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Iraq's Oil Industry To Be Monitored By Transparency Group

An aerial view of the Al-Sheiba oil refinery in Basra
BAGHDAD -- Iraq has committed to providing accurate figures about its oil revenues by agreeing to verify details of its oil industry with an international transparency organization, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Eddie Rich, deputy head and regional director of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), told RFI on June 24 that Iraq "is in the process of undertaking the first reconciliation report which is planned to be completed by the end of October, and then the validation process will start soon after that."

He said the Iraqi government has until August 2012 to "complete a reconciliation report, disseminate the report, and have a validation, which is a quality assurance process to see how it has met EITI standards."

Established in 2002, the Oslo-based EITI tries to strengthen governance in mineral-rich countries by improving transparency and accountability in the extraction of oil, gas, and other raw materials. It works for better governance by working to verify and publicize company payments and government revenues from raw materials.

Rich said this procedure "will set up clearly credible figures about how much money is coming into Iraq from the sale of oil, and this gives a picture about how much the country has gained from these resources that belong to all the Iraqi people, not just the government."

He added that knowing precisely how much Iraq is making from oil exports helps the government decide how to manage these earnings and how the whole sector is managed.

Rich explained that "one of the key parts of the EITI process is not only to set up a framework for the publication of these figures, but it also establishes a 'multistack' group of governments, companies, and civil society organizations to oversee the whole process and to discuss the figures."

He pointed out that "there are representatives of ordinary Iraqi citizens in this group who are discussing these figures and they have the opportunity to put forward the views of Iraqi citizens."

John West, a UN Development Program coordinator, told RFI that Iraq's commitment to the EITI process will effectively contribute to curbing corruption, especially in the extractive mineral industries.

Iraqi Energy Institute Director Loay al-Khatib told RFI that the Iraqi government should step up its efforts for greater transparency so that its commitment to the EITI process will be more meaningful.

Eleven countries are currently EITI compliant, including Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Some 24 other countries have EITI candidate status, among them Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan.