1. Mr. Chhieng Yanara, Chairman of the P&H TWG opened the meeting by welcoming participants to the sixth meeting of the P&H TWG. He proposed the following four agenda items for the meeting:
2. Before beginning the discussion on the agenda items of the meeting, the Chair informed the meeting that the Strategic Framework for Development Cooperation Management which had been prepared through an extensive consultative process both within government and with development partners in 2005, has now been approved by the Royal Government at the Cabinet meeting on 27 January 2006. He thanked participants who had provided useful comments and advice on the framework. In addition, to implement the RGC's Strategic Framework for Development Cooperation Management, a Multi-donor Support Program to complement the Strategic Framework has been finalized and a Program Document has been signed between the Royal Government and the UNDP in December to start the Program from 01 January 2006 with initial support from UNDP. He thanked development partners, especially JICA, DFID, and SIDA who have indicated an interest in supporting this program.
3. On the first agenda item, Mr. Yanara explained that the TORs of the P&H TWG include six priority areas. As a first step in preparing the P&H TWG work plan for 2006, CDC carried out a review to see whether or not these six priority areas were adequately covered in the Updated H-A-R Action Plan that will be reviewed and finalized at this meeting. The CDC review has indicated that all six priority areas are adequately covered in the Action Plan. He presented the P&H TWG work plan for 2006 based on the current draft of the H-A-R Action Plan. He said that this P&H TWG work plan for 2006 includes all activities in the H-A-R Action Plan for which either CDC/CRDB or the Lead Donor Facilitators of P&H TWG have been identified as the responsible party. He noted that any changes agreed to at this meeting in the review of the H-A-R Action Plan will be incorporated in the P&H TWG work plan for 2006.
4. On the second agenda item, Mr. Yanara provided an updated on the planned Field Testing exercise of OECD/DAC Questionnaire. He explained that since the meeting includes many people who normally do not attend P&H TWG meetings he would like to take a few minutes to provide some background information. He informed the meeting that the second HLF meeting held on 28 February - 2 March 2005 that issued the Paris Declaration had tasked the OECD/DAC through its Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF) to monitor progress nationally and internationally against 12 indicators of the Paris Declaration. Since the Paris Declaration, the OECD/DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness has been working on finalizing indicators and developing a framework for monitoring progress on the implementation of the Paris Declaration. In September 2005, the Working Party established a Joint Venture on Monitoring Paris Declaration that, for the first time, will be co-chaired by a partner (Vietnam) and a donor country (UK), and will be supported by Austria, Cambodia, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Ghana, Mali, Nicaragua, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, UNDP, United States and World Bank. The participation of partner countries in this monitoring work has also been broadened and it will now include 23 partner countries and 23 bilateral donors and several multilateral institutions.
5. This Joint Venture on Monitoring Paris Declaration has been tasked to prepare two progress reports on the implementation of the Paris Declaration's commitments before the Third High Level Forum that is scheduled to be held in Ghana in 2008. The Joint Venture has been working on designing a questionnaire and a technical guidance note to collect information on progress at the country level. He said that he attended the meeting of the JV-MPD held in Paris on 24 January 2006 to review and finalize the questionnaire package. The final version of the questionnaire is expected to be ready by mid February that will be field tested in 6 partner countries. Cambodia was selected as one of the 6 partner countries to take part in this field testing exercise.
6. The main objective of field testing is to assess and validate the process, questionnaire and the technical guidance note. The mission team will include the lead member (in the case of Cambodia that is UNDP), OECD/DAC secretariat, and other members of the JV-MPD. The field testing will take 5 working days and will be carried out from 20 to 24 March 2006.
7. After the field testing has been completed and the questionnaire revised, if necessary, the Joint Venture on Monitoring the Paris Declaration will launch the survey in May 2006. Responses to the survey from the countries are expected to be received by September 2006 providing five full months to complete the questionnaire.
