CSOs demand strong standards on disclosure of Public-Private Partnerships

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Mon, Feb 29, 2016


Center of Concern joins more than 50 civil society organizations in demanding strong disclosure requirements for Public Private Partnerships.

In a document submitted to the World Bank, more than 50 global, regional and national civil society organizations offered analysis of the World Bank Disclosure Framework for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

The submission responded to a consultation the World Bank opened on a Framework it is developing intended to fill a gap on guidance for Public-Private Partnerships disclosure.

As part of a trend to assign a greater role to the private sector in development finance, the importance of PPPs in policy discourse has been growing. The Group of 20 has trusted the World Bank with producing a series of tools that are expected to heavily influence standards, policies and practices on the matter by its client countries and those of multilateral development banks, which oftentimes follow the World Bank’s lead.

Signatories to the submission raised a number of procedural and substantive issues regarding the Framework.

They emphasized the importance of a robust framework to safeguard against risks raised by PPPs having to do with social and environmental impacts, respect for human rights, democratic accountability and macroeconomic problems, including hidden public indebtedness.

“The need for such safeguards is particularly acute in the light of the G20’s recent policy decisions to encourage so-called ‘transformational’ projects, which we understand as increased support for megaprojects,” the groups said.

Among other concerns, the signatories referred to the World Bank document’s lack of reference to disclosure oriented to ensure scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest of officials and civil servants involved in decisions regarding PPPs. “Such requirements are an important portion of measures to prevent corruption, overcharges and inefficiencies,” they said. Likewise, the apparent neglect of standards for the period after bidding is closed and before signature of the contracts, was a gap that needs to be addressed.

The submission also found areas of the World Bank’s Disclosure Framework worth supporting and reinforcing, such as the concerns posed by unsolicited projects and the decision not to lower requirements where non-standard contracts are involved.

A submission also signed by a collective of civil society organizations, but in Spanish, addressed some concerns specific to the Latin America region.