Thailand to test transparency in airport expansion
Improvements in transparency and accountability within the $2bn expansion of Bangkok’s International Suvarnabhumi Airport mark a turning point for Thailand, as the country announces today that it has joined CoST - the global transparency and accountability initiative that aims to stamp out corruption and mismanagement in public infrastructure. Read more
Formal Disclosure Requirement brings greater transparency to Honduran public infrastructure
The President of Honduras has issued an Executive Decree that establishes a Formal Disclosure Requirement (FDR) for Honduras.
An FDR represents a considerable milestone in delivering transparency in public infrastructure as it provides a legal basis for procuring entities to disclose the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard into the public domain.
Published in the official Honduras newspaper, the Executive Decree requires procuring entities to proactively disclose all items contained in the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard on the Information and Monitoring System of Public Works and Oversight Contracts (SISOCS).
The disclosure requirement applies gradually to all institutions of the Productive Infrastructure Cabinet. The Productive Infrastructure Cabinet is the public agency responsible for coordinating road, energy, transport, ports and telecommunications infrastructure. The procuring entities will have to adhere to the disclosure process, as established by the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), within the CoST Programme framework and implementation schedule.
The Executive Order also authorizes the CoST MSG to use the assurance process to monitor compliance with the FDR.
Finally, the Decree establishes the link between SISOCS and another public system called HonduCompras, which is the official site for disclosing information on public procurement. This will avoid duplication of information repositories.
The MSG could not have reached this important milestone without the intervention of Honduras CoST Champion, Minister of Infrastructure Roberto Ordoñez, who introduced the initiative to the Cabinet.
El Requerimiento de Divulgación Formal de información da más transparencia a la infraestructura pública hondureña. Leer más
Malawi Vice President is new CoST Malawi Champion
CoST Malawi has unveiled the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima as its new Champion. This follows an appointment made by the country’s President Prof. Peter Mutharika.
In his acceptance speech at a recent event in Lilongwe, Malawi, Chilima urged Malawians to hold hands in ensuring strict accountability over public resources so that common citizens receive full benefits of various development projects the government implements. He said,
“As we look forward to the next 50 years, as Malawians, we need to take responsibility of our own destiny and this should start with us being accountable for the resources that have been entrusted with. I commit myself to champion the CoST agenda whole heartedly in Malawi”. He noted that through the program Malawi can be a shining example on construction governance.
The role of the Champion is to promote and institutionalise CoST across Government as a tool to improve transparency and accountability in public infrastructure.
The Vice President also heads the country’s Public Service Reform Commission which aims to facilitate the creation of an effective and efficient Public Service that will spur economic growth. Linking his portfolio at the Commission and the CoST agenda, the CoST Champion said “he is personally committed to ensure that reforms incorporate CoST principles, so that disclosures are not only limited to procurement principles but also cover the whole value chain of construction activities”.
A spokesperson for CoST Malawi said,
“The Multi-Stakeholder Group is very excited with the appointment as it demonstrates government’s commitment and support for the CoST initiative. We are further excited that the Public Service Reform Commission is to prioritize the enactment of the amended Public Procurement Act which is expected to incorporate CoST principles for public infrastructure projects”.
Launching of Transparency Initiatives in Honduras Public Construction.
Last week, the Honduran Presidential House hosted the event "Launching of Transparency Initiatives in the Public Construction Sector” led by Minister for Infrastructure, Roberto Ordoñez.
At the event, over 90 participants had the opportunity to watch a performance demonstration of the Information System for Monitoring Works and Contracts (SISOCS) where all items of the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard has been disclosed on road sector projects financed with external funds, which is the first disclosure commitment made by the Government of Honduras to the CoST MSG.
Additionally, the CoST Honduras Constitution was signed by all representatives of the MSG organizations and also a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Infrastructure and a civil society organization (EROC) member of CoST Honduras, with the aim of promoting social audit processes and the use of the information disclosed in SISOCS.
Finally, a Complaint Management System (SMQ) was presented which will allow continuous feedback from citizenship to the Ministry of Infrastructure (INSEP) during construction processes of public infrastructure pursuing continuous improvement and delivering quality services.
This event is an expression of political willingness and commitment to transparency providing a new impulse to the successful development of CoST Honduras program.
Lanzamiento de Iniciativas de Transparencia en Infraestructura Pública. Leer más
Malawi’s citizens have their voice on infrastructure transparency
CoST Malawi recently held a live radio debate on, ‘Can transparency add value to the development of public infrastructure projects in Malawi?’ The debate came at a time when CoST Malawi had recently released an Assurance Report which uncovered massive cost and time overruns on several public infrastructure projects.
The debate was held on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) station which has a nationwide listenership of 76%. Panellists for the debate included Joe Ching’ani, Chair CoST Malawi, Rex Chiluzi, Principle Secretary II Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Jeff Kabondo, African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) and Gerald Khonje, National Construction Industry Council (NCIC). The two hour debate received an overwhelming response from the public with many questions submitted by SMS.
For example, Leston Chikopa from Ntchisi asked “How does CoST deal with political interference in public infrastructure projects; for instance, we note that many projects arise from political podiums without proper budgeting and consultation, and contracts are awarded to companies with links to politicians”.
In response, Rex Chiluzi pointed out that government is committed to ensuring that there is no political interference as shown by the establishment of Government Contracting Unit in the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC). The unit will scrutinize all contracts to filter any political and individual interference. He also reiterated that government is identifying a CoST Champion as it believes in the programme.
In response to a question on how much information is disclosed by procuring entities Jeff Kabondo, stated “There is a lot that is not revealed to the citizens. It’s high time we know who owns firms behind many public infrastructure projects, their friends and cronies. We are surprised that the same firms are awarded multiple contracts even with evident cases of non-performance”.
In response, audience member Timothy Kalembo, Assistant Director at the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), noted that such acts of secrecy will be addressed with the proposed amendments to the Public Procurement Act which take on board the CoST disclosure requirements.
It was an exciting night as many Malawian citizens made significant contributions and showed their interest in construction governance.
In his concluding remarks, Joe Chinga’ani stated, “CoST is about promoting best practices and not finger pointing nor witch hunting. And even if it was a witch hunting program, why would you be afraid if you are not a witch?”
Interim Board endorsed by MSGs for a further twelve months
The CoST Interim Board has announced that it will remain in place until resources are available to organise a broad-based democratic process involving all participating countries. This comes after consultation with Multi-Stakeholder Groups in each CoST country.
Following the launch of the CoST Global Programme in 2012, it had been anticipated that a Delegate Assembly consisting of representatives from each national programme and international stakeholders would be convened to elect a Board. However, this has not been possible due to insufficient resources. The Interim Board will review the potential for convening a General Assembly later this year.
Petter Matthews, Director of the International Secretariat explained: “CoST is legally constituted as a Charity and a non-profit Company and Interim Board Members are Trustees and Directors. They were appointed by the International Advisory Group that oversaw the CoST pilot project from 2008-2011.”