by the respective reporting agencies including the Guyana Gold Board, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Ministry of Finance, among others.

“We also went ahead to appoint the independent administrator, a UK-based company…We have managed to get the consultant to travel to Guyana, they will be here on Monday…So that we can urgently work on completing the report.”

The minister reaffirmed that government will work to ensure that the report is submitted long in advance of the July deadline, since the delay was due mainly to personal issues taking precedence at the MSG meetings.