More ASEAN-member states urged to join OGP

MANILA -- Open Government Partnership (OGP) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Joe Powell has urged eight other ASEAN member states to join Indonesia and the Philippines in participating the OGP.

Powell said joining the OGP would strengthen transparency, accountability, and access to information in the region and bridge the gap among government, private sector, and civil society.

The OGP executive made the statement during the High-Level Regional Conference on Open Government, a side event of the country's chairmanship of ASEAN 2017, at the Philippine International Convention Center on Tuesday.

The OGP is an international initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies that strengthen governance.

Currently, Indonesia and the Philippines are the only ASEAN member states that are part of the 75 OGP participating countries.

The two ASEAN-member states are also part of the eight founding countries of OGP in 2011, which include Brazil, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States.

"At OGP, we firmly believed that the demand from citizens around the world for more open government is even stronger today, Powell said.

We see a continuing crisis of trusts between citizens and governments in many parts of the world. We still see major corruption scandals continuing to bring down leaders. We are continuing seeing inequality in the quality of services and the life chances of our citizens. We believe that Open Government is a means to tackling these critical challenges, he added.

He cited Thailand for initiating the process of joining the OGP. One of Thailand's initiatives is by improving transparency in its construction sector.

Powell also noted that Vietnam's passing of law on access to information, which is set to take effect next year, and Myanmar's transition to democracy for a more open government is a welcome move from these ASEAN countries.

We encourage countries in the ASEAN region to take the steps on access on information, fiscal transparency, and citizens' engagement in order to become eligible and join the Partnership, and we stand ready to support you to do that, he stressed.

Powell also noted that open governance will be critical in helping the region to move forward from a middle income economy to a high income status.

The reason we believe that it is very crucial for ASEAN is for that transition of middle income to high income status. We believe this that it rooted for having an open transparent and responsive government, he added.

He said that open governance pushed for improving the country's competitiveness by engaging the private sector and civil society in crafting reforms.

For Indonesian Deputy Minister for Planning Slamet Soedarsono, he stressed that ASEAN's collective attempts to promote and expand government initiatives shall be continued in order to rebuild people's trust to the government.

OGP has a simple but powerful goal -- that governments should truly serve and empower their citizens. Our collective attempts to further promote and expand open government initiatives shall be continued, Soedarsono said.

Source: Philippine News Agency