At a time of growing public distrust in governments and established institutions in different parts of the globe, what role can multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank play to reestablish confidence while ensuring service delivery to citizens?
Since its founding in 2011, the Open Government Partnership has amassed a huge following: 75 member governments and thousands of partner civil society organizations and multilateral institutions, including the ADB, which joined the platform in 2014.
The platform has also seen numerous commitments translated to real initiatives that transformed government budgets, service delivery and relationships between governments and their citizenry. In Mongolia, for example, introduction of two-way assessments and open dialogue between service providers and citizens led to faster and better service delivery in the areas of health, waste disposal and water access. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, tax collection grew after citizens found government was spending in improving roads, or repairing schools, as was set out in the initial budget allocation.
But not everyone, certainly not all countries that are part of the OGP, has adopted such initiatives meant to improve fiscal transparency and citizen budget participation, said Sanjay Pradhan, chief executive officer of the Open Government Partnership.
“Our goal is to get more countries to adopt these transformational initiatives,” he told Devex at the ADB’s 50th annual meeting in Yokohama, Japan. A second goal is to get more countries to join the platform. The large bulk of governments that are members of the OGP are still from richer nations in North America, Latin America and Europe. The third is to get more multilateral partners on board.
“We have a set of multilateral partners already that we’re working with. We have to reach out to a lot more. We have not yet explicitly reached out to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or the new development bank, but we intend to,” Pradhan said.
Current partners such as the ADB, which has been a member of the OGP since 2014, have hosted knowledge sharing events on open government. The ADB is also currently working on several technical assistance programs to boost transparency and create citizen awareness in supported projects in Armenia and Indonesia, Pradhan said.
But the ADB can do more to boost government transparency and allow for more public participation in projects it provides funding for.
“If you’re doing a roads project, rather than just enhancing the project, why not get the government to disclose where the roads are supposed to be, what’s the quality of the roads, and empower civil society to get citizen feedback [on] whether the roads are being built where they are supposed to be, whether textbooks are showing up in school, and ensuring through the project that the government responds to the citizen feedback closing the feedback loop?” said Pradhan.
Watch the interview below for more of our conversation on the push for government openness, transparency and citizen participation in Asia.
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