Mexico Failing to Disclose IFI Loan Material, Report Says

2 October 2015

The Mexican government “is failing to live up to its obligations” to disclose information about loans from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, according to a new report by a Mexican nongovernmental organization.

To reach this conclusion, Mariana González Armijo of Fundar Centro de Análisis e Investigación evaluated responses to test requests. She prepared a report, Development Loans in Mexico: A Transparency Assessment (Spanish version). Requests were directed at the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP, for its Spanish name) and also to the two international financial institutions most relied by Mexico, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

“Despite the existence of a clear legal framework, it is nearly impossible for citizens to obtain detailed information about the loans that Mexico negotiates with IFIs, which make up part of the country’s external public debt,” according to the report.

Test Requests Filed

“Our sample consisted of 29 loans—14 from the World Bank and 15 from the IDB—that were approved between the date on which the relevant bank’s access-to-information policy took effect and April 30, 2013,” the report explains. “ In total, we submitted 220 information requests: 147 to the Mexican government, 28 to the World Bank, and 45 to the IDB.”

The results summarized:

Of the 147 information requests directed to the SHCP and the 15 agencies in charge of loan execution, 51.7% of the responses referred us to the website of the relevant bank, despite the fact that the information in question was not actually available on the website; therefore, we classi?ed these responses as not having furnished the requested information. In 21.77% of the responses, the government stated that the information did not exist or that the entity was not in charge of the project in question, even though our request had been directed to the borrowing agency and the executors. In 19.73% of the responses, the government stated that the requested documents were unavailable, given that the projects were still being implemented and the information had not yet been generated. Only in 3.4% of the cases—a mere ?ve responses—did the government furnish the requested information.

The report concludes:

The fact that the Mexican government’s responses often referred us to the websites of the World Bank and the IDB is problematic. First, the banks do not comply with their policies on access to information—that is, the information that should be available is often incomplete and unavailable. Second, the banks do not always meet their established timeframes for supplying information that should be publicly disclosed; for example, the World Bank took 80 business days to respond to some of our requests. Third, 53% of the documents that were available were in English, with the remaining 47% in Spanish, thus excluding a considerable portion of the Mexican population that does not speak English and disregarding the fact that English is not the of?cial language of Mexico.

World Bank, IDB Responses

Fundar submitted 28 information requests through the World Bank’s website. “Most of the bank’s responses (68%) stated that the requested documents were not required for the project at hand; 18% furnished the requested documentation; 7% claimed that the requested information had not been produced since the project was still being implemented; and ?nally, one of the responses referred us to the project framework.”

The report faults the World Bank for being slow in responding, an average of 80 days instead of the required 20 days, and for providing more than half of the information in English.

Forty-five information requests were sent to the IDB. “Of the responses we received, 49% delivered the requested documentation; 27% stated that the requested information had not been generated since the project was still being implemented; 15% claimed that the requested documents were not required for the project at hand; 7% did not deliver the information; and, ?nally, one stated that the requested information was in the process of being authorized.”

The report concentrates on problems with Mexican government information flows. According to the report, “Although the government submits qualitative reports to the IFIs as part of the follow-up process for the loans that it negotiates, it does not make these reports publicly available.”

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

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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