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Tunisia

Joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative "EITI" (TN0021)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Tunisia Second National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry in charge with Energy and Mines

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Capacity Building, Extractive Industries, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Tunisia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Joining the extractive industries transparency initiative "EITI"

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. Join the extractive industries transparency initiative "EITI"

Commitment Text:

This commitment is intended to promote transparency and accountability in the area of natural resources in order to enhance this sector governance and build trust between the government, business and civil society as well as to improve the business environment and make Tunisia a model of transparency in the MENA region.

Milestones:

  • Appoint a high-level official to lead the implementation process of the initiative
  • Set up a multi-stakeholder group to oversee the initiative implementation
  • Develop an action plan to implement the initiative
  • Publish a report on extractive industries in accordance with the standards of the initiative and based on the principles of open data
  • Make a demand to join the initiative

Responsible institution: Ministry in charge with Energy and Mines

Supporting institution(s): Natural Resources Governance Institute

Start date: June 2016        End date: August 2018

Context and Objectives

Oil and gas exploration and exploitation attracts 60 per cent of the foreign direct investments [1] in Tunisia. Extraction mainly takes place in the interior regions of Tunisia that have lower development, informal economies and high levels of unemployment compared to the coastal areas. While the extractive industry is seen as the only opportunity in the region, it has been historically notorious for its corruption. [2] Individuals closely associated with the former regime of the ousted President Ben Ali were reported abusing the laws and regulations to give exploration permits in exchange for bribes. [3] This discontent was one of the main driving forces of the 2011 revolution. [4] Despite the importance of the sector, to date there is little publicly available information about the profits made by gas exploitation.

In 2015 CSOs created a movement called “Winou el petrole?” (Where is the Oil?) to raise awareness about the lack of transparency in extractive industries in Tunisia. High visibility of the issue led to public protests in the interior regions demanding employment and development opportunities from the extractive sector. The government responded by publishing numbers about received profits on oil and gas, but the credibility of these numbers was questioned by the public. Discontent related to the operation of the extractive sector is a continuous problem, often resulting in blockages of exploitation works, closing the railway and the roads.

Joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) could be a major step. The transparency measures demanded by EITI standards, including the publication and independent verification of profits received, could bring more openness and accountability of the extractive sector in Tunisia.

With this commitment the government aims to start the preparatory process for joining the EITI. The commitment contains several concrete milestones for Tunisia to attain EITI candidature status. This commitment is relevant to access to information as it will lead to the disclosure of information on production volumes and finances of Tunisia’s extractive sector. It is also relevant to civic participation as it creates a multi-stakeholder group that could ensure the participation of CSOs in the formulation of EITI policies.

If fully implemented, this commitment could have a moderate potential impact. It will complete the necessary preparatory steps for Tunisia’s application to the EITI as a candidate country. Becoming EITI compliant is a longer process that requires completion of further steps, however, this commitment entails carrying out essential pre-requisite work. According to the National Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), this is a major commitment for the government that could bring transparency to the opaque but critical sector of the country’s economy. [5] It would also send a strong message to other economic sectors.

Completion

The commitment has had limited progress. Out of the five activities, only the first one has been achieved, which is the appointment of the high-level official. Frequent changes of the Minister of Energy and Mines has contributed to the lack of progress on this commitment.

EITI procedures involve the appointment of champions (political actors) and a project coordinator. Tunisia engaged on the EITI commitment in June 2016, when the Minister of Energy and Mines, Mongi Marzouk, and the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ameur Laarayedh, were designated as champions for the EITI. In August 2016 Marzouk was replaced by Hela Cheikhrouhou and on September 2017, she was replaced by Khaled Kaddour. The project coordinator also changed three times. Since June 2016, three different focal points have led the project.

However, the major roadblock has been the formation of the multi-stakeholder group that is supposed to agree on the action plan and guarantee the voice and participation of civil society. In early 2017, the Tunisian Minister of Energy and Mines appointed the Tunisian Quartet [6] as the CSO representative. This was heavily contested by CSOs as they claimed that the quartet does not represent civil society and cited a conflict of interest. Indeed, the head of UTICA (part of the quartet) and multiple other board members are chairs of the holdings that operate in the oil and gas field [7]. To resolve this issue, the NRGI facilitated a discussion between major active CSOs and youth-led CSOs and the ministry. The result was the following:

  • Elections were expected to be held to elect members that would represent civil society in the committee. The network of Publish What You Pay Tunisia, and I Watch, the Tunisian chapter of Transparency International, would participate in these elections.
  • The elections would be supervised by the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Authority.
  • A new category of “National Organizations” would be created in the committee to include the quartet.

Although Tunisia has seen a boom in CSO numbers, largely due to the injection of aid money after the revolution, the notion of civil society involvement in decision making is still very recent and CSOs still lack experience and capabilities. Few meaningful civil society groups exist and some classical historical CSOs tend to be polarized, either close to the private sector establishment (as UTICA) or to the administration and government entities (such as UGTT). Therefore, the process of selecting CSOs to the board is sensitive. Selected CSOs need to meet the criteria of representation and technical knowledge while avoiding conflicts of interest.

Next Steps

Joining the EITI is the major commitment of this action plan, and it should be prioritized on the political agenda both by the executive and legislative branches.

