The Hon. Vice President underlined the unflinching commitment of the President Julius Maada Bio to transparency and accountability in good governance particularly in the extractive industry.
The Hon. Vice President went on to state the important change that has taken place in the government engagement within the process in ensuring coordination at the highest level and the strong government leadership in the Sierra Leone Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.
He noted that, this was the first time the country is going through the validation process under the 2016 EITI provision. He went on stating that, as a new government, they welcome the validation process adding that they are going to use the outcome of the validation process as a baseline in order for them to be able to make the necessary reforms to ensure that they gain satisfactory rating on the provisions.
VP Jalloh maintained that, as a government, they welcomed the EITI requirement of information on beneficial ownership be made public by 2020.
He added that the government of His Excellency Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is in full gear engaging the business community, civil society and other partners to work assiduously to meet the EITI beneficial ownership standard by 2020.
The VP informed the team that, SLEITI office was relocated to his office for a closer supervision of it activities adding that the Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President Mrs. Francess P. Alghali has been charged with the responsibility to oversee the activities of the secretariat.
He concluded by expressing hope that they team had had a fruitful discussions with the relevant stakeholders and that they have been able to obtain useful and credible information to enrich their report.
In his briefings, the Technical Manager of EITI International Secretariat, Mr. Christoffer Claussen explained that the EITI Validation exercise is a reporting standard that encompasses three components that are required for transparency in the extractive sectors. These, he said, include the process of transparency, transparency provisions and how the information once transparent was used for improving the natural resource governance of various countries in the world.
Giving a brief background of the membership of EITI, Mr. Claussen said the secretariat is made up of 50 members of which Sierra Leone is among for over 10 years. He added that as a member of the EITI, Sierra Leone has published through the EITI Secretariat, SLEITI report covering the period 2006 to 2016.
On the purpose of their visit to the country, the EITI Technical Manager stated they were in the country to ensure that Sierra Leone is making progress towards meeting the EITI standards. The validation process he informed is not about pass or fail but based on the degree of progress in ensuring that various transparency information are available, possible to use and accessible to the wider public.
Giving an update of their work since they came into the country, Mr. Claussen informed that, they have done a desk review on SLEITI report, government website and other documentations, held meetings with government representatives including the Chief Innovation Officer of Sierra Leone, civil society representatives and industry representatives in order for them to get their views, ensure that they got the correct information so that, everyone will have their say on what they believed is a challenge or whether there are opportunities in the extractive sector.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator of SLEITI, Madam Mina Horace said that, the validation process came at a very exciting time. She stated that for the country, it’s actually a learning process in as it gives an insight in identifying the gaps they have in tackling the weaknesses in the extractive industry.
She said her secretariat welcomed the exercise whole heartedly and that they are happy that the team came at the right time when the country has a new leadership. She expressed hope that the recommendation that will be proffered by the team will be treated seriously.
She maintained that the validation process is an opportunity for the nation and her people as they are now going to realize more opportunities and that with the implementation of the validation recommendations, the country will suffer less corruption, benefit from dressing the issues of new taxes or better administration in collecting taxes.