IN this period where governments around the globe are grappling to save their economies and the health of their citizens, the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) fears transparency and accountability could be placed on the backburner.
As he opened the OWTU and TT Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI), on Thursday, OWTU’s chief education and research officer Ozzi Warwick said it is imperative that in this time of crisis transparency is kept on track,.
“Everybody acknowledge these are indeed difficult circumstances and therefore sometimes it is difficult for us to maintain focus on transparency initiatives."
“Governments globally and, of course right here in TT, are addressing the immediate health priorities and prioritising what we call economic recovery. Therefore with limited financial resources what can happen is that there is limited policy attention being placed on the issue of accountability and transparency especially in the extractive industries.”
“The extractive industries are still vulnerable to issues of corruption. Transparency in this particular time of crisis can ill afford to be de-prioritised. In times of crisis, let me say you really need transparency.
“We are aware that this government is a conservative government and they are too keen to adopt austerity measures. In light of the fall in oil prices and the economic impact of covid19 we would not want the TTEITI to be de-prioritized and even become a victim of austerity measure or any post covid19 recovery.
“If we truly want to recover, if we want to recover in a sustainable way, if we want to make sure in that recovery all can benefit, then we must ensure that the TTEITI process continues.”
He said the OWTU, a founding member of the TTEITI stands strong as a friend to ensure that this initiative continues and is even strengthened in a post covid 19 economy.
"The message as I open is let us keep transparency on track.”
The annual forum addressed the role of civil society in protecting the people’s patrimony and saw contributions from TTEITI chairman Gregory Mc Guire, TTEITI head secretariat, Sherwin Long, Cropper Foundation CEO, Omar Mohammed and OWTU’s general secretary, Richard Lee.
The TTEITI is part of a global initiative which promotes proper management of countries natural resources and work with governments to find a mutually beneficial way to manage the sector.
Warwick said for the people to benefit there must be greater understanding of the industry which requires transparency and accountability.
He said transparency and accountability should not be limited to the state but must also include private enterprises and multi nationals who exploit the natural resources.
“We are yet to draw several lessons from this unfolding health and economic crisis, the critical role of accurate data, transparency and trust in formatting smart and responsive policies, especially for decision makers in terms of how do we address the energy sector going forward.”
Candace Sebro who chaired the meeting said there is need for transparency not only in financial issues, but also in how it is impacting on civil societies and a people on the ground.