The IRM researcher suggests carrying this commitment forward in the next plan with the following recommendations:

  • The Ministry of Energy and Mines should maintain a stable focal point to lead the process and ensure continuity
  • Elections for the committee should take place for the plan to be carried forward. Ensure there are no conflicts of interest (NGOs members or funders should not be involved or sponsored by oil and gas companies)
  • Broaden the base of CSOs to include organizations with anti-corruption profiles, such as I Watch (the chapter of Transparency International in Tunisia), Al Bawsala (a national watchdog of the parliament and government), le Forum Tunisien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux (a national CSO that monitors social movements in Tunisia), and l’Observatoire Tunisien de l’Economie (a national CSO that publishes insights and reports on the Tunisian economy)
  • To lead to a major transformation EITI measures need to be supported by a robust legal framework. The current legal framework could be revised to include the following:
    • Publish the data in an open data and exploitable format
    • Ensure stakeholders participating in the extractive industry can be held accountable under Tunisian laws in case of fraud, whether government organizations or exploration and extraction firms
[1] The Unfinished Revolution Bringing Opportunity, Good Jobs And Greater Wealth To All Tunisians
[5] Interview with Wissem Heni, Natural Resource Governance Institute, Tunis, 26 May 2018.
[6] Composed of The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), The Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. A coalition that led the national dialogue of 2013/2014 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2016.
[7] Groupe Bouchamaoui, the head of UTICA is Wided Bouchamaoui

Commitments

  1. Right to Information

    TN0036, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Open Data Framework

    TN0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Access to Geographic Information

    TN0038, 2018, E-Government

  4. Open Transport Data

    TN0039, 2018, E-Government

  5. Improve Water Resource Governance

    TN0040, 2018, E-Government

  6. Join EITI

    TN0041, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  7. Open Contracting in Hydrocarbons

    TN0042, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  8. Anti-Corruption Framework

    TN0043, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  9. Participatory Budgeting

    TN0044, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  10. Youth Participation

    TN0045, 2018, Marginalized Communities

  11. Implement Initiatives to Apply the OGP at the Local Level

    TN0046, 2018, E-Government

  12. Online Administrative Services

    TN0047, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. Access to Civil Service

    TN0048, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. Joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative "EITI"

    TN0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  15. Modernizing the Regulatory Framework to Enforce The Right To Access to Information

    TN0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. The Completion of the Legal and Regulatory Framework of Open Data at the National Level

    TN0023, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Improve the Transparency and Local Gov Openness

    TN0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance the Transparency in the Cultural Sector : “Open Culture”

    TN0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance the Transparency in the Environment and Sustainable Development Sector

    TN0026, 2016, Aid

  20. Enhancing Transparency in the Transport Sector

    TN0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promoting Financial and Fiscal Transparency

    TN0028, 2016, Fiscal Openness

  22. Elaborating a Legal Framework for Citizen’S Petitions

    TN0029, 2016, Capacity Building

  23. Developing an Integrated Electronic Civil Petition and Corruption Reporting Platform

    TN0030, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  24. Developing New Mechanisms to Promote Interaction with the Youth and Enable Them to Pursue Dialogue About Public Policies

    TN0031, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Adopting the Corporate Governance Referential on the Sectoral Level

    TN0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  26. Developing Mobile Applications Which Could Be Downloaded on the Mobile Phone to Reinforce Transparency of Government Activities and Participatory Approach

    TN0033, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Enhancing Access to the Archive

    TN0034, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. The Development of an Electronic Mechanism to Ensure Transparency of Public Servants Recruitment

    TN0035, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Strengthening Legal Framework for Corruption Fight

    TN0001, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  30. Developing an Integrated Electronic Civil Petition and Corruption Reporting Platform

    TN0002, 2014, E-Government

  31. Publishing an Annual Report on Audit Activities in Public Sector

    TN0003, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  32. Review of the Legal Framework of Personal Data Protection and Ensuring Conformity with Article 24 of Tunisian Constitution

    TN0004, 2014, Human Rights

  33. Developing an Open Data Portal

    TN0005, 2014, Infrastructure & Transport

  34. Preparing a National Corporate Governance Repository

    TN0006, 2014, E-Government

  35. Establishing a Legal Framework That Regulates Communication and Interaction Within Public Sector and Between Public Structures and Citizens with Usage of ICT

    TN0007, 2014, E-Government

  36. Simplifying Administrative Procedures

    TN0008, 2014, E-Government

  37. Develop a Number of Administrative Services On-Line

    TN0009, 2014, E-Government

  38. Enhancing People Participation in the Decision-Making Process

    TN0010, 2014, E-Government

  39. Capacity-Building of Civil Servants and Citizens in the Area of Open Governance

    TN0011, 2014, Capacity Building

  40. Creation of a Structure Specialized in Training in the Governance Area

    TN0012, 2014, Capacity Building

  41. Publication of Budget Reports

    TN0013, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  42. Development of the Open Budget System

    TN0014, 2014, Fiscal Openness

  43. Use of the Data Extracted from the Application Dedicated to Budget Management (Adeb) in Public Sector

    TN0015, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  44. Publication of Reports Related to Attribution and Execution of Public Procurement and Audit Results

    TN0016, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  45. Publication of Recommandations Included in Audit Reports of Public Procurement

    TN0017, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  46. Development of an "Open Data" Platform Dedicated to Information Dealing with Oil and Mine Sector Investment

    TN0018, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  47. Improve Transparency in the Area of Infrastructure Projects

    TN0019, 2014, Infrastructure & Transport

  48. Devoting Transparency in the Environment Field

    TN0020, 2014, E-Government

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