Elfaro.net recently reported that the Salvadoran Ministry of Public Works (MOP) is preparing to adopt mechanisms that will increase their transparency. The MOP will launch the program on August 31, making all information about public works and related contracts open to the public. The program will also create a watchdog group to oversee implementation of the program and monitor the MOP projects and contracts. President Funes, the Minister of Public Works, the Salvadoran Chamber of the Construction Industry (Casalco), the National Development Foundation, and the Salvadoran Chapter of Transparency International all signed onto the transparency agreement.
Raúl Torres of Transparency International identified three criteria that must be met in order to achieve transparency: 1) open access to information from MOP and Casalco; 2) explanations of accounts from the Ministry and Casalco; and 3) active citizenry that is aware of how their tax money is being spent. Mr. Torres continued that the watchdog group will function on at least two levels. One special committee will have the authority to watch over all activities, while another committee that includes churches, academics, journalists, and internationals will produce related reports.
Mr. Torres also stressed that as one of the least transparent part of the government, the MOP has facilitated much corruption in the past. When President Funes nominated Gerson Martínez to serve as Minister of Public Works, they agreed that one of the main points of business was to address the issue of corruption. When they took office, the Minister reached out to Transparency International to work on the project. They have worked on similar initiatives in Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, with good results.