El Salvador is the first new country to join CoST since the launch of its international programme late last year.
At a recent press conference in San Salvador, Gerson Martinez Minister of Public Works and John Hawkins, Programme Manager CoST International Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Housing to disclosing information on at least three high profile construction projects over the next 18 months. It is then anticipated that this programme will be expanded to other public investment projects carried out by the Ministry and the Highway Conservation Fund. The Ministry has also agreed to establish a multi-stakeholder group with the participation of the private sector and civil society to lead the development of CoST El Salvador.
In 2009, the EL Salvador Ministry of Public Works had debts of $43m with 80% of its contracts paralysed by legal problems. Since then it has embarked on a reform programme based on the principles of transparency and ethical behaviour, with the result that the number of law suits against the Ministry has reduced to zero in the last 4 years under the leadership of Minister Martinez.
Gerson Martinez, Minister of Public Works, has been working to ensure that the country meets the criteria to become a member of the initiative, and believes that being a part of it will be a boon to the country’s development: ‘I am delighted that we can now officially announce our membership of CoST. Our commitment to CoST is an important next step in getting better outcomes from our investment in public infrastructure. We are proud to stand alongside the founder CoST countries, and look forward to seeing the positive impact within our own economy for our citizens.’
Christiaan Poortman, Chair of the CoST Board, said: ‘I warmly welcome El Salvador to CoST. CoST has proved adaptable in diverse environments and I’m certain that it will further strengthen the measures that Minister Martinez has already put in place. As CoST continues to expand, each new member country will be able to learn from and share experiences with others, shaping the systems and processes to meet their precise needs. I know that El Salvador will help to play an important part in this’.