A group of senior figures from the construction industry has urged world leaders to ensure that a pioneering global anti-corruption programme is given the chance to achieve its full potential.
The Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) initiative is designed to bring greater transparency to construction projects by making information like tender prices, variations, the final price and rationale for the project public. The idea is to make it easier to scrutinise how money was spent as well as to deter bribery.
The scheme was launched in October last year following a three-year pilot scheme. However, the initiative is reported to have failed to attract more than US$ 500,000 in funding for the current financial year – well short of the at least US$ 4 million per year it needs to run on a global scale.
In an open letter to the UK government, senior representatives from the global construction industry including the Alan Collett, president of the UK’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Geoff French, president of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers and Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, warned of a lack of support.
The letter states,“CoST brings together government, industry and civil society to disclose information on public sector infrastructure and enable citizens to hold decision-makers to account.
"Following a successful UK- funded pilot involving eight countries, CoST has been endorsed by [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron in a letter to G8 leaders, the G20, Multilateral Development Banks, numerous governments, leading companies and civil society organisations.
"These endorsements are welcome, but CoST needs adequate financial investment if its impacts are to be scaled-up."
The letter urges the UK government to use its influence in the G8 to ensure that the programme is given the chance to achieve its full potential. The G8 Summit – a forum for the governments of eight of the world's 11 wealthiest countries – is taking place in Northern Ireland until 18 June.
“The UK government showed great vision in launching CoST, and invested close to £3.4 million (US$ 5.3 million) in the pilot project.
"Given this investment, CoST's widely acclaimed benefits and the number of new countries that are now eager to join, a lack of further financial support would constitute a great missed opportunity,” the open letter states.