Newsletter 24 – Apr 2018

GIFT Network: where are we and what’s next for this year?
The year kicked off with an intense calendar of engagements for the GIFT network to collaborate with IBP in launching the 2017 Open Budget Survey. In the coming months, GIFT will continue supporting this effort by participating in the upcoming regional launches in Asia and Latin America. Beyond this, the network has a range of fruitful activities planned for the remainder of 2018, including the following. We will be co-organizing international events with stewards, such as the OECD Senior Budget Officials meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, or the Fiscal Transparency launch and workshop in Brasilia, Brazil. We will also be part of partner events, such as an open contracting event with the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) and the National Anti-Corruption System Secretariat in May in Mexico.

Moreover, stewards will soon be invited to engage in exciting and purposive activities. For instance, for this year’s Global Open Government Partnership Summit, to be held in Tbilisi, Georgia (July 17-19), the network will call stewards to submit proposals for participation at the side event
GIFT is planning to hold. Additionally, stewards will soon be invited to the next General Stewards Meeting, to be probably held in Cascais, Portugal, during the second semester of 2018. We will also ask you to be more active on online peer learning activities, such as webinars, and to engage in a network process to advance public participation in fiscal policies. As we are in the process of organizing all of these engagements, we trust that you will be joining the multiple promising opportunities to advance fiscal transparency and participation in network country members, and to strengthen our network during 2018!

GIFT presents the #DataOnTheStreets International Rally at the 3rd OECD Forum on Governance of Infrastructure
Paris, March 26, 2018

The annual Governance of Infrastructure OECD Forum brought together practitioners from across the infrastructure policy spectrum from more than 30 countries –infrastructure planners from finance and sectoral ministries, regulators, PPP managers, as well as representatives of the private sector, investors and civil society– to exchange experiences on how to overcome governance bottlenecks and strengthen the management of infrastructure from conception to delivery.

The Consultation for Inclusive Infrastructure panel addressed the concern of having more practical consultation processes. Panelists explored examples of how public participation has been successfully managed in a way that enhances the legitimacy and accountability of the investment decisions and contributes to delivery of sustainable and inclusive infrastructure. Transparent and inclusive systems for stakeholder consultation are an essential component of most areas of public policy today, including the infrastructure sector where current mechanisms either do not fully capture the public interest or deliver inferior results.

Tarick Gracida,
GIFT‘s Technology and Communications Coordinator, presented the experience of the #DataOnTheStreets International Rally. He reflected on the benefits of this successful citizen engagement strategy, shared some preliminary lessons and the great results of the three countries involved. He added that with the support of the GIFT network, other countries can easily implement this citizen engagement strategy during the next Open Data Day 2019.

In the room were two institutions involved in the 2018 Rally, the Mexican Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit and the Secretariat of Transparency of Colombia that will promote the good results of the Rally to motivate more countries to join.

Check out the infographics of the results of Mexico, Chile and Colombia

GIFT at the Eight Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru
Open Data: Democratic Governance

April 11, 2018
In the framework of the VIII Summit of the Americas (April 13-14 in Lima Peru), Avina Foundation, the Interamerican Government Procurement Network, the Organization of American States, Trust for the Americas, Hivos and the Latin American Open Data Initiative –GIFT Steward- hosted the Open Data: Democratic Governance event. The event explored the role that open data and civic technology have in the fight against corruption in the Americas. Together with members of international organizations, governments, the private sector, civil society and the media of the region, the objective was to identify common challenges, successful experiences and the advancement of a frank dialogue about the role of civic technology and open data in fighting corruption. The event was held as a prelude to the declaration of the Heads of State of the Americas that called for the use of open data to combat corruption in the region. GIFT participated in the event’s discussions and endorsed the Declaration in Advance of The Summit of the Americas.

The Heads of State participating of the VIII Summit of the Americas adopted the Lima Commitment “Democratic Governance Against Corruption,” which includes a total of 57 commitments to tackle corruption in the hemisphere, among which are those of open data and open contracting. (See paragraphs B and D of the Commitment found at the following link:

The Department for Effective Public Management of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be working with its institutional and civil society partners to meet the mandates that these commitments generate to the Member States and the General Secretariat of the OAS. In particular, for the implementation of the Inter-American Program on Open Data to Combat Corruption, as referred to in paragraph 20 of the Lima Commitment.
IMF-WB Spring Meetings, Washington DC, April 16-22, 2018
Each year, the Spring Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness. Also featured are seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial system.
See the agenda

In the framework of the Spring Meetings, in which many of the
GIFT Stewards –the IMF and the WBG, OECD, IBP, ministries of finance, among others– have an active participation, the network coordination team will take part of the following events.

