FIAA meeting on the activity of Albanian EITI Secretariat

FIAA meeting on the activity of Albanian EITI Secretariat

A joint meeting between the Albanian EITI Secretariat and Companies’ representatives (represented by FIAA) at the Multi-Stakeholder Group was organized on February 13, 2018 at the FIAA headquarters (Foreign Investors Association of Albania) in Tirana.

The meeting also served to introduce two new members: Statkraft (Devoll HPP) and Selenica Bitumi, who will join the current Company members in MSG: Shell Upstream Albania, Aneta Cement and Tirex shpk (ltd).

The Head of the EITI Secretariat, Mr.Ardit Kamberi, praised in his speech the commitment shown by representatives of companies in the EITI reporting process in Albania, considering this group as an essential pillar of the substantial triangular cooperation (Government Institutions, Companies and Civil Society) in the activity of the Albanian EITI.

It should be noted that Albania promoted the inclusion of the Energy sector in the EITI reporting process while the involvement of companies from this vital sector for the country in the MSG reconfirms the comprehensive nature of this process in the exploitation of natural resources.

The positive official assessment, made by the Oslo-based EITI Board in mid-February 2018 at the end of the formal validation process on the progress of the activity of the EITI National Secretariat, is extremely significant.

Mr. Kamberi highlighted the fact that the EITI Initiative serves as a showcase for foreign investors in Albania, by ensuring official information, reliability and safety in line with the international standard.

Mr. Kamberi briefed the new MSG members on the structure and function of the EITI Secretariat and MSG, and on the final phase of the EITI Report 2016, taking into account the recommendations given by the stakeholders and the Oslo-based EITI International Secretariat as well.

Mr. Kamberi also presented the EITI Secretariat’s priorities for 2018, which include among others: the preparation of a more comprehensive Annual Report; informing the general public on the work of the EITI Secretariat (Communication Activities); Improving and strengthening the structure and role of the MSG; Increasing industry’s impact on local communities and the social component; Requiring Environmental Impact Assessment for Extractive activities in Albania; Improving the legal framework for Transparency including BO (Beneficial Ownership); Reporting of state-owned companies, as well as the establishment of a complete online database system for all Mining, Petroleum and Hydro-power activities in Albania.

FIAA’s representative. Mr. Përparim Alikaj, stated in his speech that the role of the EITI Secretariat along with companies’ contribution to this process has increased significantly in Albania.

One of the concerns raised by Mr. Alikaj was that the municipalities and the areas where extractive industry operates have not always received their due share of benefits from mining royalties. Mr. Alikaj also proposed changes to the current Mining Law as a concrete mechanism that will help Albania attract foreign investments and improve the business climate in this sector.

Mr. Turker Sengonul, CEO of Shell Upstream Albania, provided an overview of Shell’s current activity in Albania and underlined the importance of coherent reporting not only by Companies but also by Government institutions, since this will help achieve the ultimate objective of the EITI initiative.

Mr. Dritan Dervishaj of Antea Cement, a MSG member for four years, backed the idea that companies themselves are interested in being transparent with the government and that inconsistencies in EITI reporting have come mainly from state institutions. Mr. Dervishaj also said that local governments in extractive areas are double beneficiaries, benefiting both from mining royalty and local taxes.

Mr. Pandeli Bombaj, Technical Director of Selenica Bitumi, stressed the need to search for mechanisms that help increase transparency in extractive industry and therefore promote fair competition. Mr. Bombaj added that any changes to the legal framework should be made after there has been full consultation with the companies.

Mrs. Orkida Dragoti presented Statkraft’s activity and on its behalf ensured her commitment in the EITI Board. According to Mrs. Dragoti, the EITI Reporting Process is closely related to Statkraft’s transparency policy, and invited all investors to help resolve bureaucratic issues and contribute to the improvement of the legal framework in the extractive and energy sectors.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the parties reinforced their commitment to increase the level of cooperation, contribute to the expansion of the EITI activity in other areas, and boost transparency and public benefit in the exploitation of country’s natural resources, especially in the strategic extractive sectors.