As consultations on the World Bank’s disclosure policy move ahead, the Bank has taken steps which allow governments to withhold essential information to country stakeholders. A recent WB/IMF paper states that a country is not required to produce a policy matrix as part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The matrices, which detail WB and IMF conditions, were previously made public with the IMF‘s Policy Framework Papers and also in the Interim PRSP documents.
The failure to disclose the policy matrix will make it hard for civil society groups to monitor the PRSP process and ensure that the programme of action detailed in the PRSP is properly translated into Bank and Fund lending programmes. NGOs are concerned that the Bank and IMF may impose conditions that are not consistent with the poverty strategy.
“As public institutions, the IMF and World Bank are preaching the importance of transparency on the part of borrowing governments. This message will be hollow if the institutions, themselves, collude with borrowing governments that conduct their business beyond the public view and, hence, preclude democratic processes of debate and consensus building. We recommend that the policy matrix should remain in the public domain. The contents of the policy matrix should be on the table for discussion and negotiation as part of the PRSP process” commented Nancy Alexander from Globalization Challenge Initiative.
Alexander recommends the public disclosure, prior to Board discussions, of World Bank Letters of Development Policy, Memoranda of the President and Tranche Release Memoranda; and IMF Letters of Intent, Memoranda of Economic and Financial Policies and Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Arrangements.