US Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) expressed their strong support for Iraq’s commitment to make its oil and gas industry more transparent following Iraq’s Jan. 11 announcement that it plans to become an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative candidate country.
EITI is an international coalition of governments, companies, and others that promotes good governance through publication of oil, gas, and mining revenues, the two Senate Foreign Relations Committee members noted on Jan. 12.
“Corruption remains a significant problem in Iraq,” said Lugar, the committee’s ranking minority member. “As oil and gas is the single largest source of revenue [there], it is important that the revenue generated benefit the people of Iraq and not just a handful of businessmen and officials. By committing to implement EITI, Iraq is creating a foundation for good governance in a sector critical to Iraq’s future stability.”
Cardin said, “This is a significant step toward a greater future for Iraq.” The senator also has promoted EITI as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, more commonly known as the US-Helsinki Commission.
“The EITI process has proven to strengthen civil society and increase revenue transparency. By joining this coalition, Iraq’s leaders are committing to transparency that will empower citizens to hold their government accountable,” Cardin maintained.
Iraqi Prime Minister Noori al Malaki announced Jan. 11 that Iraq plans to become an EITI candidate country in February and would implement the initiative in May. With 11% of the world’s total reserves, Iraq would become the largest oil-producing nation to implement the standards, EITI officials said.
At a conference launching Iraq’s effort in Baghdad, Jonas Moberg, who heads EITI’s secretariat, said the country’s implementation of EITI would be important in driving Iraq’s recovery and ensuring that its oil and gas wealth was managed for its citizens’ benefit.
Lugar and Cardin, along with eight other cosponsors, recently introduced S 1700, the Energy Security Through Transparency Act, which aims to increase transparency through public disclosure of oil, gas, and mining payments, and encourage US participation in EITI.