THE World Bank (WB) has recently cited the Department of Agriculture's (DA) anti-poverty program information initiatives as it is aligned with the bank's transparency and open data policy.

Maryse Gautier, WB's portfolio and operations manager, said the development of Mindanao Rural Development Program's (MRDP) website is a proactive approach towards promotion of greater transparency which is one of the bases of good governance.

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MRDP is a long-term poverty alleviation initiative for Mindanao implemented by the DA and jointly funded by the WB, national, and local government units.

"I visited the MRDP site and (I find) it as the same logic with the bank's access to information initiatives [AI] and we hope other projects of the bank will also follow," Gautier said.

Gautier along with other WB officials convened last week their government partners in Manila for a discussion-forum on its new AI policy which will take effect July this year.

The AI policy is one of the several major reforms that the Bank is undertaking to improve its effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability.

In the same forum, MRDP deputy program director Arnel de Mesa presented the program's information disclosure initiative, which is basically done through its website:

MRDP was the lone government project asked to present its AI initiatives over various portfolios from agriculture, environment, energy, health, and education.

"Apart from being a promotional tool, we are also using our website in promoting transparency to our stakeholders. For instance, interested bidders can inquire about on-going bidding as well as download bidding documents," de Mesa said adding that printable instructional materials, forms and document templates including news and program updates are also available and accessible for its site visitors.

De Mesa said with very minimal investment on web development, responses from the bidders had been encouraging as bidders participation increased and widened not only within Mindanao but as far as Cebu in the Visayas.

The MRDP website is also linked to various government websites better collaboration as well as to strengthen the program's feedback mechanism.

Gautier who is also the WB's focal person for AI initiative said the MRDP website shows that the bank's AI policy can happen on the ground and hopes that the same thing could happen to their other funded projects.

"As a development finance institution, the bank strives for greater transparency about the projects and programs it is supporting to enhance the quality of its operations. As an intergovernmental organization owned by member countries including the Philippines, the bank is accountable for public money and has the obligation to be responsive to the inquiries and concerns of its shareholders," Gautier said.