Overview of transparency in the construction sector
Memorandum of Association signed between CoST IS and Ministry of Works
In 2009, El Salvador’s Ministry of Public Works had debts of $43m with 80% of its contracts paralysed by legal problems. Since then it has embarked on a reform programme based on the principles of transparency and ethical behaviour, with the result that the number of law suits against the Ministry has reduced to zero in the last 4 years under the leadership from Minister Martinez.
Existing efforts to enhance transparency and accountability include the Citizen’s Observatory of Public Works, which was established in 2009 with the support and participation of the Salvadoran Chamber of Construction (CASALCO) and civil society group National Foundation for Development (FUNDE). Integrity Pacts have also been in operation from 2011, including Integrity Pacts for the construction of Boulevard Monsignor Romero and for the Integrated Transportation System Terminal for the Metropolitan area of San Salvador, two of the largest and vitally significant projects in the city.
The Transparency and Access to Information Policy for the Ministry of Public Works was established by ministerial decree in May of 2011. This policy guarantees citizens active openness and access to public information within the Ministry’s domain, and additionally access to justice through public hearings. In response to the Access to Public Information Law, which came into force on 8 May 2012, the Ministry created two ‘Transparency Houses’ i.e. offices where any interested party may request and access official information of the Ministry. The first Transparency House for the Vice-ministry of Public Works and the Vice-ministry of Housing and Urban Development is already in operation and the second Transparency House, for the Vice-ministry of Transportation, is due to open next month.
The CoST El Salvador programme aims to build on existing transparency efforts in El Salvador and was officially launched on the 24th May 2013. A Memorandum of Understanding formalising the programme was signed between the Ministry and CoST International Secretariat.
In the run up to Launch, a series of workshops was held on the 22nd and 23rd May to develop the design and implementation of the CoST El Salvador programme. The workshops were attended by key representatives from the Ministry of Public Works, CASALCO and other private sector entities, civil society groups including FUNDE and the Initiative for Social Democracy (ISD), universities and donors such as USAID and IADB. Over the next few months, the Ministry of Public Works will be working closely with all the various stakeholder groups to fully develop the implementation plan for CoST El Salvador. This will include the selection of projects for inclusion in the initial CoST El Salvador programme. Several road projects have already been identified and likely to be expanded to include transport, housing and maintenance.
Over the past year, representatives from civil society as well as the private and public sectors have been busy working on establishing a regulatory framework, which now forms the basis for the national CoST program. The group has also created a strategic plan for the program’s implementation, set the program’s rules and contributed to the formation of the CoST El Salvador Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), which was formalised at the end of 2013. Furthermore, the first steps have been taken to obtain funding for the national program and financial support for the implementation of the baseline study and manual underwriting has been secured. The funds are to be donated by the consulting firm Casals & Associates as part of the USAID program for strengthening democracy. CoST El Salvador is now to define its Directing Council, establish a consolidated structure and recruit a national coordinator. The implementation of the national CoST program will begin soon after that.
- Construction of the San Isidro Bridge (over the Lempa River)
- Construction of three overpasses:
- Masferrer round;
- Comalapa Road (Navarra’s Ranch Zone); and
- Third floor overpass (Los Proceres Boulevard