CoST at IACC: Tackling corruption in public infrastructure

CoST joined more than 1,600 delegates from around 130 countries at the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference (17IACC) in Panama City, Panama, with one common call: the time for Justice, Equity, Security, and Trust is now. From the launch of the new CoST Panama programme to CoST panel discussions and a CoST evening reception, we ensured that infrastructure was at the forefront of the anti-corruption agenda. The CoST Board and International Secretariat was by CoST colleagues from Afghanistan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Panama and Ukraine.

CoST kicked off the call for justice, equity, security and trust in public infrastructure with a high-level panel discussion on the impact of transparency in public infrastructure across Latin America. With expert insights from across government, industry and civil society, the panel comprised: Angelica Maytin, National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI) in Panama; Alfredo Cantero, Presidential Director for Special Projects at the Ministry of the Presidency in Honduras; Álvaro Zepeda, Former President of the Guatemalan Chamber of Construction; Alejandro Salas, Americas Regional Director for Transparency International.

Both Angelica Maytin and Alejandro Salas made a strong case for CoST’s expansion in the region, with Alejandro proclaiming that Latin America needs CoST as it has the greatest levels of inequality. Alfredo Cantero and Álvaro Zepeda complemented these calls by outlining the successes and impacts they have experienced as members of the CoST Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) in Honduras and Guatemala respectively. Alfredo provided a hard-hitting example whereby CoST Honduras had identified one bridge project that was being funded by the same Bank twice.

Following the panel, CoST Panama officially announced their membership to CoST and were welcomed by the Board, International Secretariat and CoST countries of the region. Panama’s membership demonstrates the country’s commitment to delivering justice through the development of equity, security and trust in public infrastructure. The Government has already earmarked 19 projects worth over US$675 million of public investment for the first phase of CoST implementation.

As the lead applicant to CoST and the representative hosts of the 17IACC, the announcement was made by the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI). Angelica Maytin, Director General of ANTAI, said: “We will create fair competitive conditions for the private sector to reduce the costs and risks of doing business and strengthen the collaborative work of government, the private sector and civil society.” The announcement was followed by a CoST evening reception to celebrate the initiative’s newest member and the advances of infrastructure transparency in the region. To find out more about CoST in Panama, check out this video from ANTAI!

CoST rounded off the 17IACC with contributions to a panel discussion and workshop session on the last day. Firstly, Bernadine Fernz joined EITI and others to make the case for sectoral transparency initiatives, outlining how CoST had seen success in developing relatively narrow mandates into much wider commitments to open government. CoST Honduras Country Manager, Evelyn Hernandez, then joined the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) to share insights on how Honduras is making open data actionable and engaging citizens for real results on the ground.

CoST is honoured to have participated in the 17IACC and would welcome the opportunity to work with delegates to strengthen transparency in public infrastructure delivery in their countries. Furthermore, CoST commits to the Panama Declaration. We will deliver justice through global partnerships. We will tackle the inequalities caused by corruption. We will strengthen the space for civil society. And we will build trust between stakeholders. Now is the time for justice, equity, security and trust in public infrastructure.