Asian Development Bank Begins Disclosure Policy Review

1 July 2003


The Asian Development Bank has kicked off its review of the ADB information disclosure policy, appointing a steering committee to manage the effort.

The five-person steering committee, composed of senior-level Bank officials, which held a closed meeting May 29, announced plans to “bear in mind the views of all stakeholders. The ADB opening a new web page to provide an update on developments: http://ww.adb.org/Disclosure/default.asp

Chairing the committee is Robert Salamon, Principal Director, Office of External Relations. The other steering committee members are Bindu Lohani, ADB Secretary; Arthur Mitchell, General Counsel; Geert van der Linden, Special Advisor to the President; and Rajat Nag, Director General, Mekong Regional Department.

“The Steering Committee is now assessing the policy’s implementation to date, and examining the disclosure practices of ADB’s comparator organizations, in particular the other regional development banks and international financial institutions,” according to the initial announcement from the Bank.

The Bank also said, “ADB recognizes that openness and accountability are essential to ensure the effectiveness of its operations and the support of shareholders. Openness and accountability also promote effective local participation in decision-making, improving project implementation, and sustainability.”

The ADB’s Policy on Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information has been in effect since Jan. 1, 1995. This Spring, the Bank revised Section 52 of the Operations Manual, which explains what the existing policy is and how it is administered.

Bank Information Center Urges More Disclosure

The Washington-based Bank Information Center has called for an open review process and made a variety of broad substantive suggestions about a new ADB disclosure policy.

In its paper on substance, BIC pointed first to “the secrecy surrounding the activities of the governing bodies of the multilateral development Banks,” including the ADB. The ADB also was asked to consider how to improve consultations outside the bank, asking such questions as, “How can the ADB effectively distribute draft policies and strategies to stakeholders in order to solicit comment.” The BIC comments can be found on the website of the Bank Information Center.

The development of projects should include constructive engagement of affected communities while a project is under consideration, BIC wrote. “Therefore, civil society organizations will want to discuss the means by which the ADB notifies external parties that a given project is under consideration, the timing of that notification, and he nature of the information that is made available as project preparation evolves.”

More information also should be revealed during project implementation, the BIC paper stated.

The transparency of bank activities involving financial intermediaries also should be improved, BIC said.

A process for making information requests and provision for an independent review of refusals also should be added to the ADB policies, according to BIC.

The ADB also should use its review as a time to address a translation policy suitable for a diverse region, BIC advised. Further, provision for electronic access should include an improved web site, BIC said, and steps should be taken to beef up in-country access to information.

Earlier, BIC made suggestions on the process for revamping the bank’s disclosure policy. Those comments are available at the Bank Information Center.

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).
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