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karira

World Bank opens RTI door

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karira

As reported in indianexpress.com on 24 June 2010:

World Bank opens RTI door

 

World Bank opens RTI door

 

 

From July 1, the World Bank will throw open its files under the Right to Information Act. “This has been approved,” said a bank official, adding it potentially opens up the record of the Bank’s involvement with successive Indian governments before and especially during the first few critical years after liberalisation. However, correspondence of the Bank with the government will not come under the purview of the RTI, as part of the small set of negative list, he said.

 

Meanwhile, the World Bank on Wednesday said it was discussing with India for another $ 1 billion loan to help shore up capital of India’s public sector banks. “Discussions are going on with the World Bank and the government of India to provide”, World Bank country director for India Roberto Zagha said on Wednesday. India has become the largest recipient of the World Bank loans with over $ 9 billion worth assistance this fiscal ending June 2010, up fourfold over the previous fiscal that includes about $ 2 billion for the recap.

 

The Washington-based multilateral lender had extended only $ 2.2 billion loan to the country for the year ended June 2009. India’s share among the various recipients of the Bank is 15% in terms of loans, followed by Mexico with 11% and South Africa with 7%as of June 20, 2010.

 

As of June 20, the Bank has lent $ 9.26 billion to India and is expected to provide another $ 0.04 billion in the remaining period of June. The Bank follows a fiscal year from July to June.

 

The Bank’s total lending to India will touch $ 9.3 billion by the end of June and a similar amount is expected in the next financial year beginning July 2010. “We are working on a number of projects, which if you add them up, would roughly amount to the same amount of lending (in the next fiscal),” World Bank country director for India Roberto Zagha said after announcing the 2009-10 numbers in the Capital on Wednesday. The support would be for transformative projects, including the Kosi flood recovery project and cleaning up the Ganges. Besides, the Bank also expects huge funding opportunity in the infrastructure sector, including the proposed dedicated freight corridor project.

 

During this fiscal, the Bank has given aid of about $ 3 billion to the infrastructure sector, he added. The total expected lending this year includes $ 2.6 billion as interest-free credits from the International Development Association and $ 6.7 billion in the form of long-term, low interest loans from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, he further said.

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Atul Patankar

Is this a voluntary gesture or just a delayed realisation that RTI applies to them?

 

If the thinking is that the Act applies to them,

 

  • Who is the appropriate government under Section 2(a)
  • Who is the competent authority under section 2(e)
  • Which information commission enjoys the jurisdiction?
  • Can it become applicable on any date other that 12 Oct 2005?
  • Shall they be fined for various issues like non-appointment of PIOs, non-disclosure of sec 4 info, non filing of return?
  • How can they say that the correspondence with govt is still not under RTI purview?
  • Does this apply to World Bank's offices in India, or 'worldwide'?
  • Will RTI now become applicable to institutions substantially financed/ aided by world bank?

 

And if this is a voluntary gesture,

  • Can an Act of parliament be made 'voluntarily' applicable?
  • they are welcome to disclose info, but if it is a vlountary gesture, where is a 'Right'? is it enforceable?

 

Any views/ comments?

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sidmis

This endeavor by the World Bank has nothing to do(directly)with India's RTI Act, 2005. So none of the provisions of India's FoI act would ever apply to World Bank.

 

IMHO they are beyond India's RIA'05 and they cannot even legislate something like that.

 

For the World bank it is a mere Policy shift. Nothing more than that. They would have to formulate their own mechanism for this.

 

This is what their press release says :

 

 

New World Bank Access to Information Policy Takes Effect July 1

 

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2010—The World Bank said today that it is on track to begin to implement the first phase of its new policy on Access to Information on July 1, one of several major reforms the Bank has undertaken to increase its effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability.

 

The new policy positions the Bank as a transparency leader among multilateral organizations. It moves the Bank from an approach that spelled out what information would be made publicly available under the current disclosure policy, to one that enables public availability of all information in the Bank’s possession that is not on a clear list of exceptions, such as staff personal information and deliberative documents.

 

The new policy provides for much greater access to information about projects under implementation to enable the public to track a project through the course of the project lifecycle.

 

“The new Access to Information Policy is much more than a simple policy change. It is an enormous cultural shift for the institution, both in terms of how we engage with the outside world and how we view and handle information,” said Jeff Gutman, Vice President, Operations Policy and Country Services.

