Vietnam pledged to participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2015 as a way to improve the efficiency of mineral resource governance and ensure a harmonized benefit to people, enterprises and the State. Local Vietnam News reported Wednesday, quoting information released at a conference on extractive industry governance jointly held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), and the National Assembly\'s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment. Domestic and international participants to the conference shared a view that the initiative is a useful tool for Vietnam to better manage natural resources and ensure the extractive industries\' active and effective contributions to the national development, said the report. According to VCCI, in Vietnam, since 2000, the industries have contributed 11 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 25 percent of the State budget every year, and created around 430,000 jobs. However, the lack of transparency and accountability in industry governance has resulted in the low economic efficiency of the sector, serious social and environmental impacts, and unequal benefit sharing, said VCCI chairman Vu Tien Loc at the conference. According to Andy Baker, chief representative of Oxfam in Vietnam, more than 60 percent of the world\'s poorest people are living in the countries that were rich in natural resources. A study of the organization also shows that the more a country depends on mineral exploitation, the higher the poverty rate will be. Besides, without proper management, the extractive industries would cause deforestation, destroy the biodiversity and pollute the soil and water environment. Experts said that admission to the EITI could help Vietnam limit losses to state budget, improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese extractive industry, prevent corruption and minimize benefit conflicts. According to MNRE, as of May 2013, central authorities have granted more than 500 licenses for mineral exploitation projects while provinces and cities issued 4,200 such licenses. Baker from Oxfam suggested that Vietnam comply with some principles when building management policies such as ensuring transparency in the decision-making process and respecting the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of communities affected by the exploitation. The EITI, launched by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002, is based on a mechanism that mining companies must make comprehensive reports on expenditure for governments, while governments must publicize the revenue it receives from the companies. As of May 2013, there are 39 countries taking part in the initiative.