8. On the third agenda item, Mr. Yanara introduced Mr. Vongsey Vissoth, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Chairman of the Sub-working group that guided the preparation of the National Operational Guidelines (NOG) for grant assistance. Mr. Vongsey Vissoth informed the meeting that the NOG is not meant to be a documentation of existing practices. It outlines the practices that the Royal Government would like development partners to adopt. The NOG is based on principles laid out in the OECD/DAC Best Practices Papers. He highlighted that the adoption of these guidelines by development partners is an important step in meeting commitments of the Paris Declaration. He explained the process of formulation and highlighted that the proposed guidelines incorporate inputs from government and development partner representatives that are within the parameters of RGC's Strategic Framework for Development Cooperation Management. He also provided a brief summary of each of the seven chapters in the NOG which follows the sequence of the program cycle.
9. In discussion that followed, Mr. Shyam Bajpai of ADB asked for clarification on why adoption of the NOG by development partners is optional. Mr. Vonsey Vissoth responded that the Royal Government has decided to encourage development partners to adopt the NOGs rather than to unilaterally make it a requirement. However, progress on who adopts the NOG will be monitored and reported at the GDCC meetings. Mr. Douglas Gardner highlighted that Cambodia is receiving high recognition internationally of the tremendous effort in pushing the Harmonization and Alignment initiative. Development partners should try their best in aligning to the principles and actions of NOG.
10. On the last agenda items, concerning the review and finalization of the updated RGC's Action Plan on Harmonization, Alignment and Results for 2006-2010. Mr. Yanara provided an update on what has been done so far. He explained that to review the first draft of RGC’s Updated Action Plan on Harmonization, Alignment and Results a workshop for government representatives and development partners was held at CDC on 4-5 July 2005. Based on comments received at the workshop a revised draft was prepared by CDC. This revised draft was reviewed at a two-day workshop of government representatives on 1-2 September 2005 held in Sihanouk Ville. The purpose of this workshop was to review and internalize the content of the Action Plan within the government in order to empower government officials to take ownership and to play a leadership role in discussions with development partners.
11. Following these workshops, CDC/CRDB carried out an informal review of what other countries have done in this area. Also, note was taken of progress made in implementing the existing RGC’s Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment. Mr. Yanara noted that a surprise finding which he reported at the last GDCC meeting was that on those activities that required Government action significant progress was made, while there had been limited progress in areas where the development partners were to take specific actions. Taking into account the realities on-the ground, CDC again revised the draft of the Updated H-A-R Action Plan based on the following criteria:
12. Mr. Yanara informed the meeting that a draft of the revised Updated Action plan was sent to participants two weeks ago. He said that the finding of the recently study on harmonization and aid coordination in Cambodia commissioned by DFID, that was completed in late 2005, 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 requires action by both sides. He urged both sides to take the necessary actions to correct the situation and begin to work together in a spirit of mutual accountability that is a basic principle of the Paris Declaration. He also highlighted that just preparing Action Plans without a clear understanding of the issues and commitment to implement the activities could seriously jeopardizes any chances of success.
13. In discussion that followed, Ms. Nisha Agrawal of the World Bank asked for clarification on how the Action Plan will be monitored. Mr. Yanara explained that his main concern at this stage is to get the Action Plan officially approved by the Government before the CG meeting. However, he noted that he will ask the Cabinet to assign CRDB/CC to monitor and permission to make necessary updates to the Action Plan. There was substantial discussion on the practicalities of joint missions. It was agreed that information on upcoming missions within and amongst development partners needs to be shared. It was also noted that duplicative missions should be decreased and not missions in general. One other issue raised was on who should be responsible to monitor implementation of the Action Plan at the sector level. Mr. Yanara clarified that the Chair of the TWGs are responsible to monitor and ensure implementation of the action plan in their area.
14. In conclusion, Mr. Yanara said that the next step is to have the Cabinet approval the Updated Action Plan before the CG meeting. He said that CRDB/CDC will review and update the current declaration to align with the Paris Declaration. He informed the meeting that the Chair of the each TWG will meet on 9 February 2006 to discuss the Action Plan, JMI, and other issues related to the CG meeting. There will also be a GDCC meeting on 15 February 2006 to review the JMIs.
15. The meeting adjourned at 10:30.
List of Participants: