141.   The Rome Declaration on Harmonization (2003) and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) have placed an emphasis on national ownership of the development processes by ODA recipient countries. The Royal Government is committed to take full ownership not only of its development processes but is also determined to ensure that ODA resources are effectively targeted and utilized to meet the high priority development needs of Cambodia for the benefit of the Cambodian people to reduce poverty and to achieve Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals.

142.    However, in spite of these commitments by the international community some donor practices that have roots in the era of the 1990s, a period that various studies have characterized as a period of "donorship", continue. The challenge for the multilateral, international development cooperation partners of Cambodia, and NGOs is to quickly translate the commitments made in the international arena into concrete operational actions to change their practices to provide room to the Royal Government to assume ownership of its development management processes in an environment of cooperation, mutual trust, and mutual accountability to improve ODA effectiveness in order to maximize its benefits for the people of Cambodia. The challenge for the Royal Government is to continue to put in place management systems and institutional mechanisms that are transparent and accountable to enhance aid effectiveness.

143.   There is now an urgent need to leave behind the practices of the 1990s, when development cooperation activities were planned, managed and delivered by development partners with limited ownership of development choices and management process by concerned Cambodian institutions. As mentioned earlier, the review by the Secretariat of GDCC in December 2005 of TWGs progress in implementing the RGC’s Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment revealed that while on those activities that required Government action significant progress was made, there had been only limited progress in areas where the development partners were to take specific actions. Also, another study on harmonization and aid coordination in Cambodia commissioned by DFID concluded that both within the Government and among development partners there is not yet a full understanding of the internationally agreed commitments made in the Rome and Paris Declarations.  The Royal Government recognizes that it needs to strengthen the awareness of the Rome and Paris Declarations among officials of the ministries and agencies and has taken concrete steps in 2005. The Royal Government would like to see an equal commitment and political will among the development partners to work towards meeting their commitments of the Rome and Paris Declarations. In the spirit of the Rome and Paris Declarations, there is now an urgent need for development cooperation partners to give a high priority to:

  • harmonizing their practices to minimize the burden on implementing institutions and to reduce wastage through duplication of activities in order  to enhance ODA effectiveness;

  • aligning their support with the Royal Government’s development priorities outlined in the just completed National Strategic Development Plan for 2006-2010;

  • ensuring that management arrangements of ODA supported programs and projects follow the OECD/DAC guidelines on best practices for “managing for results” and the principle of Government ownership of the development management process; and

  • ensuring that there is a greater net transfer of ODA resources, that are targeted to reach the poor and vulnerable, to reduce poverty and to achieve Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals.

144.  The Royal Government is determined to build partnerships with all development partners (bilateral and multilateral, private sector, non-governmental and civil society organizations) based on principles of cooperation, mutual trust, and mutual accountability. As noted earlier, a new mechanism to strengthen government-donor coordination has been put in place in 2005. This new mechanism that includes 18 joint sector/thematic Technical Working Groups (TWGs) and the high level Government-Donor Coordination Committee (GDCC) provides a forum for the participation of bilateral, multi-lateral and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at both the technical level (TWGs) as well as at the policy level (GDCC).  The mechanisms under the Government-Private Sector Forum are now well organized and provide an elaborate structure for building effective partnerships with the private sector.

145.   In terms of priorities for 2006, the Royal Government strongly urges the multilateral, international development cooperation partners, and non-governmental organizations to:

  1. Place a special emphasis on ensuring Government ownership of ODA supported programs and projects in an environment of mutual accountability. In particular, the NGOs need to coordinate their activities with the concerned government institutions in order to better target and minimize duplication of effort in order to maximize the benefits of the limited available development resources. The sector/thematic TWGs can play an important role in facilitating this coordination.

  2. Strengthen coordination of NGO supported programs and projects with ministries and agencies at the sub-national level.

  3. Ensure that the principles outlined in the RGC’s Strategic Framework for Development Cooperation Management and Articles 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Sub-Decree #147 ANK.BK dated 29 December 2005, as well as the principles, guidelines and procedures laid out in Royal Government's National Operational Guidelines for grant assistance and the Standard Operating Procedures for loan assistance are followed.

