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03/03/2003 | Watchers of the World Turn Their Eyes to IDB

Martin Edwin Andersen

Good-government and environmental activists from three continents have written to Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Enrique Iglesias to complain about a "general lack of transparency and effectiveness" in the bank's Independent Investigation Mechanism (IIM).

 

The creation of IIM, the letter notes, was meant to "afford people whose lives stand to be affected by projects financed by the IDB a means to ensure that due diligence has been exercised by the bank in the design, analysis and negotiation of those projects. Unfortunately, the IIM operates with limited transparency and no clear timelines, and as a result the claimants and others have significant concerns about how these cases are being processed."

The complaints came amid growing concerns heard about the effectiveness of the IDB auditor-general's office in investigating wrongdoing, and an apparent showdown between senior bank management and Steve Quick, the evaluations-department head credited with restoring the integrity of that office.

The groups that lent their names to the letter came from 11 countries, including the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica, and several from South America and Europe. They noted that the oversight body was created after the bank -- which is supported by American taxpayers -- had received operating funds from the U.S. Congress following assurances that "disclosure of information and transparency of operations is an important element in ensuring accountability."

The letter points to problems in the handling of three cases already brought before the IIM, which has neither its own budget nor permanent staff. All of them are "consistent" procedural problems revealing "systemic flaws" in the body's operations that prevent it from becoming an "effective accountability mechanism." Currently the IIM has three claims pending action, including one concerning the Yacyreta hydroelectric project in Argentina, dubbed by that country's former president Carlos Menem a "monument to corruption." The others are in Mexico and Brazil.

Martin Edwin Andersen is a reporter for Insight. Readers can reach him with tips on governmental waste, fraud and abuse of power at InsightWatchers@aol.com.

Insight Magazine (Estados Unidos)

 

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