July 2014

Guatemala trains up to 300 procuring entities 

CoST Guatemala has trained officials from up to 300 procuring entities (PEs) at a series of workshops.Participating PEs ranged from large central government agencies to small municipalities.

The training aims to inform officials about the new Government regulations that mandate the disclosure of all items of information in CoST disclosure requirements. The regulations introduce the CoST disclosure requirements in order to institutionalise transparency and accountability in public infrastructure procuring entities. 

Next month, CoST Guatemala will publish its’ fourth assurance report. The report will present the results from the analysis of 37 public infrastructure projects.

Uganda elects Interim Multi-Stakeholder Group

Over 60 participants from Government, the private sector and civil society recently participated at a Multi-Stakeholder Workshop in Kampala, Uganda, where the CoST Uganda Interim Multi-Stakeholder Group was elected. 

At the event, each stakeholder group was able to elect three representatives to the Interim MSG. The Government participants elected the Ugandan National Roads Authority, the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President and the Department of Information and National Guidance in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The private sector elected the Bus Owners Association, Conrad Engineering Works Ltd and Upland Enterprises and Construction Limited whilst Civil Society elected the Africa Freedom of Information Centre and the Youth Marshall Matrix International.

Following the workshop, the Interim MSG met to elect Nathan Byanyima of the Bus Owners Association as Chair.

CoST Policy Advisor, Bernadine Fernz said “the elections were a good example of multi-stakeholder working in practice. The Interim MSG has already entered into the spirit of cooperation and mutual recognition by developing clear governance procedures which are essential to an effective multi-stakeholder process."

Ethiopia finalises Disclosure Standard

Guidance developed by the CoST Ethiopia MSG recommends the use of the radio as the primary channel for disclosing project and contract information. This guidance is based on an assessment of how people access information which identified that 80% of Ethiopians access information primarily via the radio, followed by TV (62%) and Word of Mouth (50%). Only 2% of the population use the internet. 

The guidance is contained in the CoST Ethiopia Disclosure Standards that were recently discussed by over 40 representatives from Government Procuring Entities at a Consultation Workshop.

The purpose of the Disclosure Standard, produced by Habcon Consult, is to provide guidance to procuring entities on the disclosure of information to the public from their construction programmes. The guidance also recommends television, newspapers and construction site billboards as communication channels. Despite its low use, it also recommends the use of the internet due to the potential growth of internet users, the easy storing and retrieving of electronic information and that it provides access to international stakeholders. 

The standards also differentiates the communication channels on a regional basis. For example, it proposes community meetings in the Afar and Somali regions as word of mouth is the most popular form of accessing information in those locations. It also promotes the use of community radio for disclosing information through local languages. For example, South FM transmits programmes in 43 languages. 

The standards also include the standard Project and Contract Information that should be disclosed to the public, templates for disclosing the information at different phase of construction projects on construction site boards, newspapers and websites and tools for monitoring disclosure.

CoST to scale-up to 22 Countries

CoST aims to scale-up to 22 countries by December 2016. This growth is a key objective of CoST’s recently published Business Plan

The Business Plan aims to establish 14 new national programmes over the next 3 years as well as strengthening the technical capacity and increasing the effectiveness of the 8 former pilot countries. Since the launch of the Global Programme in late 2012, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Uganda and the Ukraine have all joined CoST with more set to join this year. 

The Business Plan also aims to build the capacity of the International Secretariat and the Board to implement and govern the CoST programme and provide support to national programmes.

Executive Director Petter Matthews said: “This plan demonstrates how CoST can be effectively scaled-up in the medium term and the benefits of increased transparency and accountability extended to more countries. We will be using it as the basis for discussions with potential financial supporters in the coming months.”

CoST participates at Fourth OECD G20 High Level Conference on Corruption 

CoST Chair Chrik Poortman, recently took part in a Panel discussion at the Fourth OECD G20 High Level Conference on Corruption on ‘Sweeteners in international Contracts: are ‘offsets’ the new corruption threat? 

Many countries that purchase foreign-source equipment (such as defence, transportation and power generation) require sellers to commit to an "offset" agreement. As a condition of the sale of goods or services, the seller is obliged or encouraged to provide additional economic or social benefits – beyond the base transaction – to the purchasing Governments economy. The Panel discussed how this practice creates risks that offset contracts will be used to conceal bribes and how this can be mitigated.

Chrik Poortman stated, “It is important that there is greater disclosure, transparency and accountability of offset agreements to reduce the potential for corruption. This means the CoST disclosure requirements should be applied to any ‘offset’ arrangements that form part of infrastructure investments”.

Chrik was joined on the Panel by Christian Sylvain, President, European Club of Countertrade & Offset (ECCO), France, Mete Demirci, Chief Inspector, Prime Ministry Inspection Board, Turkey, Pedro Montoya Santos, SVP, Group Ethics & Compliance Officer, Airbus Group (France) and member of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC).

Date Published: 22 August 2014
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