The UK and France Governments have recently announced that they will implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which sets the global benchmark for transparent disclosure of government revenues raised through the exploitation of their natural resources.

The EITI standard already has 40 members and obliges governments to disclose all revenues, including taxes, royalties and fees received from the oil, gas and mining industries; and companies to disclose their payments to governments. Australia is currently implementing an EITI pilot and the United States has indicated it will comply with EITI. Details of the standard can be found here.

Following EITI’s recent conference in Australia, new rules on the disclosure of contracts as well as the beneficial owners of contracting companies have been agreed. It is anticipated that they will be in place from 2016.

In combination with the recent EU announcement that it will introduce legislation to oblige extractive industries to disclose payments to governments (blogged here), this announcement represents an increased drive to increase transparency within the oil, gas and mining sectors, and reduce the scope for corrupt payments.

Indeed, the Liberian EITI agency published its first ever audit on how Liberia awarded its resource concessions between 2009 and 2011. Whilst the report does not make pretty reading, with an acknowledgement that Liberia failed to fully apply its own laws when awarding 60 of 68 contracts for mining, oil and gas, logging and large-scale agriculture, it is a big move in the right direction. An admission of failings is clearly the first step towards correcting them in the future. It is hoped that the publication of the audit is a sign of Liberia’s political will to do so, but it will need to action the recommendations within the audit. The new EITI standard on identification of beneficial ownership will also cast a spotlight on Liberia and the other members’ true commitment to EITI’s goal of complete transparency. Whilst, there is much to do, Liberia should nevertheless be applauded for leading the way. The audit is available here.