1. Mr. Chhieng Yanara, Secretary General of CRDB/CDC and Chairman of the 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. The Chairman began his introductory remarks by informing the Group that this is the last meeting of this Group before the CG meeting and that he would like to take a few minutes to summarize what this Group has accomplished since the last CG meeting. He started by thanking the two Co-Vice Chairs, the UN Resident Coordinator and the Minister from the Embassy of Japan, for their support without which, he said, it would not have been possible to achieve the significant progress that has been made. He thanked UNDP and the World Bank for their TA in facilitating the preparation of the RGC’s Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment.
3. He informed the Group that the Government-Donor Partnership Working Group was established in response to a proposal made by the Royal Government that was overwhelmingly endorsed at the 6th CG meeting held in June 2002. In its deliberations the Working Group had agreed to begin its work by focusing on problems/issues for which feasible solutions already exist and that can be agreed to and implemented immediately. It was a pragmatic approach that assigned a high priority to picking the readily accessible “low hanging fruits”. He informed the meeting that the Partnership Working Group had begun its work by commissioning three studies to collect and analyse the necessary background information and outline feasible solutions to tackle the harmonization issues. The three studies focused on: (i) the capacity building practices of Cambodia's development partners, (ii) practices and lessons learned in the management of development cooperation; and (iii) preparation of national operational guidelines for development cooperation on the grants component of the ODA. He reported that the first two studies have been completed and the first draft of the third study has been prepared.
4. In terms of financing of the studies he informed the Group that the studies on “Capacity Building Practices of Cambodia's Development Partners”, and the “Preparation of the National Operational Guidelines for Development Cooperation” were financed and supported by UNDP. The study on, "Practices and Lessons Learned in the Management of Development Cooperation: Case Studies in Cambodia", was financed and supported by Japan.
5. He said that the findings and recommendations of these studies present both opportunities and challenges for the Royal Government as well as the development partners. They offer opportunities to improve ODA effectiveness through strengthened partnerships to achieve more harmonized practices in program planning, formulation, financing, and the management of the implementation of development cooperation activities. He said that the challenge now is to find ways to quickly move forward with the implementation of recommendations on which there is agreement between the Royal Government and the development partners.
6. He informed the Group that this Working Group has also been busy in supporting both the work of the OECD/DAC on examining harmonization and alignment issues in Cambodia's context, and in discussions on the restructuring of the Working Groups under the CG mechanism. He reported that he has been participating in the work of the OECD/DAC Task Team on Harmonization and Alignment and expressed his appreciation for the effort that both officials of the ministries and development partners had put in completing the OECD/DAC questionnaire and the preparation of Cambodia’s Action Plan on the implementation of the Rome Declaration commitments. He informed the Group that the Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment was approved by the Cabinet on 19 November 2004.
7. He said that as Chairman of this Working Group he was encouraged by the significant progress that has been made since the last CG Meeting and he would like to thank officials from the ministries and development partners for their support. He emphasized that the studies that have been carried out under the umbrella of this Working Group provide to both Government and development partners factual information and analysis that will enable us to tackle the real issues based on facts rather than perceptions. He said that the restructuring of the Working Groups represents a fundamental change in the institutional set up for planning, managing and monitoring progress on the implementation of development assistance. He said that he is confident based on the strong commitment that he has witnessed in the process of the preparation of the Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment that we are all moving in the right direction to improve the effectiveness of ODA to maximize its benefits for the people of Cambodia.
8. Elaborating on the agenda for the meeting he said that the task before us today is to review and agree on the TORs and a plan of action for the restructured TWG. He said, a formal review of the TORs of the Partnership Working Group is needed for two reasons. Firstly, as one of the 17 restructured Technical Working Groups, each of whom is required to prepare TORs there is a need to reaffirm its TORs. Secondly, a review of the TORs of the Partnership and Harmonization TWG (P&H TWG) is a needed to position it to effectively deal with the implementation of the Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment that has been endorsed by the Royal Government and is now ready for implementation. He highlighted that the TORs that have been circulated propose the following mandate for the P&H TWG, "The mandate of the P&HTWG is to support the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in building partnerships with all national and international development partners, and to promote the harmonization of development partners' practices and the alignment of their assistance programs/projects with national development priorities to improve aid effectiveness and maximize ODA benefits for the people of Cambodia".
9. In terms of an action plan for the P&H TWG, the TORs propose the following priorities for the next four years:
10. The TORs also propose the following organizational and operational arrangements for the P&HTWG:
11. Following Chairman's introductory remarks there was extensive discussion. Some participants expressed concern about possible overlap between GDCC and the P&H TWG. In response the Chairman informed the Group that the GDCC and P&H TWG have very different roles. These are clearly outlined in Samdech Prime Minister's opening remarks at the Pre-CG Meeting held on 10 September 2004. He pointed that the P&H TWG is one of the 17 TWGs that will focus on harmonization and alignment issues while GDCC is the high level policy body that will (i) provide policy direction and establish priorities and (ii) take action to resolve issues/bottlenecks identified by TWGs.
12. In the discussion on the proposed TORs of the P&HTWG it was proposed and agreed that the text in item #ii in the proposed Action Plan in the TORs should include reference to lessons learned in the management of development cooperation in Cambodia. After revision the new text will read as follows:
13. The TORs for the restructured Partnership Working Group, that is now named P&H TWG, were agreed with the modification shown in para. # 12 above.
14. On the question of Lead Donor Coordinators for the P&HTWG, the UN Resident Coordinator confirmed that he will continue to play this role. Japan will inform later about its continuing participation as one of the Lead Donor Coordinators.
15. The meeting adjourned at 9.30 a.m.
List of Participants