Open Government Partnership launched in 2011 turned to very popular initiative in very short term. Having wide agenda, it actually included all aspects of transparency, accountability and participation. OGP has grown from 8 countries to the 66 participating countries in 4 years only. It also became an initiative with direct support from many governments and international organizations.
photo (8)]Eurasia region countries such as Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Mongolia, Turkey, Georgia also joined to OGP. However there are particular gaps resulted in low level effectiveness of OGP in Eurasia so far. Not many countries in Eurasia became OGP members; reasons were different starting from not being eligible, and ending with lack of funding. But mostly observed reason almost in all countries was lack of government will and understanding of OGP. Even OGP member countries, excluding Georgia and Ukraine did not show great activeness. CSO in these countries was also not active and in some cases OGP CSO platform did not include right people or organizations.
Above mentioned ideas and conclusions were discussed and made during OGP Extractives Workshop, organized by NRGI Eurasia Office in Istanbul, on October 22-24th.
Together with discussing potential role of OGP CSO experts and OSF foundation staff members from 6 countries of Eurasia came together to get understanding of how extractives can be connected to OGP, which seems another promising tool for transparency, accountability and participation.
Different experts including Veronica Cretu (OGP Steering Committee Member), Paul Maassen (OGP CSO coordinator), Murray Petrie (OGP Fiscal Transparency working group, GIFT expert), Kenan Aslanli (OGP IRM expert), Suneeta Kaimal (NRGI COO, OGP Steering Committee member), Volodymyr Tarnai (Center for Political Studies and Analyses, Ukraine)[cid:F2A917AE-3DDB-4A18-8876-34A9C4159B3E] worked together with workshop participants for 3 days to explain concept of OGP, eligibility criteria, CSO’s role, independent reporting mechanism, look at experience of other countries, as well as possible effects from OGP implementation, compare OGP to other T&A initiatives and to help to understand fiscal transparency commitments within OGP.
In practical sessions participants worked on advocacy strategies for OGP membership, or improvement of quality of OGP implementation, discussed existing CSO platforms and their shortcomings, as well as participation of media and MPs in OGP, worked out potential commitments for their countries national action plans.
“OGP could be a tool to claim more transparency and accountability from government to fulfil its legislative and international commitments. OGP is ideal to set clear deadlines and actions” – said Bakytbek Satybekov, an expert from Kyrgyzstan.
One of the most important topics discussed during the workshop was connection of OGP to extractives, since all participating countries were resource dependent. Present problems related to commodity process proved again in resource depending countries the whole economy depends on correct management of extractives and revenues from this sector. In other words, “fiscal” term for such countries couldn’t have not included extractives component. Accordingly i) information and ii) participation become even more important for extractive countries, thus making such tools as OGP extremely useful.
The workshop participants had very deep brain storming on what information related to extractives could become an OGP commitment under fiscal transparency block. There were quite good ideas related to contract transparency, information on segregated extractive and non-extractive revenues in budget documents, information of SWF assets management, beneficiary ownership, etc.
Separate proposals were on State owned Enterprises, including detailed and disaggregated tax collection data by activity types of SoE, simplified/user friendly version of SoE financial documents, openness of financial reports of SoE subsidiaries, affiliates and joint ventures, procurement policy and contracts of SoE, inclusion of revenue and expenditures structure of SoE to budget pack and information on SoE investment plans.
Participating in OGP actually did not create huge burden for government, since most of information is already produced, hence OGP sets way to pass those data to public in systematic and regular manner” – mentioned Dorjdari Namkhaijantsan, NRGI’s Mongolia country manager.
At the end workshop participants discussed follow up activities, possible support from Foundations, mobilization of CSO, possible advocacy event for officials and other stakeholders for next period and contributions to country national action plans by CSO.
Several workshop participants will join OGP Summit to be held on October 27-30 in Mexico. It would be an additional chance to discuss ideas developed during Istanbul workshop, get feedback from colleagues and start new collaboration for increasing quality of OGP implementation in region.
Fidan Bagirova | Senior Officer, Eurasia
Natural Resource Governance Institute