1. Mr. Chhieng Yanara, Secretary General of CRDB/CDC and Chairman of Partnership and Harmonization TWG, opened the meeting by welcoming all participants to the meeting. He proposed the following agenda for the meeting:
2. The proposed agenda was adopted. In discussion on the agenda, Mr. Claes Leijon of SIDA asked for a short briefing on Cambodia's report to HLF2 and Mr. Douglas Gardner of UNDP asked for an update on the preparation of the NSDP for 2006-2010. Ms Fleur Davies of AUSAID wanted a discussion on the topic of how to phase out salary supplements.
3. Agenda item #1: Report on the progress made during the last quarter. Mr. Chhieng Yanara made a presentation on progress made over the last three months. He informed the meeting that a major task of this Working Group is to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the H&A Action Plan. He distributed a copy of a reorganized version of the Action Plan based on target completion date of the activities that was prepared by CDC (see Annex I). The restructured format lists activities that were planned to be completed during the last quarter, activities that are planned to be completed in the next quarter (March- May) and so on. According to the list provided, the following 11 activities in the H&A Action Plan were scheduled to be completed during the last quarter:
4. He noted that the first three activities concerned the formulation of the NSDP and informed the meeting that discussions between the MOP and UN System, ADB and World Bank have been taking place on the preparation of the National Strategic Development Plan. He emphasized the importance of this task which is central to achieving alignment of ODA supported activities with Cambodia's national development priorities. He informed the group that progress so far is a bit behind schedule and emphasized that there is a need to fast track this very important task, including the formation of the Planning TWG.
5. In term of progress on other activities he informed that:
6. He informed the meeting about the study to develop guidelines on procurement that ADB, World Bank, and MEF are carrying out. He asked the question if these guidelines will cover all development programs or only programs funded through loans. He also informed the meeting that work is on-going, with support from UNDP, on the preparation of National Operational Guidelines for Development Cooperation Activities for the grants component of ODA under the umbrella of the Sub-Group that is Chaired by Mr. Vongsey Vissoth Deputy Secretary General of MEF.
7. In addition to reporting on progress on the implementation of the H&A Action Plan, he also highlighted the importance of development partners support to ministries and agencies in developing sector or thematic programs. He emphasized that a wider use of sector or program based approaches will enable both Government and development partners to reduce the large number of stand alone projects, reported to be over 500 in 2003, encourage delegated cooperation arrangements among the development partners, and reduce the need for individual donor missions that have been reported in the recent OECD/DAC survey report to be the highest in the region. He also noted that sector or program-based approaches can also play an important role not only in better aligning ODA supported activities with Cambodia's national development priorities to achieve Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals, but more importantly, they provide a practical framework for harmonizing and aligning the development partners activities around jointly agreed priorities and actions.
8. As the final item in his presentation he provided an update on work that has been underway on the preparation of Royal Government's Strategic Framework on Decentralization and De-concentration Reform. He thanked development partners who have been supporting this effort. He reported that he has received the consultant's report. He noted that decentralization and de-concentration reform is not just a simple technical issue. To move forward and achieve sustainable results, the D&D Inter-Ministerial Working Group that is leading this process needs to secure the full support of decision-makers at the highest level on the concepts and approaches that need to implemented. This process is now underway. He expects that this process of consultations and approvals will be completed by the end of March at which point the Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sar Keng will present the Royal Government's Strategic Framework on Decentralization and De-concentration Reform at a national workshop of senior official responsible for planning, personnel and budgets to which development partners will also be invited.
9. In discussion following the presentation, Mr. Gardner highlighted the urgency to set up the Planning TWG as soon as possible. Ms. Agrawal pointed the need for donors and civil society participation in the processes of the preparation of NSDP. She also informed the meeting that procurement guidelines that are being prepared by WB, ADB and MEF only apply to loans. Mr. Leijon emphasized the need to ensure the inclusion of all ministries in the preparation of the NSDP. He noted that this has not been the case before. Mr. Yanara agreed that the process of preparing the NSDP must be inclusive and should include donors, civil society, and all ministries. Mr. Leijon asked about the status of the D&D TWG. Mr. Yanara informed the meeting that in the case of D&D TWG there are two important dates to keep in mind, that is, the period to the end of 2005 and after 2005. Until the end of 2005, members of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on D&D Strategic Framework now constitute the Government members of the D&D TWG and accordingly he is the Chair of the D&D TWG. Starting in 2006, the representatives from the Government side will be based on decisions made in the course of the on-going work on preparing the D&D Strategic Framework. In response to Mr. Leijon's query about Cambodia's report to the HLF2, Mr. Yanara informed that Cambodia's message is that harmonization process in Cambodia is moving in the right direction, the formation of the new TWGs has put in place an important mechanism to strengthen Government-Donor dialogue. However, Cambodia also faces many challenges. For example, how to strengthen national systems and procedures to encourage development partners to use Government systems, how to strengthen information sharing among donors, and the need for donor headquarters to operationalize the policies agreed at the international fora and delegate authority to their country offices to enable them to effectively participate in the implementation of Cambodia's H&A Action Plan.
10. Agenda item #2: Institutional set up within ministries to implement H & A Action Plans. Mr. Yanara informed the meeting about the need to establish focal points for the implementation H&A Action plan. Ms. Fleur Davies informed the meeting that some TWGs are setting up a Secretariat. After discussion, the meeting agreed not to consider the option of setting up a new mechanism to serve as point within ministries to implement the H&A Action. It was agreed that within the structure of TWGs a focal point will be identified and made responsible for dealing with issues on the implementation of the H&A Action Plan.
11. Agenda item #3: Promotion of PBAs by organizing workshop for senior officials. Mr. Yanara informed the group that ministries have informed him that they need more information about the SWAP and other program-based approaches. Mr. Leijon informed the meeting that SIDA will be conducting a workshop on SWAPs in the Ministry of Education in May. There was general support for the idea. Mr. Baipai of ADB offered to provide TA support for the workshop and asked if SIDA will consider expanding its effort to other ministries. After extensive discussion it was agreed that a workshop should be organized in May or June. It was suggested that Mr. Leijon and Mr. Yanara should discuss on how to proceed with planning for this workshop.
12. Agenda item #4: Any assistance the P & H TWG Group can provide to other TWGs. It was noted that PBA Workshop just discussed is a concrete example of the type of support that the P&H TWG can provide to the TWGs. Mr. Yanara noted that through the UNDP Support Program at CDC/CRDB technical assistance to develop and upgrade aid management information systems in ministries is being provided. He informed the meeting that CDC./CRDB stands ready to provide assistance requested by the Chair of any TWG.
13. With regards to the study on the Capacity Building Practices of Cambodia's Development Partners, the meeting was informed that the study was completed more than a year ago. It was published in June 2004 as a discussion paper and posted on CDC/CRDB website. In the "Forward" of the published report, it is noted that, "This Report presents factual information and analysis on the capacity building practices of our development partners as well as recommendations of the Study Team. I would like to note that the recommendations presented in the report reflect the views of the study team. In terms of the next steps, the report was officially submitted in March 2004 to H.E. Mr. Ngo Hongly, the new Secretary General of the Council for Administrative Reforms who also assumed the role of the Chairperson of the SWG for the study. Under the umbrella of the SWG for the study at the Council for Administrative Reforms, discussions are being held to: (i) arrive at a set of recommendations on which there is consensus, and (ii) to develop an action plan for their implementation."
14. The meeting adjourned at noon.
List of Participants