Public Information Policy
Title of the PPR
 
Public Information Policy
 
Authority
Effective Date
 
Board of Directors
29 May 2008
 
History

 
The Board of Directors Decision No. BD2008-12-01, 29 May 2008
 
Related Policies
and Information
 
Corporate Governance
 
 
Public Information Policy
 
Content:
1. Principles and Objectives of the Public Information Policy
2. Disclosure Categories
2.1 Core Documents
2.2 General Information and Publications
2.3 Strategy and Policy Documents
2.4 Operations Information
2.5 Financial Information
2.6 Research and Database
2.7 Information on the Bank’s Organization and Corporate Governance
3. Constraints to Public Disclosure of Information
4. Implementation and Monitoring of the Policy

ANNEX I: Rules for Public Access to Documents & Complaints

1. Principles and Objectives of the Public Information Policy

The Economic Cooperation Organisation Trade and Development Bank’s (the Bank) Public Information Policy sets the main principles and objectives of the Bank in terms of achieving an active public information policy to improve knowledge and understanding of its mission and activities. Bank’s aims in setting this policy are (i) to reach the public at large as well as specific interest groups, including public and private sector economic operators, the banking sector, any other relevant institution and/or its shareholders, and (ii) to provide the greatest possible degree of transparency and accountability in its activities to ensure the success of the Bank’s mission and sustain public support for the Bank, while recognizing important legal and practical constraints.

The Bank’s Public Information Policy is based on the following principles:

1.1 Transparency- Providing information on the ECO Region and the Bank’s policies, activities and procedures to the maximum extent possible.

1.2 Compliance with the Bank’s mandate- The Bank is an international financial institution established by its Member States to promote economic development and regional cooperation in the Member States of the Economic Cooperation Organisation. The Bank is accountable to its shareholders, and has an obligation to be responsive to their questions and concerns.

1.3 Accountability and Governance- The Bank is committed to reinforce its accountability to ensure high standards of corporate governance.

1.4 Sharing of information- As a development institution, the Bank wishes to stimulate discussion, and the sharing of information on issues concerning economic development and regional cooperation, with particular reference to the ECO  Region. Aside from provision- and mobilization- of financial resources and its contribution towards the mitigation of specific risks that hinder economic activity and cooperation, facilitating the exchange of information is among the most significant activities that an international financial institution can undertake. This may involve any number of data dissemination and knowledge sharing activities including such items as (i) dissemination of the best practices, (ii) facilitating the introduction of new products, skills and/or methods, (iii) establishing databases of information on the ECO  Region which are available for use, exchange, and supplementation by other parties with an interest in the Region, (iv) filling information gaps and facilitating the creation of business and economic networks so as to further investment, trade and related economic activities in the ECO  Region, and (v) other activities of a promotional or exchange facilitating character.

1.5 Respect for clients and sensitivity towards legitimate business needs- The Bank has a duty to protect the business interests of sponsors and clients with whom it works. It seeks to respect confidentiality in line with established practice covering business contracts and market activity and to respect the private, commercial and market-sensitive interests of its business counterparts. This includes maintaining the confidentiality necessary to develop business initiatives when private resources are at stake.
- The Bank shall adopt best practice in providing information through its own sources and by establishing relationships with opinion leaders, information multipliers and networks.
- The Bank shall also take into account the necessity to avoid compromising the integrity of its decision-making process and the privacy and independence of its staff.
- The Bank shall not disclose information that it determines to be confidential or sensitive. Any information that is indicated to be confidential or sensitive by a country, client or co-financing institution shall be treated as such. The Bank shall strictly observe agreements with third parties on the maintenance of confidential information.
- The availability to the public of information pursuant to this policy shall not be construed as an express or implied waiver of the privileges and immunities afforded to the Bank pursuant to the provisions of the Articles of Agreement establishing the Bank and the Headquarters Agreement between the Republic of Turkey and the Bank, including those regarding the inviolability of the Bank’s archives, or of the laws of any of its member countries.
The basic objectives of the policy are to:
1. Broaden understanding of the Bank’s role among the Member States, private and public sector actors, other co-financiers, non-governmental organizations, academics and the public at large to strengthen awareness and support for the Bank and its mission;
2. Encourage public dialogue and related professionals focus on the Bank’s policies and operations, generating new and varied perspectives;
3. Provide additional opportunities for research, expansion and dissemination of knowledge, the sharing of information and informed feedback and dialogue with the development community and with actors interested in the ECO  Region.
4. Ensure appropriate local participation and support for better implementation and sustainability of operations whenever possible;
5. Facilitate co-ordination with other parties interested in the common goal of development of the ECO  Region and the increase in cross-country cooperation therein; and
6. Increase the Bank’s accountability as a publicly funded, internationally owned institution, and ensure transparency for purposes of good governance.
 