 

The Bank will make much more information available on key decisions made during project development and implementation to enable greater awareness of Bank-supported operations and better development results. New information that will be available includes decisions of Project Concept Review meetings, project supervision missions, and mid-term project reviews. Examples of newly available information after July 1 include:

 

· Minutes of Board Committee meetings

· Chairman’s summaries of Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings

· Summaries of Discussion

· Annual Reports of Board Committees

· Implementation Status and Results Reports (portions)

· Audited annual financial statements of borrowers for projects (for which the invitation to negotiate is issued after July 1, 2010)

· Country Portfolio Performance Reviews

· Concept notes and consultation plans for policy reviews that are subject to external consultations

 

“Experiences of other institutions and countries that have adopted disclosure policies of this magnitude clearly demonstrate that we have a steep learning curve ahead of us, but the Bank is committed to the principle that is the foundation of this new policy – maximizing access to information to improve the quality of the development process,” said Peter Stephens, Chair of the Access to Information Working Group and Director, External Affairs.

 

In particular, a big challenge for the Bank will be to track down all the historical information that is eligible for disclosure as of July 1, and to handle the anticipated surge in volume of requests until all new systems are completely in place and staff are trained and familiar with how the policy will work in practice. The Bank will continue beyond July 1 to train staff, complete systems upgrades, declassify eligible historical documents and refine workflow processes.

 

Preparations have been underway since November 2009—when the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the new policy—to put in place the systems and processes needed for implementation. These include:

 

· upgrading, enhancing, or creating new information technology systems and improving database usability and user interface for information seekers;

· designing and automating work-flow processes to facilitate the proactive disclosure on the Bank’s external website;

· preparing thousands of historical documents eligible for public disclosure as of July 1, 2010;

· developing a training program and implementation support resources for 10,000+ staff;

· defining a strategy for upgrading and reengineering the public information function and approach to public information provision through in-country public information centers;

· aligning the Bank’s translation framework with the new policy; and

· revising our information classification definitions.

 

“We have been working with several civil society organizations as we prepare for the policy shift and seeking their input on the complex issue of ‘access’ for different stakeholder groups, particularly those outside capital cities in developing countries, as well as on translations and ways they can help us test the new system and identify any possible unforeseen bottlenecks,” said Marwan Muasher, Senior Vice President, External Affairs.

 

The new policy, which draws on India’s Right to Information law and the US Freedom of Information Law, also includes a provision that will allow for the declassification of certain types of restricted information over time – after 5, 10, or 20 years – recognizing that sensitivity of the information declines over time. It also introduces the right to appeal.

 

“A requester can appeal if he or she believes that the Bank has improperly or unreasonably denied access to information that should be publicly available according to the new policy, or when a requester wishes to make a public interest case for disclosure of information that is restricted under the policy,” said Anne-Marie Leroy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, World Bank Group.

 

The new Access to Information Policy applies to IBRD and IDA. IFC and MIGA have their own disclosure policies.

 

The policy is available on line at www.worldbank.org/wbaccess and will be translated into numerous languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

 

Other internal reforms the World Bank is undertaking cover such critical areas as making lending more effective, giving developing countries more say in the institution, placing more staff in developing countries to better support clients in the work of poverty reduction, and providing free and easy access to the Bank’s vast stores of development data at http://data.worldbank.org.

 

Background and Evolution of the Policy

 

The Bank issued its first Directive on Disclosure of Information in 1985. The Board of Executive Directors approved the Bank’s first policy on information disclosure in 1993. It has evolved over the past 15 years – the Executive Directors and Bank Management have periodically reviewed the policy and expanded its scope in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

 

The new Access to Information Policy is informed by external and internal consultations held in 33 countries 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.

 

 

Source : News & Broadcast - New World Bank Access to Information Policy Takes Effect July 1

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karira

CIC Wajahat Habibullah will the best person to clear everyone's doubts.

He was the one who spent one week in Washington, "educating" the World Bank on right to Information.

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karira

News & Broadcast - World Bank Launches Access to Information Appeals Board

 

Press Release No:2010/522/EXT

 

World Bank Launches Access to Information Appeals Board

 

Contacts:

 

In Washington: Amy Stilwell (202) 458-4906, astilwell@worldbank.org

 

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2010 – The World Bank today announced the appointment of Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Mr. Daniel J. Metcalfe and Mr. Olivier Schrameck to serve as members of the independent Access to Information Appeals Board. Their appointments, which were endorsed by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, will start on July 1, 2010, for two years.

 

In approving the World Bank Access to Information Policy, which takes effect on July 1, 2010, the Board of Executive Directors approved the establishment of an appeals process that enables parties to file an appeal if their requests for information have been denied by the World Bank. The AI Appeals Board will serve as the second and final stage of the appeal for claims that allege the World Bank has unreasonably or improperly denied access to information that it would normally disclose under the Policy.

 

· Mr. Habibullah is currently the Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission of India, and is an established expert in the area of access to information.