Launch of the IMF Fiscal Transparency Handbook and OECD Budget Transparency Toolkit at the 2018 IMF Fiscal Forum: Corruption and Public-Sector Governance
Recognizing that corruption can weaken the state’s capacity to tax, leading to lower revenue collection and that it can also undermine spending programs through cost inflation and distorted, low-quality budget allocation, the 2018 Fiscal Forum will bring together policymakers and practitioners to discuss how revenue mobilization reforms and fiscal transparency can help to fight corruption.

On Sunday April 21, Vitor Gaspar (Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF), Luiz de Mello (Director, Policy Studies Branch, Economics Department, OECD), and Juan Pablo Guerrero (Network Director,
GIFT) will launch the IMF Fiscal Transparency Handbook and OECD Budget Transparency Toolkit at the IMF headquarters. These are documents that have been developed by GIFT Stewards and that have been discussed within the network.

See the Fiscal Forum agenda

MENA High-level event
The high-level discussion on April 17, 2018, proposed by the Egyptian Ministry of Finance, aims to convene government officials from the MENA region to share experiences on fiscal transparency reforms among peer countries, outline strategic directions, share commitments, listen to civil society, and gain insights from relevant IFIs and international agencies involved in the fiscal transparency agenda. This high-level discussion aims to set the stage for the identification of specific plans and commitments to fiscal transparency among participating countries, and to enable periodic follow-up and monitoring at the country level. The discussion will also engage civil society representatives, of the following countries: Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia (GIFT steward). The event will follow a panel format, moderated by Deborah Wetzel, Senior Director of the Governance Global Practice, and The World Bank, the IMF, and GIFT will share how they can support these efforts.

Francophone African countries High-level event
The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the International Budget Partnership will host a high-level round table to advance budget transparency in Francophone Africa, on April 20. The goal is that governments discuss with budget transparency experts and international investors about the importance of the budget Transparency agenda. One of the main objectives of this meeting is to offer the ministries of the region an opportunity to share concrete measures to sustain and strengthen the transparency of the budget in their respective countries. Also, the World Bank, the IMF, and GIFT will discuss how they can support these efforts. The countries involved are: Benin (GIFT Steward), Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali and Senegal.
Coming up: a new tutorial on disclosing and using budget open data, by Mexico’s SHCP and GIFT
At the request of GIFT Stewards to have practical resources that explain how to implement a fiscal transparency policy with open data as a fundamental pillar, based on the successful experience of GIFT Stewards, the Mexican Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) –GIFT Lead Steward- and GIFT have produced a new tutorial that will be launched next month.
The tutorial will be composed of a series of ten 1-5 minutes that address the what, how and for what of an open data policy to disclose and communicate budget information.

The tutorial will first be produced in Spanish and will soon be offered in English.
Stay tuned!
High-level roundtable Frontiers in anticorruption: strengthening prevention, tackling impunity, and changing perceptions
April 18, 2018 | 11:00 to 12:00 ET, 15:00 to 16:00 GMT
Preston Auditorium, World Bank Headquarters
This high-level roundtable discussion will bring together thought leaders and practitioners in government, the private sector, civil society, media and academia to explore:
  • how governments are looking outside the box to fight impunity and ensure accountability;
  • how the newest technological developments such as artificial intelligence and data analytics affect how we approach corruption;
  • how the private sector can play a role in reducing corruption;
  • and how the media is working to expose wrongdoing in service of the public good.
How do you think all of us can help end corruption and what questions do you have for experts? Share your ideas and questions via the comments section of this page or by using #EndCorruption on Twitter and Facebook.

IMF Policy paper: Macroeconomic Developments and Prospects in Low-Income Developing Countries
A newly published study by the IMF on the increasing number of low income developing countries at high financial risk or debt distress shows that debt burdens and vulnerabilities have risen significantly since 2013 in many of these countries (LIDC). The number of countries in such conditions has increased from 13 in 2013 to 24 in January 2018. Not surprisingly, many of these cases coincide with the decline of budget transparency as measured by the Open Budget Survey in 2017 (Francophone Africa).

The study underscores the significant gaps in the available data on public and publicly-guaranteed debt in LIDCs. The coverage of public sector entities is typically too narrow, while the coverage of guarantees is limited, if not absent. There is also lack of transparency in the terms and conditions of loans and the extent of “collateralization”. These information gaps are usually revealed only late when countries experience debt distress and begin to default. On this respect, the IMF Executive Board has
discussed that more efforts are also needed to project and report contingent liabilities, including those arising from state-owned enterprises and PPPs.

Finally, the composition of public debt in LIDCs continues to shift from traditional sources towards bilateral lenders, commercial external debt, and domestic debt. “Higher interest rates on commercially-priced debt has led to higher debt servicing costs and market risks, while the rising importance of non-traditional creditors poses new challenges for potential debt resolutions, including difficulties in ensuring the creditor coordination needed to produce comprehensive agreements acceptable to all major creditors”.