Bulgan Batdorj MASc candidate in Mining Engineering // May 20, 2015
From my trip to Mongolia, I have found the answer to that hard question of whether EITI is needed in Mongolia or anywhere else. The answer was yes, EITI is a one of a foundation block for the transparency, accountability and good governance. It was a piece of a big jigsaw puzzle, that is exactly why without the other matching pieces, it did not make sense.
It was rather discouraging to see the many defficiencies of applied EITI in Mongolia. On the good note, all of these defects were brought up by the representatives of civil society, professional association, media and international organisations in Mongolia. Their critics were that EITI was not easily accessible by media, civil society organisations and public (mind you, us graduate students did not fully get our heads around it) because of its heavy numerical technical reports. Secondly, the reports are not timely as they are produced almost a year and a half later. This flaw of the EITI does not make it any attractive to media and civil society organistaions to make the time to dig a deep in this ever-changing world of today. Thirdly, because most of the EITI countries are not bearing the financial responsibilities, the ownership is not there, meaning an international initiative funded by foreign money. This lack of ownership leads to a lack of accountability. Many countries are even lagging behind the reporting deadlines or the reporting quality is not up to the standard (the standard that could make a difference to that certain country). We could identify these shortcomings in the many countries that we have worked on.
On the other hand, the EITI did make a sense, it was that puzzle which was right, which could change the color of the whole picture. This is exactly why our presentations were well received and well attended in Mongolia while the highly controversial Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi discussions were taking place live. The civil society organisations, media, professional associations, the mining ministry and donor organisations took their valuable time to listen to our research findings. Each organisations have been generous with their praise and critics. They even had feisty discussions of the future, present and past mistakes and successes of EITI in Mongolia. One of the comments was that Mongolia needed other benchmark countries to improve the quality of its implementation. The others demanded the CSO and media to play their role in advocating transparency to the public and demanding accountability from the government and some critiqued the leadership of the EITI secretariat. In general, all were actively engaged in improving and knowing more of EITI.
This is an important year for EITI in Mongolia. Once the EITI law is approved, the secretariat will have bigger resources to deliver on the much needed public advocacy of EITI and will get more opportunity to communicate to the general public the successes that they built. Also, the year is waiting Ms. Claire Short’s visit in July and validation report in October to come. These milestone events are just a start of whole new Mongolian EITI wave.