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Developing Countries: Construction

Volume 461: debated on Monday 18 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding and resources the UK has pledged to the construction sector transparency initiative. (142533)

Working with partners internationally and in a number of developing countries, DFID has led the development of the construction sector transparency initiative (CoST).

Corruption and inefficiency caused by corruption wastes billions of dollars of public money and leads to poor quality schools, hospitals and roads which do not meet people’s needs.

CoST aims to make sure people get good quality, sustainable infrastructure at a reasonable price from the money which Government spend on their behalf. The starting point will be provision of clear information which allows the public to compare original contract commitments about price and quality of planned infrastructure with the actual results—allowing them to ask the right questions about any wastage or poor, or non-existent, work.

Working with stakeholders in Vietnam, Ghana and Tanzania, as well as international partners (European Commission, World Bank, and others), industry and international civil society, we now have an outline design ready to be tested through country pilots.

CoST builds on the success of the extractive industries transparency initiative (EITI) by applying principles of transparency and accountability to construction procurement.

Application of EITI principles to other sectors was supported by G8 countries at the recent Heiligendamm summit, and their specific application to the construction sector was a commitment in the 2006 International Development White Paper.

DFID has committed £0.5 million this year to support the CoST design and pilots. As pilots progress we will assess the wider resources needed and DFID will work with other donors and development partners to secure the necessary resources to support CoST.

A major meeting for CoST partners will be held on 20 June, and be addressed by the Secretary of State. An official launch will take place in October, with the launch of pilots in around three countries to develop a model approach to increased transparency in construction procurement.