2017 has been a busy year for our countries. Almost half have completed Validation, we have seen unparalleled political commitments on beneficial ownership transparency and most are accelerating the process of mainstreaming transparency into government and company systems.
We welcomed three countries to our family in 2017 – Guyana, Mexico and Suriname. We also saw three countries withdraw from EITI implementation, Azerbaijan, Niger and the United States. Fluctuations in the commitment of countries is not new. Whilst some countries withdraw, other countries persist and step up, forging ahead on the road to more transparent and, ultimately, open societies.
Validation has shown that impact in 2017 across the 51 countries varies greatly. Iraq has brought transparency to the state’s oil exports that account for over 90% of budget revenue. Zambia EITI has provided valuable information along the value chain, identifying gaps and opportunities for strengthening monitoring of production. Kazakhstan is now making transparency an integral and routine feature of the governance and management systems. We expect that in 2017 some 300 billion USD of taxes and other payments will be made public by our 51 member countries.
The EITI Board and I proudly continue to promote and support the work done by our 51 member countries. 2018 will see a focus on integrating EITI reporting becoming part of national systems and increasingly becoming the norm. Technology and open data have opened up new opportunities to mainstream EITI and make transparency an integral and routine feature in government and company reporting systems. More and more governments and companies are publishing their data online and the EITI implementation must adapt to fit with these new circumstances. Mainstreaming will make the EITI process more effective and efficient, freeing up time for analysis, debate and reform.
The spirit of this season revolves around peace, generosity and fraternity. Earlier this year, the EITI member country Colombia signed a peace deal contributing to the end of one of the world’s longest running conflicts. The EITI Board was hosted in Bogota where I met with President Juan Santos in front of, ‘Victory for Peace’, given to him by the people of Colombia. We should never forget that transparency has been an essential part of the transition to peace.
To all those supporting EITI implementation and contributing to its impact, thank you. I look forward to working with you in the New Year. I wish you all a peaceful and happy holiday.