ADB Critics in India, Bangladesh Protest ADB Policies, Disclosure Proposal

21 July 2004


Critics of the Asian Development Bank’s Proposed Disclosure Policy staged a walk-out of the ADB’s consultation in Bangalore, India, July 16, and issued a sharply critical statement in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The walk-out in Bangalore by civil society representatives came after they made a statement criticizing the procedures of the consultations as not representative, poorly planned and “superficial.” The statement also criticized the draft policy on which the Bank is now holding a series of consultations.

“Any process of information ‘disclosure’ that does not resultant meaningful participation by project affected people and perceptible change in ADB’s institutional behaviour towards accountability and responsiveness to community concerns, is a futile exercise. It is also clear to us that ADB’s ‘disclosure’ of information has no bearing on its institutional decision making processes,” according to the statement signed by M. N. Kotenagabhusan and 8 other persons and groups.

In the Bangalore consultation, the Bangladesh Civil Society Working Group stressed problems with ADB policies overall and critiqued the proposed ADB Public Information Policy.

Regarding disclosure, the group specifically urged the bank to release project and program documents and to improve public participation. The same level of transparency should apply to private sector and public sector projects, the coalition said. All communications between the bank and the government should be revealed, the statement said. It also urged an appeals mechanism to review disclosure policy decisions.

The group’s broader 16 points blame ADB policies for having “systematically spawned and promoted poverty.”

“This process of pauperization has been exacerbated by the manner in which the affected communities have been stripped of their voice in the decision-making process,” the group stated. The new disclosure policy, according to the group, “… gives inadequate space or authority to affected stakeholders to determine whether a project is appropriate in their communities.”

The statement stressed, “We fundamentally believe that citizens and their sovereign governments have the right and responsibility to engage in transparent and deliberative processes in order to determine national development policies.”

“The current policy regime, devoid of ownership and participation, has choked the development process,” according to the groups, which include Campaign for Popular Education, The Innovators, Coastal Development Partnership, LOKOJ, SEHD, ActionAid Bangladesh, VOICE, IED, BAPA and Uttaran.

The full statement, and another report on the Bangladesh consultation is available at the Bank Information Center web site.

By Toby J. McIntosh

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

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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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