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World Bank Unlocks More Information

June 23, 2010

MANILA, JUNE 24, 2010—The World Bank's new “Access to Information” (AI) policy will make available a wider range of documents and data.

Approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on November 17, 2009, the new policy will enable public access to information in the Bank’s possession that are not covered by a clear list of exceptions.

This illustrates a balance between maximum access to information and respect for the confidentiality of information pertaining to its clients, shareholders, employees, and other parties.

The AI policy is one of several major reforms that the World Bank is undertaking to improve its effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability, as well as to enhance the quality of its operations.

By July 1, 2010, around 17,000 documents and reports from 1948-2005 worldwide will be shared, including:

• Country assistance strategies
• Project appraisal documents
• Program documents
• Minutes of World Bank Board Committee meetings
• Summaries of discussions
• Country portfolio performance reviews

370 of these documents and reports are Philippines-specific.

Says World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman: "The new Policy represents a paradigm shift in the way the Bank operates, engages stakeholders in society, and handles information.”

The Policy is informed by external and internal consultations held in 33 countries, including the Philippines, and through the Bank’s external website, which were undertaken from March-June 2009. It reflects the views of member countries, civil society organizations, academia, parliamentarians, media, the private sector, international organizations, donor agencies, and Bank staff.

The Policy is complemented by the Bank’s new Open Data Initiative (data.worldbank.org), which makes available more than 2,000 indicators that were previously available only to paying subscribers. 

Researchers, journalists, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, and students can now tap access World Bank’s databases online.

 “This initiative will not only increase people’s access to information but also help stimulate evidence-based policy making in developing countries like the Philippines. Researchers, analysts, and policy makers could use these data to analyze development challenges at fresh angles,” says Mr. Hofman.

He added: “Statistical information, when transformed into knowledge, has the power to generate innovative solutions to pressing development challenges, especially poverty.”

Drawing on India’s Right to Information Law and the United States’ Freedom of Information Law, the new AI policy is also closely aligned with the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the Philippines, which recognizes the importance of transparency and openness as critical tools for improving good governance, accountability, and development effectiveness.

The Policy also enables affected parties, civil society groups, and other stakeholders to review how their feedback has contributed to the preparations of financing operations and the formulation of Bank policies and strategies.

More information will be made available before they are formally discussed by the Board, rather than after Board decisions have been made.

Ms. Maryse Gautier, WB Portfolio Manager says: "As an intergovernmental organization owned by member countries including the Philippines, the Bank is accountable for public money and has an obligation to be responsive to the inquiries and concerns of its shareholders.”