Samir Sharifov, Chairman of the National Committee on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Executive Director of the State Oil Fund briefed on April 20 the senior representatives of the governments of the United Kingdom and Norway and the oil companies, international financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations on Azerbaijani government activity within the framework of EITI.
Mr. Sharifov informed the briefing participants about practical ways of Azerbaijanâ€TMs joining EITI, discussions with the representatives of the extractive sector companies and NGOs in Azerbaijan on the company reporting forms under EITI, and also the meeting with the NGO representatives about setting up a group that would aggregate the figures in the company reporting forms about payments to the government of Azerbaijan and answered to their questions.
Mr. Sharifov indicated that the Republic of Azerbaijan joined EITI on June 17, 2003 at the International Conference on EITI in London and the National Committee on EITI was established on November 13, 2003 by the Ordinance of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan following the instruction of Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan.
The representatives of the Global Witness, Transparency International, Save the Children, Open Society Institute and other influential NGOs highly appreciated the measures taken by the Azerbaijani government for promoting transparency in the extractive industries.
George Soros, founder of the OSI said that he was pleased to see that the Azerbaijani government implemented the commitments on EITI it had taken during the meetings with him last year and Azerbaijan has became a pilot country of EITI. Commenting on the presentation, Mr. Soros pointed out that there is no need for aggregation of the figures in the reports of the different companies by NGOs or â€œany other third partyâ€ and suggested that the figures would be better to be aggregated by the Naitonal Committee on EITI.
The representative of the Global Witness also said that they see no need to aggregate the figures on payments to the government and the extractive sector companies should publish individual reports.
Mr.Sharifov indicated that the above said proposals differ from what has been envisaged by the reporting guidelines at the International Conference on EITI and they woudl therefore require further consideration. He pledged that Azerbaijan as pilot country of EITI would consider the issues expeditiosly and be able to come up with a reasonable solution shortly.
The participants of the briefing, which was organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in United Kingdom in conjunction with the Anglo-Azeri Society have demonstrated special interest in the process and described the event as â€œa very impressive step forward.