Source: Kaieteur News Guyana

In light of Guyana’s obligation to improve public access to information since becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the government has committed to having all contracts, licences and permits published along with their geo-located data.

This was noted in the administration’s Green State Development Strategy – Policy Recommendations, Financial Mechanism, and Implementation. According to the document, Guyana is expected to have such information published and updated at regular intervals to improve the transparency of Guyana’s natural resources management.

Tasked with handling this job is the National Data Management Agency (NDMA) via its e-governance unit.
This newspaper understands that the NDMA would be required to work with statutory bodies such as the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Forestry Commission, and Department of Energy, to establish online digital portals for the publication of all contracts, licences and permits for exploration and production in the extractive sectors.

The NDMA will also be required to work with the Deeds Registry to digitise company registration data so that it is easily accessible to the public.

The move by the government to ensure all contracts, licences and permits are published would be in keeping with the recently improved standards of the EITI.
The 2019 Standard states that Guyana, along with 51 other countries, must also have a publicly available register of the beneficial owners of the corporate entities that apply for or hold a participating interest in an exploration or production oil, gas or mining licence or contract.

Guyana must also include the identity (ies) of the beneficial owner(s), the level of ownership and details about how ownership or control is exerted. Where possible, the international watchdog expects that beneficial ownership information should be incorporated in existing filings by companies to corporate regulators, stock exchanges or agencies regulating extractive industry licensing.
Where this information is already publicly available, the country’s EITI Report is expected to include guidance on how to access this information.

Further to this, implementing countries of the EITI Standard are required to document the government’s policy and multi-stakeholder group’s discussion on disclosure of beneficial ownership. EITI said that this should include details of the relevant legal provisions, actual disclosure practices and any reforms that are planned or underway related to beneficial ownership disclosure.
As of 1 January 2020, EITI also said it is required that implementing countries request, and companies publicly disclose, beneficial ownership information. Any significant gaps or weaknesses in reporting on beneficial ownership information must be disclosed, EITI said, including naming any entities that failed to submit all or parts of the beneficial ownership information.

Where a country is facing constitutional or significant practical barriers to the implementation of this requirement by 1 January 2020, EITI said that the country may seek adapted implementation in accordance with Article 1 of the EITI Board’s procedures for oversight.