GTI Makes Suggestions on ADB Draft Policy

10 January 2011

The second draft of the proposed Public Communications Policy by the Asian Development Bank still needs improvement, according to comments submitted by the Global Transparency Initiative.

While there have been come positive alterations, the regime of exceptions remains too narrow and the ADB needs to take more responsibility for ensuring access by affected people, according to the comments. GTI is an international organization that concentrates on transparency policy at international financial institutions.

GTI’s comments were prepared by Toby Mendel of Centre for Law and Democracy and Nepomuceno Malaluan of the Philippine Access to Information Network. 

GTI welcomed the ADB’s proposed establishment of an Independent Appeals Panel.

“The new draft Policy responds to some of our earlier recommendations, including by establishing an independent oversight mechanism,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “However, it has been five years since the last policy was adopted. Given the consistent calls for significant reform from civil society in the 12 countries where the ADB held consultations, we still expect further progress.”

The recommendations for improvements include:

  • The exception in favor of third party businesses should be limited to commercially sensitive information, and should not be allowed to be extended by confidentiality agreements.
  • The ‘internal deliberations’ exception should be clarified and background documents, such as facts and analysis of facts, should be excluded.
  • The public interest override in favour of disclosure should be mandatory and the power to refuse to disclose information in the public interest should be removed.
  • The ADB should commit to working jointly with project implementers and recipient governments to develop project communications strategies, rather than simply to assisting with their development.

The ADB’s proposal is part of its continuing consultations on the Public Communications Policy, last revised in 2005. (See previous Freedominfo.org report.)

The second draft ADB policy is available at: http://www.adb.org/PCP-Review/default.asp.

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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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