2. Disclosure Categories

This Policy recognizes eight distinct information categories:

2.1 Core Documents

2.2 General Information and Publications

2.3 Strategy and Policy Documents

2.4 Operations Information

2.5 Financial Information

2.6 Research and Database

2.7 Information on the Bank’s Organization and Corporate Governance
 
The following categories of disclosure may be made subject to the provisions and qualifications described below:

2.1 Core Documents
 
- Articles of Agreement establishing the ECO Trade and Development Bank. This document is the Bank’s charter;
- Headquarters Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the ECO Trade and Development Bank.
- By-Laws of the ECO Trade and Development Bank;
- Rules of Procedure of the Board of Governors;
- Rules of Procedure of the Board of Directors;

2.2 General Information and Publications
 
The Bank provides general information on itself as an institution and its activities through its website , publications, presentations, and public statements. The information in this category is updated from time to time as necessary and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
The Bank’s Annual Report- An annual review of the Bank’s operations for each financial year, its contribution to regional development and cooperation, its financial statements and results as approved by its governing bodies. All lending and borrowing activities are summarized in the report together with a list of financed operations, amounts of loans and names of operation promoters;
General publications (brochures, facts sheets, newsletters, etc.);
Information on working/ financing with the Bank and related documentation intended for potential clients, sponsors and co-financiers who may be interested in cooperating operationally with the Bank. This includes Guidelines documentation for issues such as Procurement, Disbursement, Environmental Issues, etc.
Historical Information about the Bank and the ECO Region;
Bank’s press releases; Articles, interviews, reviews, research documents and publications in journals, periodicals, and/or the international and local press;
Materials from, and proceedings of, (a) forums, (b) staff member participation in conferences, seminars, and other external events, and (c) fairs and exhibitions.

2.3 Strategy and Policy Documents
 
Although not all strategic and policy documents prepared by the Bank represent public information, the Bank seeks to make publicly available as many of its strategy and policy documents as possible, in order to improve information sharing and to let  interested parties better understand the Bank, its objectives, and its activities. Subject to the approval of the Management Committee, strategy and policy documents, approved by the Board of Directors- either in full or in summary format- will then be posted for public information.

2.4 Operations Information
 
Information on an Operation
There are two types of information produced for each operation, the Operation Summary Document (OSD) and the press release for the operation.
The OSD for an operation is drafted by the related originating Department, on the basis of operation information submitted by the Operation Team. OSDs for operations in both the private and public sectors will be posted on the Bank’s website following the approval of the operation by the Board of Directors, unless there are good reasons for maintaining confidentiality (particularly for private sector operations). In such cases, the OSD will be posted at the time of the signing of the final agreement. OSDs will not contain confidential information without the client’s prior consent, and they may be updated from time to time to reflect important changes or the most recent stage of the operations.
The press release for an operation is prepared by ERBM on the basis of the OSD. The final text of the press release is approved by the Vice President in charge of the operation and the Vice President supervising the ERBM. The general rule on the timing of issuing press releases for operations is that they are also to be released after the approval of the operation by the Bank’s Board of Directors. However, if there are good reasons for maintaining confidentiality, as per the OSD (particularly for private sector operations), the release may be delayed until the signing of the Operation. In any event, press releases will not contain confidential information without the client’s prior consent.
Operation Evaluation Documents
The Bank will release properly adapted summaries of evaluation reports, reviews and special studies that will not include commercially confidential information. This information will be prepared by the Evaluation Department.
Summary of Operations
The Bank’s operational portfolio will be made available on a quarterly basis, after review by the Board of Directors. This information will normally contain figures of approved and signed operations by Member States, sectors, and products. The information is collected and presented by the Project Implementation and Monitoring Department, on the basis of timely submissions from the Banking Division. ERBM is responsible for posting the information, once received.

2.5 Financial Information

The Bank shall publish the Annual Report containing an audit statement of its account and any financial report related to its operation.

2.6 Research and Database

The Bank would have  a large and growing database of statistics, news, and other information on the ECO  Region, in line with its efforts to promote greater attention, to improve information sharing, and to expand knowledge on issues related to, or concentrating upon, the ECO  Region. The Bank also conducts its own studies and research from time to time either for internal or external use. Availability of such information is guided by the Rules for Public Access to Documents (Annex I). In the cases of information obtained from subscriptions or copyrighted information, the Bank abides by the rules covering the subscription and applicable copyright laws.

