The 2021 EITI Armenia Annual Conference took place on 23 July

23.07.21
The 2021 EITI Armenia Annual Conference took place on 23 July

The Conference on Presentation of the EITI Armenia National Report 2019 and the Beneficial Ownership Electronic Declaration System took place at Armenia Marriott Hotel in Yerevan on 23 July 2021.

The conference was attended by some 100 representatives of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, mining companies, civil society, the EITI International Secretariat and international partner organisations.  The conference was also live-streamed via the Zoom platform, enabling everyone interested to follow and participate in the Conference remotely.

The conference comprised two parts, with a thematic panel discussion at the end of each.

The first part of the conference presented the Beneficial Ownership Electronic Declaration System, its role and significance in terms of transparency and control over the mining sector.

The second part of the conference was devoted to presenting the information EITI Armenia 3rd  National Report 2019. Grant Thornton CJSC, the Independent Administrator, noted to the audience the companies holding a mining permit in Armenia in 2019, the volume of the annual production and export of the sector, the revenues from the industry to the National Budget, their redistribution, and the contribution of the sector in the economy of the RA.

Suren Grigoryan, Deputy Minister of Justice of the RA made welcoming remarks at the opening of the conference, stating that, to the Ministry of Justice, the introduction of the institute of disclosure of beneficial ownership was one of the important actions of the Anti-Corruption strategy, for which extensive legislative changes were made. Suren Grigoryan noted that the introduction of an electronic declaration system for beneficial ownership of legal entities was based on the initial program of disclosure of beneficial owners of the mining companies and the experience gained during its operation.

The next official to make welcoming remarks was Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the RA. According to her, due to the introduction of EITI, the mining industry had become a pioneer of reforms. She spoke about the highest rating awarded to Armenia by the EITI Board for EITI implementation. Lilia Shushanyan said it proved that the goals set three years ago had been fulfilled.

The participants were also welcomed by Mark Burnett, Senior Advisor for Asia Team at EITI International Secretariat. He emphasised that that Armenia was always considered to be the country with the best experience in implementing the EITI. This result had been achieved due to the earnest work and continuous efforts of the Armenian side. The existing online reporting portal, publication of the mining contracts and the electronic declaration system for beneficial ownership provide the best opportunities for Armenia to become a country that has adopted the practice of systematic disclosures.

Vigen Sargsyan, representative of the World Bank Armenia Office emphasised specifically the possibilities of excluding “false information” due to the implementation of the EITI, as well as the WBʼs willingness to continue supporting the process. 

Lusine Tovmasyan, Head, EITI Armenia Secretariat, and Ani Varderesyan, expert, Center for Legislative Development and Legal Research, RA Ministry of Justice, presented the process of disclosure of beneficial owners which started in 2017 and the results achieved, as well as the new legal regulations  adopted by the National Assembly in June 2021, expanding and reforming the process of beneficial ownership disclosures.

Vahagn Mkhitaryan and Lusine Isakova from VXSoft presented the beneficial ownership electronic declaration system through which the companies have been submitting e-declarations on the beneficial owners since March 2021. The creators of the system also told about the capabilities of the electronic system to automatically check the accuracy of some data.

Ani Varderesyan, expert, Center for Legislative Development and Legal Research, RA Ministry of Justice, Peter Lowe, representative of the OpenOwnership global beneficial ownership register, Shushan Doydoyan, President of Freedom of Information Center of Armenia, and Mkrtich Karapetyan, a Civilnet investigative journalist, participated in the first panel discussion of the conference. The topic of the panel was “Disclosure of Beneficial Owners as an Anti-Corruption Tool ‒ Opportunities and Challenges”.During the second part of the conference, the team of Grant Thornton Auditing Company which prepared Armeniaʼs 3rd National Report 2019, briefly described the type of information on the metal mining industry of Armenia the readers can find in the EITI National Report. The recommendations of the Independent Administrator on improving the process of compiling the future  reports and publishing data were presented. 

The second panel discussion was attended by Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the RA, member of the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), Mark Burnett, Senior Advisor for Eurasia at EITI, Oleg Dulgaryan, President of “Community Consolidation and Support Center” NGO, MSG member, Viktoria Burnazyan, Expert at “EcoLur” Informational NGO, MSG alternate member, and Narine Tadevosyan, World Bank Mining Governance Consultant. The topic of the second panel was “Extractive Sector Transparency as an Important Prerequisite for Good Governance”.

The preparation of the Third National Report of EITI Armenia and the creation of the Beneficial Ownership Electronic Declaration System were made possible by the support of the World Bank “Support to Armenia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative” Grant Project.