24 January 2014
Category : Interview
Transparency is at the heart of public management
Interview with the Chairman and General Manager of the Chilean Council for Transparency
According to the ‘International Transparency’ organisation, Chile is ranked 23rd in the list of the least corrupt countries and the Council is aiming to keep moving up the scale. The organisation’s chairman Jorge Jaraquemada and its General Manager Raúl Ferrada visited the FIIAPP this week to secure support from the EUROsociAL Programme in the areas of transparency and the fight against corruption.
Mr Jaraquemada. How important are transparency policies and access to information in Latin America?
I view transparency and access to public information from the point of view of State reform and modernisation. They are very important tools for restoring credibility to and for dealing with the illegality found in many Latin American institutions, particularly in political institutions.
Where is Chile with regard to the rest of Latin America in the fight against corruption?
I believe that Chile’s experience of transparency and the right to information is on the right track. Both Chile and Uruguay are in quite a strong position in Latin America in terms of low levels of corruption: Chile is ranked 23rd by International Transparency of a total of 180 countries measured. What worries me is that there has been some stagnation. What I mean is that when I look at the graphs for the last 10 years, Chile has stayed in more or less the same position. That could be worrying. I hope that transparency or the mass exercise of the right to information will make a further contribution to giving Chile a better position.
Mr Ferrada. One of the Chilean Transparency Council’s star tools is the Transparency Portal of the State of Chile, supported by FIIAPP and the Fundación CEDDET through EUROsociAL. What is its function?
The ‘Transparency Portal of the State of Chile’ project addresses an essential aspect of information access policies, which is that of citizen participation. This should be part of the DNA of all public bodies but has so far been very difficult to introduce and put into practice through successful experiences. We want to use technologies to create a permanent channel, open to citizens, where we can propose themes and get feedback or where citizens themselves can propose themes.
Do citizens respond?
We don’t believe that people should have to take to the streets when their indignation and rage boils over. That is why we must have permanent channels through which citizens are able to express their opinions and needs because, although it may seem obvious to us, this is not the case in many public actors who are there to serve the community. Politicians do not represent ideologies, they are public managers that must serve the community. People tell us they want public action in very specific areas: health, education and housing. They’ve been telling us this for five years. These are the matters that concern people most.
What do you do with the information you receive from the public?
(Jorge Jaraquemada answers)
If we analyse the information in terms of requests and demands and look at social conflict in Chile over the last three years, there is perfect coherence in terms of anticipation. In other words, the Law on Transparency, in terms of the niches in which people demand information, is an indicator of social unrest that erupts months later. This is what happened in the areas of education, the environment and regional communities that occurred in a couple of the country’s regions where there were outbreaks of violence.
(Raúl Ferrada concludes)
We have a thermometer that shows us when temperatures are higher than normal in certain areas. This is another reason for explaining to public managers that transparency is not a problem. Transparency and access to information are at the heart of public management and are very useful for public managers. It is a very good investment. We are sure of it.
Enrique Martínez. Head of communication at EUROsociAL
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