World Bank Consultation Plan Slow Developing

8 April 2009

Weeks after announcing plans for consultations on a proposed new disclosure policy, the World Bank April 6 provided dates for the first nine of 30 planned world-wide consultations sessions, giving a week’s notice for the first one.

The first meeting is planned for April 13 in Russia, followed by April 14 sessions in Indonesia and The Philippines.

The Bank has said the consultation comment period will end on May 8. It is seeking comment on an “approach paper” that would revise its disclosure policy. 

The delay in announcing where and when the sessions would be held, and the lack of time for potential participants to prepare was criticized recently by the Bank Information Center, a Washington, D.C., nongovernmental organization.

The Bank has said the consultation comment period will end on May 8. It is seeking comment on an “approach paper” that would revise its disclosure policy.

The Bank’s handling of consultations was criticized in an April 1 letter to World Bank official Peter Harrold by BIC Policy Director Bruce Jenkins.

Jenkins cited “growing concerns with the process for reviewing the World Bank’s Policy on Disclosure of Information.”

 BIC said there should be at least three weeks prior notice to civil society actors in countries where consultations will be held “to allow them to prepare, study the approach paper, and develop thoughtful positions. He noted that no budget has been allocated to pay travel costs to the consultations, “potentially excluding community organizations which do not reside in capital cities.”

 The May 8 closing date was termed premature as was the target date of July for Board action. The schedule, Jenkins wrote “could lead to a rushed drafting process, raising the risk that stakeholder input may not be adequately considered. “

 The Bank has yet to commit to releasing a final draft policy after the comment period is finished. BIC asked that it be simultaneously disclosed to the public as it is sent to the Board for final consideration.

Consultations in Flux

The Bank’s schedule lists 25 countries, but only 9 specific dates, and does not include times or cities. Ten countries are listed for the Africa portion of the consultations, with the dates listed as TBD. There are other indications that plans are in flux. For some countries, a date is apparently indicated by the name of the country is followed by (proposed). A few entries are labeled TBC suggesting that confirmation is pending.

April 25 is given as the date for a consultation in Washington, DC, coinciding with the annual spring IMF-World Bank meetings.

Other apparently definite dates are April 13 for Russia, and April 14 for the Philippines and Indonesia. On April 16 a session is planned in India, and on April 17 a session is scheduled for Sri Lanka. April 21 will see consultations in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and April 28 is the date for a meeting in Peru.

By Toby McIntosh

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Filed under: 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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