2.7 Information on the Bank’s Organization and Corporate Governance

In addition to core documents, Annual Reports, and the some policies which outline the structure of the Bank, key achievements and strategic directions, there are additional organizational and corporate governance related documents which are publicly available. They include such as (i) the list of Member States, their voting power, and the respective members of the Board of Governors and Board of Directors; (ii) recruitment announcements, and (iii) the Bank’s broad objectives in recruiting, employing, training and retaining staff. Availability of other organization and corporate governance information is guided by the Rules for Public Access to Documents (See Annex I).
 
3. Constraints to Public Disclosure of Information
 
The Public Information Policy is based on the presumption that information concerning the Bank’s operational activities will be made available to the public in the absence of a compelling reason for confidentiality. In other words, the Bank shall endeavor to make all information available except where bound by confidentiality agreements, or where the case for confidentiality can be justified.
The Bank provides for the greatest possible degree of transparency and disclosure in all areas and aspects of its operations in implementing its Public Information Policy within the limits of legal and practical constraints. To deal with these constraints, the Bank permits particularly sensitive information, which falls into one of the following categories to be classified as “confidential” and/or restrict its circulation and availability:
Information provided to the Bank on a confidential basis by a government, co-financier or private party, or that is governed by an agreement or understanding between the Bank and such party or parties.
Documentation or proprietary information which is the legal property of other parties, including trade secrets and pricing information.
Documents intended for internal purposes only, prepared by Bank staff or management, including initial negotiating positions and various committee deliberations, may be restricted to ensure free exchange of views within the Bank, and avoid external interference in its internal processes of deliberation, preparation and decision-making.
Communication between the Bank and its Member States, particularly in respect of policy dialogue on matters considered sensitive or critical, may be privileged and therefore not be made public;
Information that, if disclosed, might represent a violation of law or which might be a threat to the national security of Member States;
Proceedings of the Board of Directors and committees thereof, except when the Board decides to authorize the President to arrange for publicity on any matter relating thereto;
Privileged information such as legal advice and correspondence with external legal and other advisers;
Information related to procurement processes, including pre-qualification information submitted by prospective bidders, tenders, proposals or price quotations, or records of deliberative processes;
Financial, business or proprietary information of sponsors, clients and related entities received by the Bank for the preparation, analysis or negotiation of operations, unless permission is given by those entities to release this information.
Personal information about staff shall also be classified for protection as the Bank has a general obligation to establish and maintain the confidentiality of such information.
While the Bank is dedicated to providing information publicly on its policies, activities, and procedures to the maximum extent possible, it also has a duty to protect the business interests of the sponsors, clients and other organizational entities with whom it finances operations, projects, and programs. The parties with which the Bank deals operate in competitive markets where information often plays a significant role in business. In order to work with the Bank, they entrust proprietary information the leakage or disclosure of which might harm the party’s business interests. Therefore, respecting confidentiality of information in certain cases is not merely justified, it is the obligation of the Bank. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:
Instances where a client is considering an investment or transaction which would confer first-mover advantages in a market;
Commercially sensitive information concerning issues such as trade secrets, pricing strategies, market entry strategy, cost structures, product positioning, etc.;
Instances where a decision by the Bank whether or not to finance an operation could in and of itself be price sensitive information, or affect the reputation of the operation, the client, or co-financiers, especially where such decision is due not to questions regarding the viability or sustainability of the operation, but for reasons relating to the Bank’s own mandate, strategies, or other internal decision making mechanisms.
Other information that Bank’s management determines to be confidential or sensitive.
Documents may be classified “For Official Use Only” if the head of the originating department or office concerned determines them to contain sensitive information meant for the internal use of the Bank and believes that the release of such information could interfere with policies or regulations of the Bank or jeopardize its relations with its members, borrowers or other business partners. But the head of department concerned may, with the approval of the President, declassify such documents at any time.
With respect to historical information, the following categories of archives will not be available for public access at any time:
- all personnel, individual records and medical information relating to Bank staff and officials,
- proceedings of deliberations of internal staff grievance / appeal mechanisms, including records of the Administrative Tribunal and similar bodies, except to the extent permitted by the Bank’s staff rules, as amended from time to time (this is distinct from the disclosure of the summary of a case to be used as reference by other staff members and/or by other institutions);
- Information that: (i) would involve an unreasonable disclosure of personal affairs; (ii) might prove defamatory; (iii) might prejudice the safety of Bank staff or the integrity of Bank property; (iv) might prejudice a current investigation into a breach of law; and (v) might have a significant adverse effect on current dealings with Member States.
 
