Joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative "EITI" (TN0021)
Action Plan: Tunisia Second National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Ministry in charge with Energy and Mines
Support Institution(s): NA
Policy AreasAnti-Corruption, Capacity Building, Extractive Industries, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery
Joining the extractive industries transparency initiative "EITI"
IRM Midterm Status Summary
1. Join the extractive industries transparency initiative "EITI"
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.
- 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  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.  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.  This discontent was one of the main driving forces of the 2011 revolution.  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.  It would also send a strong message to other economic sectors.
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  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 . 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.
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
Right to Information
TN0036, 2018, Capacity Building
Open Data Framework
TN0037, 2018, Capacity Building
Access to Geographic Information
TN0038, 2018, E-Government
Open Transport Data
TN0039, 2018, E-Government
Improve Water Resource Governance
TN0040, 2018, E-Government
TN0041, 2018, Anti-Corruption
Open Contracting in Hydrocarbons
TN0042, 2018, Anti-Corruption
TN0043, 2018, Anti-Corruption
TN0044, 2018, Anti-Corruption
TN0045, 2018, Marginalized Communities
Implement Initiatives to Apply the OGP at the Local Level
TN0046, 2018, E-Government
Online Administrative Services
TN0047, 2018, Capacity Building
Access to Civil Service
TN0048, 2018, Capacity Building
Joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative "EITI"
TN0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption
Modernizing the Regulatory Framework to Enforce The Right To Access to Information
TN0022, 2016, Capacity Building
The Completion of the Legal and Regulatory Framework of Open Data at the National Level
TN0023, 2016, Capacity Building
Improve the Transparency and Local Gov Openness
TN0024, 2016, Capacity Building
Enhance the Transparency in the Cultural Sector : “Open Culture”
TN0025, 2016, Capacity Building
Enhance the Transparency in the Environment and Sustainable Development Sector
TN0026, 2016, Aid
Enhancing Transparency in the Transport Sector
TN0027, 2016, Capacity Building
Promoting Financial and Fiscal Transparency
TN0028, 2016, Fiscal Openness
Elaborating a Legal Framework for Citizen’S Petitions
TN0029, 2016, Capacity Building
Developing an Integrated Electronic Civil Petition and Corruption Reporting Platform
TN0030, 2016, Anti-Corruption
Developing New Mechanisms to Promote Interaction with the Youth and Enable Them to Pursue Dialogue About Public Policies
TN0031, 2016, Capacity Building
Adopting the Corporate Governance Referential on the Sectoral Level
TN0032, 2016, Capacity Building
Developing Mobile Applications Which Could Be Downloaded on the Mobile Phone to Reinforce Transparency of Government Activities and Participatory Approach
TN0033, 2016, Capacity Building
Enhancing Access to the Archive
TN0034, 2016, Capacity Building
The Development of an Electronic Mechanism to Ensure Transparency of Public Servants Recruitment
TN0035, 2016, Capacity Building
Strengthening Legal Framework for Corruption Fight
TN0001, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Developing an Integrated Electronic Civil Petition and Corruption Reporting Platform
TN0002, 2014, E-Government
Publishing an Annual Report on Audit Activities in Public Sector
TN0003, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Review of the Legal Framework of Personal Data Protection and Ensuring Conformity with Article 24 of Tunisian Constitution
TN0004, 2014, Human Rights
Developing an Open Data Portal
TN0005, 2014, Infrastructure & Transport
Preparing a National Corporate Governance Repository
TN0006, 2014, E-Government
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
Simplifying Administrative Procedures
TN0008, 2014, E-Government
Develop a Number of Administrative Services On-Line
TN0009, 2014, E-Government
Enhancing People Participation in the Decision-Making Process
TN0010, 2014, E-Government
Capacity-Building of Civil Servants and Citizens in the Area of Open Governance
TN0011, 2014, Capacity Building
Creation of a Structure Specialized in Training in the Governance Area
TN0012, 2014, Capacity Building
Publication of Budget Reports
TN0013, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Development of the Open Budget System
TN0014, 2014, Fiscal Openness
Use of the Data Extracted from the Application Dedicated to Budget Management (Adeb) in Public Sector
TN0015, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Publication of Reports Related to Attribution and Execution of Public Procurement and Audit Results
TN0016, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Publication of Recommandations Included in Audit Reports of Public Procurement
TN0017, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Development of an "Open Data" Platform Dedicated to Information Dealing with Oil and Mine Sector Investment
TN0018, 2014, Anti-Corruption
Improve Transparency in the Area of Infrastructure Projects
TN0019, 2014, Infrastructure & Transport
Devoting Transparency in the Environment Field
TN0020, 2014, E-Government