IDB Extends Comment Period on New Disclosure Policy

1 April 2003

Evidence of the collaboration between development policy NGOs and FOIA-oriented groups is seen in letters sent to the Inter-American Development Bank about its proposed new information disclosure policy.

The IDB has extended the comment period until April 15. A series of consultations also are being planned.

Extensive comments were generated by the Bank Information Center. Also sending in a letter was Article 19, which zeroed in on “the system of exceptions, the need for process guarantees and the lack of an independent review mechanism.

BIC’s detailed comments describe where the IDB falls short of the standards at other development banks and calls for strengthening information dissemination activities.

Concerning policy and strategy documents, BIC finds the IDB to compare unfavorably to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank. Regarding the disclosure of environmental assessments, BIC says the IDB will permit “unwarranted waivers.” EIAs should be disclosed 120 days before board approval, BIC adds, also suggesting release of a summary that identifies environmental and social policy issues and the process through which they will be addressed.

In detailed BIC comments on the project cycle, various suggestions are made to insure the release of factual and technical documents in a timely way. The IDB is encouraged to release board reports for private sector operations, something the Asian Development Bank does. Another recommendation is for the IDB to release monitoring reports for specific projects, following the lead of the EBRD.

The transparency of the independent investigation mechanism is “far behind” that of comparable mechanisms at other development banks, the BIC letter states.

The IDB also should disclose the board’s monthly schedule and summaries of the board discussions, writes BIC. Also, BIC says, better procedures and standards need to be established for handling requests for information, including a right of appeal.

In a concluding sentence, BIC acknowledges that the IDP proposal contains improvements. “However, in a number of important respects, the draft policy lacks coherence and clarity and fails to embrace standards that are common in other MDBs.”

By Toby McIntosh

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

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).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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