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LIST VÝKONNÝM RIADITEĽOM SVETOVEJ BANKY VO VECI NETRANSPARENTNÉHO PROCESU TVORBY CAS

CEPA niekoľkokrát protestovala proti netransparetnej a nedemokratickej príprave Stratégie pomoci Svetovej banky pre Slovensko (CAS). Tieto protesty síce neovplyvnili obsah CAS v prípade Slovenska, prispeli však k demokratizácii procesu príprav obdobných dokumentov v iných krajinách strednej a východnej Európy.


February 2000

Dear Executive Director;

We are writing to inform you of the inadequate and unacceptable way in which the public consultation process was performed in relation to the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the Slovak Republic. We hope that knowledge of this situation will convince you of the need to postpone the finalization of the Slovak CAS until a proper public consultation has been conducted. In the summer of 1999, we received assurances from officials at the World Bank’s regional office in Budapest that the development of the Slovak CAS would be very open and transparent. With the recent conclusion of the public consultations in mid-March, it is clear that such assurances were false. In the early stages of the CAS development we sent the Bank a list of criteria that we consider essential to ensure an effective and transparent process for the public consultations. These criteria included: · adequate advance notification as well as a clear framework set for the consultation process; · sufficient documentation publicly available at least one month in advance of the consultations, to include the draft CAS, an outline of the consultations and studies undertaken in preparation for the CAS; · that the views and interests of the civil society organizations be seriously considered during the CAS development and such consideration be reflected in the final CAS document. · For the most part, these criteria were ignored by the Bank’s regional office in Budapest, and what little effort was made toward meeting these criteria was insufficient. Following three postponements, the first public consultation was held in mid-February, less than two months before the CAS was expected to be finalized and several months after the CAS development had begun in the fall of 1999. Notification of the meeting and the informal note which served as the basis for the consultation was distributed only a few days prior to the consultation. There was no indication of how the consultation process as a whole would be conducted and relevant information, such as the significant role of an earlier World Bank country study and the fact that only two public consultations were scheduled, was made available for the first time at the meeting. The first consultation was vague and unstructured. Following the introduction by Bank officials, participants were asked to give comments and ask questions. However, because the meeting was not dealing with specifics, many participants felt unclear as to what they could contribute. Furthermore, we were discouraged when the Bank officials emphasized the consultations that would occur with the implementation of the CAS, rather than the task at hand, the consultations for the CAS framework itself. Shortly following the release of the CAS informal note, we submitted to the Bank’s regional office in Budapest a compiled document of questions, summaries and recommendations from a variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in various sectors relevant to World Bank activities. We expected the Bank to revise the CAS informal note according to the questions and concerns raised in the submission, and to provide a formal explanation as to why some questions or concerns were not addressed in the revised draft. We then expected to have the opportunity to discuss the new draft in further consultations. With the invitation for the second and final consultation, we learned that no such draft or explanation would be made available. Moreover, the NGO that organized the first consultation did not participate in the organizing of the second consultation. The Bank’s Budapest office requested that this NGO organize the consultation in approximately one weeks time, but the NGO declined saying that it needed at least two weeks to properly organize the event. The Budapest office rejected this suggestion and organized the second consultation with Bank staff. In contrast with the first consultation, no travel compensation was offered and the press apparently were not invited. The second consultation, held one month following the first one, clearly demonstrated the poor quality of the public consultation process in relation to the Slovak CAS. In his opening statements, one Bank official admitted that the Bank has very little knowledge of the real situation in Slovakia. As the session continued, it was clear that the Bank officials only intended to focus on the implementation of the CAS, rather than the CAS framework itself. Our organization, together with other organizations present, protested that we did not have a revised draft of the informal note to discuss and that the framework of the CAS was not being addressed, despite this being the purpose of the CAS consultations. To support our position, we referred to several expert reports which highlights the poor record of the World Bank, and expressed our belief that such a poor record is the consequence of the Bank’s fundamental starting point, which is outlined in its CAS. One of the studies we referred to was the Meltzer Commission report, which was the result of a study commissioned by the US Congress. As we described the findings of this study, one Bank official interrupted and asked if the participants were really interested in ”what the Bank did in Africa.” The interruption was an obvious attempt to avoid criticism of the Bank itself in the consultations, despite its relevance to the purpose of the consultations. In response to the Commission report, this same Bank official surprisingly stated that it was just one report from the more than one hundred governments which are represented on its Board. Such a statement suggests that the Bank official intended to mislead a public who may not be fully aware of the specific details of the Bank’s governing structure, nor the significance of a study commissioned by the US Congress which calls for the reduction of World Bank funds and activities, including the elimination of some of its affiliated agencies. Furthermore, we are skeptical of the World Bank’s firm assurances that the public will be fully consulted on the implementation of projects. In the summer of 1999, we repeatedly expressed an interest in, and requested information about, the Bank’s Enterprise and Financial Sector Adjustment Loan (EFSAL) for Slovakia. We, however, did not receive any reply on this matter from the Bank’s Budapest office. Currently, it seems that there have already been extensive negotiations on this loan and yet we have not, nor has anyone else from civil society that we aware of, been consulted on this project. The CAS informal note also calls for a poverty assessment of the EFSAL, but we have not been informed of the nature, methodology or timeframe of the assessment. As the second consultation was being drawn to a close, many NGOs were expressing their confusion as to the purpose of the consultations. Another NGO representative asked Bank officials present when there will be another consultation in relation to the CAS and whether the public will get to see another version of the CAS before it goes to the Slovak parliament. A Bank official, despite the admission earlier that the Bank knew very little about the real situation in Slovakia and despite the confusion at the end of the meeting, responded by saying that he saw no reason for the delay of the CAS and that he does not feel that the Bank needs to be ”audited” on the further stages of the CAS. The public consultation in relation to the Slovak CAS has been inadequate and unacceptable. It has been de-legitimized in the opinion of many in Slovak civil society and there is no feeling of ownership of the Slovak CAS, despite the Bank’s own emphasis on the importance of such a feeling. For this reason we are asking the Board of Directors to insist that the Budapest regional office delay the finalization of the Slovak CAS until a proper public consultation is conducted. We are prepared to give the Bank specific suggestions as to how such a proper public consultation is to be conducted.

We look forward to receiving your response.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ryan Hunter, Program Director/National Coordinator Friends of the Earth-Slovakia/CEE Bankwatch Network

* More specific details on dates and events can be provided upon request.

 

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