Implementation of Peruvian Law Faulted by World Bank

14 March 2013

Implementation of the 10-year-old Peruvian Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (LTAIP) has been hampered by an “inefficient” implementation process, according to a World Bank study which suggests that it may be time for a new oversight structure.

Peru was one of eight countries examined closely as part of a larger World Bank report on implementation issues surrounding right to information laws. (See previous Freedom of Information report.)

“Efforts made by different actors to implement this law remain isolated and have led only to partial results,” according to conclusions of the study which was prepared by Roberto Pereira Chumbe, a Peruvian law professor, under the guidance of Bank staff members Marcos Mendiburu, Lisa Bhansali, and Anupama Dokeniy.

Three factors contribute to this situation, the report’s summary conclusions say:

–       The first is the lack of political will to effectively implement the LTAIP, reflected in a kind of bureaucratization of the law—an attempt to comply in a literal sense with the law’s basic contents but not necessarily guarantee maximum ATI and transparency of public entities. Examples of this lack of political will include the release of publications with budget or contract information within legal time limits but cloaked in administrative language, high levels of noncompliance by local governments in submitting information for the PCM’s annual reports, and legal proceedings against national government entities.

–       Second, the lack of a professional civil service or career public servants has a negative impact on the sustainability of efforts to implement the LTAIP. The high turnover of public officials causes delays and difficulties in the implementation process.

–       Finally, the institutional design for the implementation and oversight of compliance with the LTAIP is a diffuse model that places responsibility for these tasks on several public officials and entities, a model which seemed the most reasonable at the time the LTAIP was adopted (given the political and institutional circumstances), but which is insufficient today.

The report also notes “an absence of strong institutional incentives for a functioning model (such as linking compliance with transparency indicators to budget allocation).”

These observations “point to the need to promote discussion about the creation of a specialized, independent institution with authority over all of the entities subject to the LTAIP,” according to the report, saying this discussion should build on the specifics of the Peruvian experience.

Civil society organizations could do more to promote and utilize the law, the report suggests.

“Despite the obstacles mentioned,” the report says, “important lessons” about implementation have been learned in Peru.

As demonstrated each year at the National Conference on Access to Public Information, there is accumulated experience in several government sectors in this area, and CSOs have made significant contributions. The beginning of the new government administration offers the best opportunity for promoting some of the pending reforms, including a new institutional model for implementation and compliance with the LTAIP to strengthen access to public information and government transparency.

The right of access to public information was first recognized in Peru in the 1993 Constitution, but it was not written into law until Aug. 3, 2002. The law went into effect January 2003.

The 50-page, footnoted report details the origins and operation of the law.

In looking the law’s overall effect, the report says:

Almost eight years after LTAIP went into effect, citizens have more possibilities for accessing public information. However, it is difficult to determine if they have more real access to public information. The problem lies in identifying information or tools to measure the level of access as well as the reliability of that information.

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