4. Implementation and Monitoring of the Policy
 
Successful implementation of the Public Information Policy will require ensuring compliance, through internal accountability and ongoing monitoring. Responsibility for proper implementation of this Policy lies with the relevant divisions and departments according to their functions and responsibilities. This includes the following:
The Vice-President responsible for Operations, assisted as necessary by other concerned department of the Bank, will oversee and verify compliance with the Policy. This includes any department/unit handling the internal compliance function of the Bank.
The President enjoys the authority to make the final decision about the disclosure of the information.
The Policy will be subject to review from time to time, especially in regard to such matters as the incorporation of best practices and the definition of confidentiality. Such reviews will be made publicly available (including by posting on the Bank’s website).
In regard to such matters as the release of OSDs, any exceptions can only be authorized by the Management Committee. If the OSD has not been issued three months after Board Approval of the operation, the Board of Directors must be notified.
As part of the monitoring process, the Bank will maintain close contact with other international financial institutions (IFIs), benefiting from feedback on their experiences in the application of public information policies, and adapting its approach where appropriate, taking into account its mandate and business profile as well as prevailing best practices.
 
ANNEX I: Rules for Public Access to Documents
 
The rules under this section apply where members of the public address the Bank with requests for documents held by the Bank which have not been prepared for the purpose of publication.
In line with the principles and objectives of this Public Information Policy, the Bank is committed to an active information policy and will continue and strengthen its efforts to provide the public with general information about its activities, policies and practice. It recognizes that under the requirements of good administration, documents should be publicly available to the maximum extent possible, and any denial of access to documents should be justified by reference to rules laid down in advance. With this in mind, the Bank has adopted the following rules for requests for documents that are not published or publicly posted:
Official requests for documents shall be addressed to the External Relations and BoG, BoD Meetings Department (ERBM) of the Bank . From time to time, other Bank staff members are likely to receive requests for documents either unofficially or ‘semi-officially’. In such instances, it is incumbent upon the staff-member to refer this request to the ERBM Department. In cases of ambiguity or where any uncertainty exists as to the propriety of the request, it is the responsibility of the ERBM Department to refer to this Policy and/ or to obtain the clearance of the respective Head of Department and, if necessary, the Management Committee.
All requests shall be answered within reasonable time. Denials shall be justified by reference to these rules.
Requests for documents shall be acted upon only where the applicant has adequately identified himself/herself, the object of the request as well as the purpose for which the request is made. Other requests shall be dismissed. Repeated requests may be dismissed, if a regular and adequate response has already been provided.
The Bank may require an undertaking by the applicant not to use documents provided for any purpose referred to in the preceding paragraph, nor to forward them to anyone for such a purpose.
An applicant may be charged with a fee to cover the costs arising from the making available of documents requested.
Where the Bank has reason to believe that the identity of the applicant or the purpose of the request have been misrepresented, or that the request has been made in pursuit of commercial objectives or other motives which do not accord with purposes that underlie the principle of transparency, the request shall be rejected.
Public access to any record in which any external entity or person has property rights will be provided subject to and consistent with such property rights. Public access will not be provided to any record that was provided to the Bank on the understanding that it would not be disclosed outside the Bank without the prior consent of the source.
For information which originates outside the Bank and which is known, or can be presumed, to be in the public domain, the applicant may be referred to the origin of the document or to any other known source where the document may be available.
Any document containing information about third parties shall not be disclosed, where the information has been identified to the Bank as being confidential, or is covered by an undertaking of confidentiality made by the Bank, or where the information is otherwise of such a nature that it is subject to the Bank’s duty of confidentiality toward third parties. This also precludes, even in the absence of specific undertaking or identification of confidentiality, the disclosure of documents containing information about third parties, including bodies such as Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) or its institutions or international organizations with which the Bank has relationships, where the information concerned is not in the public domain.
No exception from the rules is possible without the written authorization of the person or body for whose protection the information concerned is confidential.
The Bank shall not make available any document containing information the release of which would be contrary to the rules and practices prevailing in the financial markets or would prejudice the equal treatment of investors.
Complaints
If a requester for information believes that the Policy has been interpreted improperly, a request for review may be submitted in writing to the External Relations and BoD, BoG Meetings Department (ERBM).
ERBM shall acknowledge receipt of a request and deal with it as soon as possible. In considering denials of requested information, it will consider the Policy’s exceptions to making information publicly available, as well as the public’s interest in disclosure of the requested information. ERBM shall notify the requester of their decision in writing, giving their reasons, as soon as a decision has been made and, in any event within a reasonable time after receiving the request. It shall make a list of all such requests, the nature of each request, and the decision taken in each case publicly available on a rolling basis.


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