  4. Shift current emphasis on processes to substance in the work of the TWGs. It will require participation of donor personnel who have substantive/high level technical expertise in the sector/thematic areas of the TWGs. The Royal Government recognizes that the costs of maintaining this level of expertise on the ground by all development partners could be prohibitive. It therefore strongly recommends that development partners select among themselves an area or areas that is/are of primary importance to each partner who should be made responsible for placing on the ground the highest level of expertise in the sector/thematic area that is available on the international market and the development partner can afford. The Royal Government strongly discourages the use of donor personnel in the work of the TWGs who lack substantive technical expertise in the sector/thematic area of the TWG and lack experience in strategic policy formulation processes.

  5. Focus on improving the efficiency of TWG operations, the Chair and the Lead Donor Facilitator(s) need to ensure that each TWG meeting has a purpose and a defined output. To reduce burden of numerous meetings on ministries and agencies as well as donor staff, the Royal Government strongly recommends that development partners limit their participation to TWGs where they are a funding partner and to more sharply focus their support to a few priority areas within their country assistance strategies.

  6. Carry out a review to examine whether or not the TWGs as they are currently structured are appropriate to meet the current and emerging needs as well as develop broad guidelines for the operations of the TWGs with a view to minimize burden both on ministries and agencies, and the development partners participating in the TWGs. 

  7. Actively promote sector, thematic, and other program-based approaches in the TWG forum to reduce the excessive number of stand alone projects. The adoption of this approach will not only promote a greater alignment of development cooperation activities with Cambodia's development priorities, but more importantly, such an approach would also lead to a greater harmonization of development partners practices and reducing the administrative burden on the limited capacities of implementing ministries/agencies.

  8. Reduce the number of studies carried out by individual development partners on similar topics by establishing a procedure to review proposals on any planned studies among development partners and with the concerned ministry/agency.

  9. Reduce the number of long-term TA's by placing an emphasis on quality -- taking into account the suggestions in (iii) above -- and ensuring that short-term TA is demand driven -- based on suggestion in (vii) above. The Royal Government believes that the presence of high level technical expertise in the country offices of development partners who are actively involved in the work of the TWGs would significantly reduce the need for short-term TA. The Royal Government recognizes that in the short to medium term it will continue to need the support of high quality experts to facilitate implementation of large projects, implementation of Royal Government's reform programs, and for functions related to developing strategies and policies for national socio-economic development, and for building capacity at the central and local levels to formulate, implement, and monitor development activities. Thus, the needs in the short to medium term will consist of elements of capacity substitution by high quality technical experts in strategic areas along with a continuing focus on capacity development. At the same time, the Royal Government would like to see a corresponding reduction in capacity substitution elements as domestic capacities are developed.

  10. Demonstrate a will and commitment and apply the concept of “managing for results” to modify existing practices in line with the principles embodied in the Rome and Paris Declarations. Take actions necessary to ensure that the TWGs have the capacity to implement RGC’s Action Plan on Harmonization, Alignment and Results that has been jointly agreed between the RGC and development partners. Development partners need to expedite action on:

  • Delegating authority from donors’ headquarters to country offices to empower the country offices to work on harmonization and alignment issues with other in-country donors and with the Government in the country context.

  • Increase joint programming through “delegated cooperation”.

  • Reduce individual donor missions and increase joint missions by coordinating planned missions through the TWG mechanism to reduce costs and burden on ministries and agencies.

146.   Notwithstanding the constraints, the Royal Government is gratified by the generous support that the development partners provide to Cambodia.  However, to maximize its effectiveness it would like a greater net transfer of these resources to benefit the poor and the vulnerable. The Royal Government recognizes that there are administrative costs that are incurred by development partners to deliver their development assistance that is included in the total amount of ODA that is reported to have been disbursed to Cambodia. At present, there is no readily available information on how much of the reported ODA goes in meeting these costs in-country and outside the country and how much ultimately reaches the poor and the vulnerable.

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