Biju Govind

Provisions for whistleblower protection

Identity of persons to be kept confidential

Bid to realise the development goals

Kozhikode: The Asian Development Bank (ADB), a major funding agency for several projects in the State, has come out with internal rules to protect those who report integrity violations or misconduct in ADB or in ADB-related activities.

Official sources say that under the ‘ADB whistleblower and witness protection’ provisions, both the ADB staff and those outside the ADB can report on violations or misconduct.

The new internal regulations specify the measures that the ADB will take to avoid or to counter any threats to those who provide information on misconduct. The agency will keep the identity of the whistleblower confidential, unless the whistleblower opts for a waiver.

Kozhikode city is implementing six major projects for Rs.127 crore under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP). All these are financed by the ADB. These include road transportation network, solid waste management, storm water management system, drainage and social development.

Several multi-crore KSUDP projects are being implemented in five municipal corporations in the State. By the new system, the ADB is strengthening its ongoing efforts to combat fraud and corruption, officials say.

At the same time, individuals who come forward with information will receive protection from any retaliation.

The new provisions were finalised following extensive consultations with experts within and outside the ADB and after draft provisions were made available for public comment for a three-month period last year.

The ADB has already begun implementing sweeping changes in the way it does business to improve the quality and responsiveness of its work. Starting this January, business processes are being streamlined to make them more efficient, to lower transaction costs, and to enable the ADB to respond swiftly to client needs. The improvements will help the ADB realise the development goals laid out under its long-term strategic framework in order to achieve its overarching vision of a region free of poverty.

The need to strengthen business processes has been highlighted by the sharp increase in volume of ADB funding in recent years.

The reforms also reflect calls from ADB clients to improve its response time to their requests, and the need for increased aid harmonisation with other development partners.

Among the changes are categorising projects, based on risk, to speed up delivery time, improved loan processing procedures, simplified documentation requirements, and the development of an electronic knowledge repository. Adjustments in the preparation of country partnership strategies will make the process less time-consuming and help minimise costs.

The changes will result in improvements in knowledge management and the use of resources. They will help decentralise decision making and align ADB’s business processes with best international practices for development assistance.

The streamlining is being introduced in phases from January, with the new processes expected to be fully in place by the start of the second quarter, officials say.