Thursday, January 25 2018 14:25
Naira Badalian

Armenia establishes criteria for ensuring transparency in the field of natural resource management

Armenia establishes criteria for ensuring transparency in the field of natural resource management

ArmInfo. On January 25, the Government of Armenia approved a package of legislative amendments aimed at increasing transparency in the sphere of subsoil use and mining.

As the Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources of Armenia Ashot Manukyan pointed out, the package of amendments introduced in the RA Code on Subsoil, the Tax Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses results from Armenia's obligations as part of its membership in the international coalition "Transparency Initiative in the extractive industry "(EITI).

According to him, the main goal of the legislative initiative in ensuring transparency in the management of natural resources. In this direction, as the minister noted, the first step has already been taken - from January 1 archive fund, where all the information on the accessible to all interested.

"Today's initiative is the second step by which the government ensures transparency in the activities of subsoil users, in this respect legislation the criteria for assessing transparency," - explained Manukyan.

In particular, changes in the "RA Code on Subsoil" imply the establishment of criteria for subsoil users, reporting forms. On the basis of this, they are obliged to place complex information on the volumes of extraction of raw materials on a special electronic platform. The proposed amendments to the Tax Code provide for a similar duty for tax authorities to publish all data on tax revenues to the budget from subsoil users. The latter will also be obliged to publish information on financial transfers to the non-budgetary funds of CHI. The third innovation, resulting from the two above, provides for changes in the Code of Administrative Offenses, which establishes penalties and a number of sanctions against violators of the aforementioned obligations.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is the international standard for transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, oil and gas. Armenia became the 52nd country to follow the implementation of the Initiative standards. On 9 March 2017, the candidature of Armenia was approved in Colombian Bogota, after which, within the next 18 months, it will have to submit the first EITI report, which will be approved in accordance with international standards initiative. In developing the transparency policy of the mining industry of Armenia, the Government of Armenia cooperates with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank (WB), etc.

EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, civil society, investors and international organizations. It was created in 2002 on the initiative of the then Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair at the conference on sustainable development in Johannesburg. The goal of the Initiative is to increase transparency and improve the quality of governance in extractive industries through periodic publication of reports, compliance with standards and strengthening of institutional capacity. Under the Initiative, mining companies should disclose information on the amounts of their tax and non-tax payments to governments, and governments should publish reports on their income.

The transparency of information obtained by EITI standards on the amount of revenues generated allows parliaments of countries, non-governmental organizations, as well as citizens themselves, to monitor the activities of companies and the Government. Such civil control not only hampers abuse in this area, but will also contribute to more effective development of countries as a result of improved economic conditions and more active attraction of foreign direct investment.

As world experience shows, extractive companies only benefit from greater transparency, thanks to the creation of equal and predictable economic relations. For today EITI covers 52 countries, which submitted 332 fiscal reports, which brought a profit to the budget of the participants of the initiative of $ 2.3 trillion. 

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