EBRD Announces Proposal to Modify Public Information Policy

1 November 2002

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development Bank Oct. 23 proposed revisions to its Public Information Policy and invited public comment by Dec. 6.

At the same time, the EBRD requested public reactions to an update of its policies on environmental reviews.

Further, the EBRD unveiled a proposal for an “Independent Recourse Mechanism.” This would provide “a process for people adversely affected by EBRD-financed projects to appeal to the EBRD.”

The proposals are posted on the EBRD home page: http://www.ebrd.org.

As regards its Public Information Policy, the EBRD addresses two issues: the development of new Country Strategies and the translation of EBRD documents into more languages.

The EBRD sets out some new procedures to gain more public input on Country Strategies under review, but stops short of agreeing to release draft Country Strategies, a change nongovernmental organizations have suggested.

To release such drafts, the Bank says, “…would lengthen the gestation period by as much as 10 weeks.” The Bank continued, “This would make the entire process unduly protracted and more time-consuming for Resident Offices and Country Teams, especially given that the Bank is required to present a new strategy for each country on operations on a biennial basis.”

As an alternative, the EBRD said, it would “strengthen the current procedures.” In addition to posting a schedule of impending strategy reviews on the bank’s web site, the EBRD is proposing that prior to commencing the preliminary work on new strategies it “actively invite comment within a clearly established time frame, so as to ensure that such comment can be communicated to the Bank in sufficient time for comments to be given due account in developing the draft Country Strategy.”

The comments, the Bank noted, “would be on the basis of the existing Country Strategy, already available on the web site, and an accompanying management note outlining the main areas to be focused upon in the Review.”

The Bank said a period of eight weeks would be allotted for such comments “so as to ensure that any comment received would be available to the team at least two weeks prior to submission of the Strategy to the Executive Committee.” The drafting team would summarize the comments in an addendum that would go to the committee along with the draft strategy. The addendum would be made public after approval of the strategy.

Concerning translation, the proposal outlines a one year “pilot project” a main feature of which would be the translation of each approved Country Strategy into the relevant official national language. The Bank’s proposal goes on to discuss some of the specifics, especially with regard to three countries that have more than one official national language. The proposal explains that in Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Krygyz Republic, where Russian is one of the official languages, the translation will be into Russian, but not the other languages. The Bank now operates in four languages: English, French, German and Russian.

The Bank said it considered translating more documents, such as Sector Policies, Project Summary Documents and Environmental Impact Assessments. Translation of these, however, “presents complex organizational and logistical problems, and consequently this is not proposed.” The proposal does not elaborate on these, or on the cost of translation, which is also cited as a restraining factor.

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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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