Bank Proposal Called Too Broad

28 May 2009

The Bank has proposed to follow the principle that most documents should be disclosed, subject to stated exceptions, but the GTI called the suggested exemptions “overly-broad.”

“Most of the exceptions proposed in Section C of the Approach Paper do not refer to specific interests that might be harmed. Instead, they describe either a category of documents (e.g., Board records or being part of the external or internal deliberative process) or a process (being classified as `official use only’ or being subject to third party consent),” according to the GTI comments.

“We call on the Bank to revise the proposed exceptions to reflect a true `harm test.’”

GTI continued, “Furthermore, the policy should make it clear that exceptions only apply to specific information the disclosure of which would lead to harm. Instead of rendering whole documents off limits, exceptions apply only to specific information contained in documents, which may then be redacted and the rest of the document released. Together, these problems seriously undermine the idea of a presumption of disclosure.”

Among other things, the GTI objected to giving third parties, such as contractors and member countries, “a veto over release of information they have provided to the Bank.”

The GTI model policy offers a series of exemptions from disclosure.

GTI also noted that certain key aspects of a future disclosure picture are murky because the Board of Executive Directors is still studying key issues. These include such GTI requests as access to materials sent to it for consideration, the so-called “draft” documents that include Bank staff’s recommendations for action.

Regarding other elements of the proposals in the “approach paper,” the GTI found a “lack of detail” concerning plans to process requests for information and criticized the lack of an independent appeals body. In its proposed model policy, GTI suggested that the Bank’s existing Independent Review Panel could play that role.

In addition, the GTI urged the Bank to translate more materials, strengthen the Bank’s Public Information Centers, and actively promoting access to information.

 

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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