AfDB Aims for Fast Action on Draft Disclosure Policy

28 April 2011

The African Development Bank has developed a draft disclosure policy and appears to be on a fast-track to adopt it, without a consultation period.

The Global Transparency Initiative April 27 urged the Bank to establish a public consultation process for a yet-unreleased proposal. The Board was scheduled to discuss the policy April 29 and possibly approve it as soon as May 25, according to persons informed about the plans.

GTI called for the Bank to release the draft, establish a public comment period and hold consultations.

The proposed policy was provided to FreedomInfo.org by unofficial sources.

Early reviews of the draft by transparency activists were critical of it. The Bank stresses that it is moving to a principle of “maximum disclosure,” but the draft policy includes far-reaching exemptions, they said. No draft reports or “documents pertaining to Board deliberations” would be disclosable. “Supervision reports” and other reports on project implementations would be off-limits.

The creation of an appeals mechanism was considered positive, although it lacks independence. A Board agenda and more about Board meetings should be provided, one activist observed.

GTI Sends Letter

The GTI letter to AfDB President Donald Kaberuka sought “seek assurances that the Bank will allow for adequate public consultation before adopting a new policy.” The nongovernmental organization advocates for more transparency at international institutions.

“This is one of the key policies that underpins civil society and other external engagement with the AfDB and it is essential that stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input into the development of the policy,” GTI wrote. “We note that other MDBs – including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank – undertook extensive consultations when revising their information disclosure policies in recent years.”

 “What we understand of the current proposed process gives us some concern. To date, the Bank has asked for public comments on what a policy should look like, but has not issued a proposed policy.”

“The GTI proposes that the Bank schedule a 60?day public comment period on the proposed draft. The draft should be online throughout this period and easy to access. The AfDB should also make provision for face?to?face consultations with civil society on the draft policy, including during the Lisbon annual meetings in early June. After the 60?day comment period, AfDB should release a revised draft along with a matrix of comments received and how the comments were or were not incorporated. The revised draft should then be made available for 30 days for public comment before it is sent to the Board for final approval.”

 GTI members are: Institute for Democracy in Africa, South Africa; Bank Information Center, USA; Article XIX, London; Access to Information Network, Philippines; Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente, Argentina; Freedominfo, USA; Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada; Fundar, Center for Analysis and Research, Mexico; CEE BankWatch Network, Czech Republic.

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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).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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