Priority Project Monitoring and the
Joint Monitoring Indicators
- Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of GDCC,
- Excellencies and colleagues from the Royal Government and Development partners
- Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you, Excellency Chair for providing this opportunity to share a synthesis and update on our priority project monitoring initiative and the JMIs.
I have a short point of clarification before I begin. My office continues to receive up-dated reports on priority projects as well as on the JMIs. We welcome this up-dated information and it has been incorporated into the final reports that have been distributed at this meeting. We elected not to share the revised reports before the meeting for three reasons: (1) there would be little time to read all revised reports, (2) the basic conclusions of the findings are not significantly affected, and (3) we did not wish to cause confusion by having multiple documents in distribution. I hope this is acceptable to all members of the GDCC.
Excellency Chair, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to begin by summarizing the results of the priority project monitoring initiative. I wish to make three points.
Priority project monitoring
First graph on the screen
The 68 priority projects that were identified in April had an original projected expenditure for 2009 of 370 million US Dollars. Actual expenditure for the first three quarters is estimated to be 192 million US Dollars, a little over half of the total expected for the year. An additional 91.5 million US Dollars is expected in the final quarter of this year. This gives a total expected expenditure of 283.5 million US Dollars in 2009.
The first observation I would like to put before this meeting is to address the extent to which these projects have been truly prioritised. Have they simply been placed on a monitoring list or are there special efforts and coordination arrangements in place to ensure that they are implemented in a timely manner?
Second graph on the screen
In this second graph we can see in which areas the reductions have been greatest. Table One in the document that has been shared presents absolute Dollar figures but the presentation on the screen is in percentage terms.
The main sectors affected in absolute Dollar terms are in projects managed or coordinated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance – PRGO-II, Emergency Food Assistance and in Smallholder Agriculture (combined annual reduction of 30 million Dollars) - and in health, a forecast reduction in disbursements of 21 million Dollars. But it is also encouraging to observe that in Decentralisation and Deconcentration, estimates for 2009 have actually increased by 16 million Dollars.
It is also encouraging that 20 of the 68 projects have now anticipated higher expenditure than indicated in April 2009. 4 of these are in Agriculture and Water, 3 are in Decentralisation and Deconcentration, and other 3 are in the infrastructure sector while the remainder are distributed over all other sectors.
The second observation to make is that despite 68 projects have been identified as priorities, why have only 20 of the 68 projects disbursed on or above target? It is also not clear if accelerated project implementation – in the few areas where it has been identified - is associated with an explicit effort to fast-track these projects as a result of this priority project monitoring initiative.
Third graph on the screen
Across the 3 main areas of support that informed the selection of these 68 projects – economic growth; livelihoods; and safety nets, we can see that growth and safety net expenditures are both about 30% below their original targets. Although livelihood expenditures appear to be on-track we must be concerned about the growth impact of development assistance and – perhaps more important – on safety net activity. If these figures are indicative of broader trends in the economy and in regard to safety net provision then all of us here today should make greater levels of effort and cooperation.
The reports we have received are most revealing. In most cases the reasons cited for delayed project implementation do not appear to be exceptional. Common reasons include delays in approval of work programmes, delays in procurement of goods and services, and delays in recruitment and contracting. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing all that is possible.
Fourth graph on the screen
The third and final point is to look forward and ask how confident we can be of performance against these revised disbursement schedules.
If we pro rate the performance in the first three quarters we can see that most sectors appear to be well on track to deliver against their revised targets and the final estimate of annual expenditure – 283.5 million Dollars – is achievable. Perhaps with more cooperation we may even see this figure increase.
Excellency Chair, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the overall conclusion is that the monitoring exercise needs to be associated with additional focus and attention in programme implementation and sector coordination if it is to be meaningful. We agreed in April that this was necessary if we are to ensure that our efforts actually translate into real impact in the short-term and to improved aid management practices in the longer-term.
Joint Monitoring Indicators
Let me now turn to the Joint Monitoring Indicators, including those that were developed earlier this year related to aid effectiveness. This part of my presentation will be relatively brief as we will discuss many of the issues related to governance, judicial reforms and land separately.
Most of the JMIs show evidence of implementation and cooperation between the Royal Government and its development partners. Although I do not propose to go through each JMI individually, it is therefore most gratifying to bring the attention of this meeting to JMI 4 on deliveries attended by skilled health personnel. The original JMI target of 50% was attained in 2008 and the new target is now 65%. I believe we should acknowledge that in this area, as in many others, there is real evidence of progress towards the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals. The Royal Government, development partners and NGOs all play a part in providing health services and this is an area where important partnerships are delivering.
Elsewhere, nine of the 20 JMIs reported no constraints or challenges in their implementation. Of the remaining 11, the primary challenge appears to be associated with resources – financial, human, and technical. Progress has been made but much more slowly that anticipated. The JMIs are often associated with an effort to strengthen national delivery systems and I propose that Government ministries and development partners work together in partnership so that resources can be directed at strengthening these capacities over the longer-term.
Similar observations are relevant to the aid effectiveness JMI. As discrete actions, they are broadly on-track, and ministries and agencies have adapted well to this new focus that addresses their sectoral priorities. It is only one year since we moved towards a decentralized approach to implementing Paris Declaration commitments and the Royal Government H-A-R Action Plan, and more does need to be done. But I think we are making progress and the early signs are encouraging in areas such as establishing sectoral programmes and in delivering capacity for national systems. We must therefore continue to position and implement this aid effectiveness work: first at the sector level, and, second, through the core reforms, focusing on activities that are rooted in mainstream work and linked to development results. Our recent partnering work has approached this from one direction, and we will soon be offering training on the JMIs, which we hope will make them more consistent, more results focused and increasingly integrated with broader reforms and sector initiatives.
Excellency Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Please allow me to conclude this presentation on priority projects, on the JMIs, and on aid effectiveness work with a single reflection.
In the 2008 Aid Effectiveness Report, the section on policy actions noted that:
"Remaining challenges extend beyond the immediate mandate of aid effectiveness initiatives. Strengthening NSDP-budget linkages, public service capacity and incentives, and service delivery require continued implementation of the core reforms but with improved integration of aid effectiveness practices that combine system-wide objectives with sector-specific priorities."
If we are to plan, finance and deliver for results – and to do so effectively – we need to recognise and apply a more integrated approach. This applies to each of the topics I have discussed - priority projects, the JMIs, and especially aid effectiveness work. These are not separate initiatives or processes. They are, along with the NSDP, the budget integration work and the core reforms, the initiatives that must be more effectively coordinated, supported and implemented if our work is to have its intended impact.
Excellency Chair, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I think this provides a useful conclusion to my own presentation, and I hope it also demonstrates the linkages with our earlier discussion on the NSDP and the integration work led by colleagues from the Ministry of Planning.