IFI governance


Review criticises Bank disclosure policy implementation

21 July 2003

A new review assesses to what extent the World Bank has implemented its disclosure policy, introduced in 2001. The Bank Information Center (BIC), an NGO which has done leading work on disclosure, concludes “the Bank has made progress over the past 18 months, but this Review demonstrates that substantial problems remain and makes specific recommendations on how the Bank can begin to address outstanding issues”. Among its main recommendations are to implement systems for citizens to appeal when they are not provided the information they are seeking.

On July 3, the World Bank’s Board met and approved both a Translation Framework and Management’s Progress Report on Implementation of the Disclosure Policy. The Bank’s Progress Report has not been released but is understood to recommend additional disclosure in a number of areas, such as IMF-Bank relations annexes and certain project related documents. However, the Board directed Bank Management to continue working on outstanding issues such as the disclosure of Board minutes, the release of final draft Board papers prior to Board approval, and the different standards that currently govern the disclosure of Country Assistance Strategies (CASs) for middle-income and low-income countries. Currently IBRD CASs are only disclosed at the request of the borrowing government, while CASs for low-income countries that borrow from the International Development Association (IDA) are routinely disclosed unless the borrower objects.

The Bank Information Center report finds that:

  • the Bank is not meeting its commitment to disclose Project Information Documents early in the project cycle or to update them as the project evolves;
  • the Bank is not complying with the Policy’s commitment to attach a list of Factual and Technical Documents (FTDs) to updated PIDs;
  • Loan, Guarantee and Development Credit Agreements are not available through the Bank’s website;
  • Project Completion Notes (PCNs) are not disclosed.

BIC argues that the Bank actually operates on a presumption against disclosure rather than one for disclosure as its policy states. They urge the Bank to release papers not specifically mentioned by their disclosure policy, or provide reasons why it is not doing so. An example is Board policy papers.