Group advocates for transparency in extractive industry

BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (PHEITI) continues to advocate for transparency in the country’s extractive industry in order for the people to be aware of the contributions of the industry in the overall economic growth of the nation.

Lawyer Maria Carla Espinosa, PHEITI National Coordinator, said the group’s process requires mining, oil and gas companies to disclose what they pay to the government and the government to publish what they collect from the said companies, to surface any discrepancy and recommend ways to address such problems.

She added their advocacy also led to the disclosure of mining contracts with government, memoranda of agreement with indigenous peoples, company-maintained environmental funds and other information that enable stakeholders to participate in issues surrounding the extractive industry.

Espinosa claimed the movement for transparency in the extractive industry got a renewed boost from the new administration’s pronouncements on transparency and responsible mining and even on countryside development which must be one of the priorities of the sector.

“Perhaps now more than ever, transparency occupies a central place in good governance in the country’s development, and PHEITI is willing and ready to contribute to moving our nation forward in whatever way we can,” Espinosa stressed.

While challenges remain, she pointed out the new administration inspires hope and optimism that reforms can be done and change can happen during the term of the sitting President.

According to her, major challenges for PHEITI include the continuing refusal of Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, which corners more than 90 percent of the country’s coal production, to participate in the initiative, thereby leaving a huge gap in the data for the coal sector.

Espinosa added through the PHEITI, concerned government agencies, particularly the Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Treasury, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Local government Finance, Bureau of Customs, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, concerned local governments and companies involved in the extractive industry were able to get their acts together in the formulation of appropriate guidelines in the reporting of the contributions of the extractive sector to the country’s economic growth through the past three years.

She explained local governments hosting the operation of the extractive industry were able to be empowered in demanding for the taxes due to the host and neighboring communities amidst the challenges of refusal of the companies to issue to them the right data and for concerned government agencies to reconcile their reports relative to the actual taxes paid by the companies in order for the host communities to ascertain the taxes due them in a prescribed period of time./Dexter See


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