The situation in the EITI will hamper borrowing from MFIs - expert

If Azerbaijan  achieves restoration of full membership in the International Transparency Initiative in the extractive industry (EITI),  Baku will face problems in getting loans from international financial organizations, said Gubad Ibadoglu the coordinator of the NGO Coalition on the initiative of transparency in extractive industries in an interview with the program Cetin Sual (Difficult Question.) The question of the future fate of Azerbaijan in EITI will be considered on 25 October meeting of the Board of the Organization in Astana. In April last year, Azerbaijan has been reduced to the status of a candidate country because of the deteriorating conditions for NGO activities, arrests of activists, including members of the local coalition for transparency. To resolve the problems, the coalition appealed to Ilham Aliyev with request to fulfill proposals of EITI. But so response came from the authorities, the expert said.

In the spring of this year there has been a kind of process  of solutions the problems of the NGO-coalition members, but the  taken steps were not consistent and systematic, and problems  of civil society issues have not been resolved. "Thus, the grant agreement and the members of the coalition were not registered by Ministry of Justice, so the NGOs cannot use the funds in their bank accounts. Grants of the two organizations were written off against tax debts, six NGOs cannot work because of the tax penalties," continued Ibadoglu.

Two coalition members, a member of the Presidium of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Asif Yusifli and deputy chairman of APFP Fuad Gahramanli, are in detention. In addition,  the criminal case against another coalition member Ogtay Gyulalyev has not been terminated, and he cannot leave the country. Currently, there are 150 civil society activists in coalition. However, due to lack of funding, many projects have been suspended. The Coalition is limited to holding meetings, and cannot be monitored and public debate.

If the remaining period of the situation does not change for the better, then Azerbaijan will offer a new correctional program. Otherwise, a country may  be excluded from the EITI. In both cases, the country will face problems in obtaining loans from World Bank, IMF, EBRD and others. This can further complicate the situation in the country and make it difficult to attract foreign investment, he said. -06D--

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