Chamber of Mines calls on PNG to join resource industry anti-corruption initiative

ABC Radio reports the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has called on the PNG government to sign up to an international anti-corruption initiative.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative began in 2003.

It is designed to help countries clean up their mining and resources industry by publishing the details of all revenue received, in a format easily understood by all citizens.

Thirty-two nations, most from the developing world, have already joined.

Greg Anderson Executive Director of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says signing up to the initiative would make it harder for corruption to flourish.

ANDERSON: We as a Chamber have been a great supporter of having a PNG EITI, because we feel all citizens have a right to know what revenues the government is receiving from our industry. Everybody has that right. We also feel that as an industry that we are making a major contribution to the nation and that's not always transparent and obvious to the citizens and the community. If we have an EITI established and that becomes very apparent, and the contribution that we make and the contribution and the revenues received by the government is published for all to see in a readily available form, then that's a great step forward.

GARRETT: How would joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative help reduce corruption in Papua New Guinea?

ANDERSON: Well I think if everybody's aware of the revenues that we are generating and what the government is receiving, and it's not always obvious, the information is out there now, but it's not obvious or not available to the average person or even the educated person. So if it's readily available people know what's there and what the government's receiving from our industry, and indeed from other sources is valuable, and then they can ask questions and they can be informed.

GARRETT: How hard would it be for the Papua New Guinea government to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative?

ANDERSON: Well it's not hard if you have the commitment, we understand and we've been advised that government has in principle accepted it, it's a matter of making that significant step to actually setting up the secretariat and being totally committed to it, because you must be totally committed to it to make it work, otherwise it's only going to be half done.

GARRETT: Would joining the Extractive Industries Transparency agreement strengthen Papua New Guinea's arm in its negotiations with what are really quite powerful companies in the resources industry?

ANDERSON: Yes but I think it also demonstrates to the world that you're committed to trying to deal with your governance problems, with your corruption problems, it's one tool to show the world that you're making a genuine attempt to face the issues. It's a very clear message to the international investment sector, both the resource companies themselves, but of course the financial backers of our projects.

GARRETT: Australia has been slow to joint the Extractive Industries Transparency agreement, why is that?

ANDERSON: Well I suppose I can't really speak for Australia, but one could say that they feel they don't have the same need as certain other countries, but I think it would show a commitment to the cause and Australia of course has this long relationship with PNG as encouraging PNG to join the EITI, it would be very significant show of solidarity if they were also to join.