OGP in the News – Week of November 6, 2017
A weekly round-up of Open Government Partnership (OGP) media coverage around the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox? Subscribe here.
From EITI developments in the United States and Ghana to Indonesia’s open government journey, this week’s OGP media coverage touched all corners of the world.
National Public Radio and many other American news outlets reported that the United States has withdrawn from the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). In a letter to the EITI board, U.S. Office of Natural Resources Revenue Director Gregory Gould explained the Trump administration’s decision, citing the fact that “EITI does not fully account for the U.S. legal framework” as a primary reason for the United States’ withdrawal. The article noted that former U.S. president Barack Obama committed to EITI six year ago at OGP’s launch event in September 2011, promising to ensure that “taxpayers receive every dollar they’re due from the extraction of natural resources.” Although the United States will remain a supporting member of the extractive initiative, EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt said the decision “sends the wrong signal.”
On a more positive note for extractives, Ghana was recognized for its EITI progress at a Beneficial Ownership Disclosure conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. According to Modern Ghana, the country was one of 52 nations awarded by EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt for successfully implementing or making considerable progress toward implementing a beneficial ownership register (as was the case with Ghana). In 2016, Ghana passed the Companies Act with provisions to establish a national beneficial ownership register—considered an essential safeguard against procurement violations, price manipulation, and tax evasion. Part of the county’s OGP commitments, Ghana’s EITI gains are also wins for open government.
Latvia launched its latest OGP National Action Plan (NAP). In an opinion piece for Latvian Public Media, researcher Iveta Kažoka describes some of the plan’s most promising commitments, such as using visualizations of the national budget to promote fiscal transparency, publicizing procurement information for state-owned businesses, and making administrative processes more efficient. While the author recognizes that, ideally, the motivation to fight corruption and involve citizens in government decision-making should come from within, she says OGP can provide the kind of external pressure needed to follow through on these efforts. Calling for successful implementation of Latvia’s new OGP commitments, the author writes, “If politicians, government officials and public activists join forces to help make the plan meaningful, after two years, changes will be felt.”
In Nigeria, meanwhile, civil society groups are demanding that the government disclose the details of a refunded loan from the London Paris Club totalling N388.304. According to an article in Vanguard, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has been leading the charge for greater transparency. Because the money was distributed among 35 Nigerian states, the government argues that the states have “exclusive control” over all information about how the refunded loan was spent. Invoking OGP in a counter argument, SERAP representatives said, “There must be transparency and accountability in the spending of the refunds, in line with the principle of Open Government Partnership (OGP) to which Nigeria is a signatory.”
The 2017 Asia Pacific Leaders Forum on Open Government will be taking place in Jakarta on December 14. Leading up to the event, GovInsider heard more about Indonesia’s open government journey from Raden Siliwanti, Director for the State Apparatus of the Ministry of National Development Planning. Noting that Indonesia was a founding member of OGP, Siliwanti described how the country has since implemented several transformative open government reforms, including the national complaint-handling mechanism LAPOR!. Reflecting on lessons learned, Siliwanti said, “If there is one thing that Indonesia’s journey has taught us, it is that open government helps us to formulate accurate and effective development plans.” He hopes the Asia Pacific Leaders Forum 2017 (#APLF2017) will be an opportunity to exchange more valuable open government lessons.
Last but not least, still searching for your #opengov elevator pitch? Canada’s Treasury Board Secretariat produced a short film with great one-line explanations of open government here.
Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.