 

· Mr. Metcalfe is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Washington College of Law, American University. He has both government and legal expertise in freedom of information issues. Mr. Metcalfe served in the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy from its founding in 1981 until his retirement from government service in 2007. He is currently the Executive Director of “Collaboration on Government Secrecy,” a non-partisan academic project devoted to the study of government openness and secrecy.

 

· Mr. Schrameck is currently the President of the Conseil d’Etat’s Reports and Studies Section, and is a prominent magistrate of the supreme Administrative Court in France, the French Council of State. He is a renowned expert in matters of legislative drafting, public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil liberties and human rights.

 

=======

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karira

Has CIC WH finally found his post post retirement sinecure ?

 

Most importantly, does this constitute a Office of Profit as in Sec 15(6) ?

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Atul Patankar
Has CIC WH finally found his post post retirement sinecure ?

 

 

Sinecure - any job or post that carries a salary but has either very little, or no work attached to it.

 

You said it, Karira Sir!

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karira

As reported by Himanshi Dhawan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 17 July 2010:

Article Window

 

CIC Habibullah is WB’s info appeals member

 

New Delhi: Chief information commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah has been appointed as a member of World Bank's access to information appeals board as on July 1, 2010 but will "take charge'' only at a much later stage.

 

Habibullah, who has been at the helm of affairs in the implementation of the Right to InformatCICion (RTI) in India, retires on September 29 this year after completing five years as the chief of the information watchdog.

 

As an independent expert on the board, Habibullah along with two others will be responsible for reviewing cases at the second stage of appeal after requestors have exhausted the first option of approaching the access to information committee.

 

Speaking to TOI, Habibullah said, "Since the Bank's policy is based on India's RTI Act, it was felt that an Indian member may be of some help. It is only a honorary position and I will not receive any emoluments till I am CIC. I have got the appointment letter but I will only take charge at a much later stage.'' The Bank spokesperson said, "Mr Habibullah and the Bank have agreed that he will not receive compensation from the Bank while employed as CIC for India.'' The spokesperson added that the appeals board members will be compensated only when they are reviewing and passing judgment on cases.

 

Habibullah also denied any conflict of interest. "If there is any conflict of interest, one can recuse oneself from the case as is done in courts,'' he added.

 

The Bank spokesperson also reiterated, "When a board member has professional duties that give rise to possible conflicts of interest, in most cases the conflict can be managed by the individual recusing himself from participating in deliberations and decisions on matters that overlap with other interests and loyalties. In Mr Habibullah's case, this means that while he holds his position with CIC, he would recuse himself from matters related to India and his CIC duties generally.''

 

Incidentally, the access to information policy has only been introduced recently by the Bank and borrows heavily from the Indian Right to Information Act.

 

The Bank has a two-stage appeals process, by which parties requesting information can file an appeal if they believe that the Bank has violated the policy by improperly or unreasonably denying their access to information requested.

 

The policy provides two grounds for appeal -- including category I where if a party requesting information from the WB establishes a prima facie case that the Bank has violated the terms of policy by improperly or unreasonably restricting access to information that it would normally disclose under the policy or category II when a requester makes a public interest case to override certain exceptions.

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karira

As reported by Ritu Sarin in indianexpress.com on 31 July 2010:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/habibullah-takes-rti-to-world-bank-job/654197/

 

Habibullah takes RTI to World Bank job

 

Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah, whose term ends in September, has informed the government about his new assignment as member of the Independent Access to Information Appeal Board recently set up by the World Bank.

 

Rashtrapati Bhavan officials said Habibullah’s request for taking up the assignment has been forwarded to the Department of Personnel and Training.

 

The Bank’s new information disclosure policy borrows heavily from India’s Right to Information Act — whose implementation Habibullah has been monitoring — and the US Freedom Of Information Act.

 

“The fact that the World Bank modeled its disclosure policy also on aspects and features of the Indian law is a compliment to us,” Habibullah told The Indian Express.

 

The assignment is part-time — requiring a few days’ work every month since the panel is expected to examine appeals only periodically, and will occasionally meet in Washington.

 

The panel began work on July 1. Other members are Daniel J Metcalfe of Washington College of Law and Oliver Schrameck, a magistrate of the French Administrative Court.

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karira

Reference post No. 6 above (dated 02 July 2010), where I had felt that this would constitute an "office of profit".

 

Information revealed under RTI has indeed confirmed that both the Ministry of Law and DoPT felt the same about "office of profit"

and clearly turned down the request of ex CIC Mr Habibullah to join the Appeals Board of the World Bank.

 

What has also been revealed that the per day payment proposed to be paid to Mr Habibuallah was US$ 1550.00 per day.

At the prevailing exchange rate of those days, it amounted to Rs. 72500.00 per day !

 

No wonder he was so keen on this job !

 

The documents obtained under RTI are attached to this post.

Appointment of Habibullah as Member, WB.PDF

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