December 2014

CoST film launched today, highlights impact on local communities in Guatemala

A new film was launched today on International Anti-Corruption Day that highlights the impact of the CoST Guatemala programme on local communities. 

The film highlights how the Chichavac road is allowing the local community to access health services and markets to sell produce. The quality of construction on the Chichavac road has improved due to its inclusion in the CoST assurance process.  

In an interview for the film, Ariel Alvarado, Chief of Pre-Investment & Planning, General Directorate of Roads, attributed the improved quality to its inclusion in CoST. 

“The quality of the construction work on the project has improved as direct result of CoST. This is due to CoST enabling better integration and coordination between the project’s construction companies, supervision companies, and the General Directorate of Roads and Highways.”  

It also highlights a cost saving of $5m on the Belize Bridge project in Guatemala City where the planned rehabilitation of the bridge was unnecessary and potentially dangerous and that the CoST disclosure requirements are now a legal requirement on all public infrastructure projects. 

The film was launched at the CoST Guatemala 4th Disclosure Event where the findings of the 4th assurance report on 24 projects will be disclosed. A full report on the event and the assurance report will be included in the next CoST Newsletter.

Further films on the impact of CoST will be released over the next few months. You can watch the film here.

CoST Ethiopia attributes $13.3m cost increase to incomplete design

Incomplete and inadequate designs on infrastructure projects have led to major time and cost increases. This includes a $13.3m or 254% cost increase on the Gidabo irrigation project in central Ethiopia.

This was the key finding from the CoST Ethiopia Disclosure and Validation event where over 80 participants from government and industry debated the findings from Draft Assurance Reports on 16 road, irrigation and building projects. The reports highlighted an average cost increase of 44% on road projects and 10% on the construction of Jima University. 

The poor performance on the roads and water projects was attributed to contracts for construction being awarded when the design was incomplete or flawed. Changes to the design were then required during construction leading to increases in cost and time. The cost increase on the Gidabo irrigation project was due to a delay in deciding to increase the height of the dam and size of the irrigated area.

At the event, the Deputy Minister for Water, Wondimu Tekle, challenged the findings on the Gidabo irrigation project. He stated that “additional information would be provided that would demonstrate that the process for completing the design had been followed.” 

A CoST Ethiopia spokesman, said

”It was important that the procuring entities had the opportunity to respond to the findings in the assurance report. It was equally important that the discussion was in the presence of the media as these important issues should be reported to the public. Since then, national newspapers and radio have extensively reported on the findings.” 

Since the event, the procuring entities have submitted their comments on the assurance reports. Their comments will be included alongside the Assurance Reports when they are published later this month.

CoST Central America Workshop drives regional best practice 

Over 30 Multi-Stakeholder Group Members from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala recently heard how CoST offers a global standard for transparency and accountability in public infrastructure.

Speaking at the opening session of the CoST Central America Regional Workshop in El Salvador, Minister for Public Works in El Salvador, Gerson Martinez stated that “transparency and accountability in the use of public resources is a vital building block for a functioning democracy. This is especially important when climate resilient infrastructure investment is a vital component for sustainable economic development within the region.”

Ezequiel Miranda from World Bank Honduras added that CoST “offers a standard for transparency and accountability in public infrastructure that can drive regional best practice.”

Participants heard that Guatemala has to date disclosed data on 146 projects on their e-procurement portal Guatecompras and expects to disclose data on 6000 projects in 2015.  They also heard that Honduras will introduce a legal requirement to disclose the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard next year. However, a diverse, context specific range of innovative mechanisms and communication strategies are required to ensure information reaches the public.

This means that building demand is essential for ensuring the on-going supply of information that has real meaning for the public. In this context social audits have the potential to help build demand by linking public infrastructure projects to the concerns of citizens. 

The participants also agreed that multi-stakeholder participation is vital to ensuring the public do not view CoST as Government owned or controlled initiative.

Patricia Torrez, from the Department of Public of Administration Mexico, informed the participants that Mexico is piloting CoST on a public building project. The results of the pilot will be used to assess if Mexico applies to join CoST.

The workshop created a strong bond amongst the CoST Central American MSGs. All participants pledged to work together to deliver greater successes for CoST in the region. Ezequiel Miranda's parting words resonated with all participants: 'stay strong and continue your fight for CoST'.

The workshop was sponsored by GIZ Guatemala, World Bank Honduras, the Inter-American Development Bank El Salvador and the British Embassy in El Salvador.

CoST introduces Open Information Policy

CoST has introduced its new Open Information Policy by publishing theminutes from all previous CoST Interim Board meetings.

The policy is based on the principles of a presumption to disclose and the accuracy, completeness and accessibility of information. In announcing the policy, CoST International Secretariat Executive Director Petter Matthews said: “It is important that we go beyond compliance with legal obligations and meet the standards of international good practice that our supporters have a right to expect.”

Other information that has also been published includes CoST’s Articles of Association, the Business Plan and our income sources.  

World Bank President: CoST heightens demand for transparency

Initiatives such as CoST are important as they help drive the demand for transparency. This was the view of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, speaking in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge, during the ‘International Corruption Hunters Alliance’ in Washington yesterday. A video of the speech can be viewed here.


G20 to identify best practice and collection action to fight corruption


In its latest Anti-Corruption Action Plan, the G20 has pledged to identify best practice and collective action to fight corruption. It also identifies construction as a sector where there is a high risk of corruption. In welcoming the G20’s pledge, CoST Chair Chrik Poortman said:


“CoST is a collective action initiative that brings together civil society, the private sector and government to reduce corruption and mismanagement in public infrastructure. Many G20 countries face problems with mismanagement and corruption, but currently the UK is the only G20 country that participates in CoST. We hope this Action Plan will be a turning point and that more G20 countries will join CoST and support our efforts through their bilateral relationships.”


CoST in the news

In a recent feature in the Guardian, CoST’s Petter Matthews discusses how the potential risk of corruption in the energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa can reduce the potential socio-economic benefits to society. Click here to read the article in full.


Date Published: 12 March 2015
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