Even as the Philippine government and the World Bank (WB), entered into a new agreement to review operations and mechanisms in implementing development programs as an attempt to enhance the current set of “readiness filters” in the programming of development programs and projects, IBON databank said . donor governments have failed not only to improve the quality of aid but also even to make progress towards delivering committed amounts.
BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Vol. VIII, No. 31, September 7-13, 2008
The Philippine government and the World Bank (WB), entered into a new agreement to review operations and mechanisms in implementing development programs as an attempt to enhance the current set of “readiness filters” in the programming of development programs and projects. The agreement is aimed at optimizing the use of official development assistance (ODA).
The agreement-signing was considered as one of the highlights of the Joint Philippines-World Bank Portfolio Review Wrap-Up held Aug. 27 at the Discovery Suites at the Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The portfolio review wrap-up was called after National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ralph G. Recto told government agencies to target a full disbursement rate to improve the efficiency of fund use for government programs and projects.
Representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DoH), Department of Justice (DoJ), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), LGU Guarantee Corporation (LGUGC), Land Bank, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) participated in the portfolio warp-up, according to the WB.
The wrap-up is part of the efforts led by NEDA, in coordination with Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan Bank for International Development (JBIC) and WB, which are aimed at reviewing the performance of the Philippine government’s ODA portfolios in order to identify measures that would improve the country’s absorptive capacity and to speed up the implementation of development programs and projects.
Most of the projects mentioned were funded by these three international agencies, according to the WB statement.
Among the “readiness filters” considered during the review wrap-up are institutional readiness of the proponent agency, including availability of technical skills within the agency and budget space to accommodate project requirements; strong ownership within the proponent agency as manifested by the presence of a strong champion within the organization, clear support from oversight agencies, clear involvement from other agencies, and participatory processes with project beneficiaries; and robust risk analysis.
GRP, partner agencies still positive on meeting targets
The Philippine government is still positive about the success of the joint endeavor of the WB, JBIC, ADB and the NEDA to harmonize the business process between funding institutions and government agencies to further enhance aid effectiveness and reduce transactions costs.
The Philippine-WB portfolio review covered 130 active ODA loan-funded program and projects from January 1 to December 2007 and 89 ODA grant-assisted projects involving 37 agencies, including 23 national government agencies, 10 government-owned and controlled corporations, three financial government institutions, and one local government unit, NEDA Deputy Director-General for Investment Programming Rolando G. Tungpalan said in a statement.
He also said that the review noted substantial improvements in the disbursement of ODA funds, reaching 86 percent in 2007 as compared to 80 percent in 2006.
He said that this improvement in disbursement should help alleviate poverty and enhance delivery of social services.
“The improvement is largely due to the efforts of the government to enhance aid effectiveness through measures like better interagency coordination and harmonization of business processes,” said Tungapalan.
Ready to go projects
He also said that it is important that Philippine government has projects “ready to go” even before submitting these to the Investment and Coordinating Committee (ICC).
Meanwhile, Maryse Gautier, WB portfolio and operations manager and deputy country director, said that the institution welcomes the government’s proposal to set up these readiness filters at an early stage of project development.
“These filters can still be fine-tuned to include contribution to poverty reduction, support for inclusive growth, positive impact on fiscal stability, and adequate focus on good governance. They will also help identify priorities for our Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) currently under preparation,” said Gautier.
Furthermore, other measures considered are better coordination and dialogue with agencies, involvement of local government units especially in resolving constraints like right-of-way issues, rationalization of the government bureaucracy, and capacity building among government agency staff.
In addition, NEDA Project Monitoring Staff Director Roderick M. Planta, who leads the government-driven portfolio review, reaffirmed the commitment to push for the set of measures to ensure not only implementation efficiency but also the attainment of development objectives.
“The World Bank is very much willing to support all these measures, including capacity building programs to help the country improve efficiency in the use of funds for programs and projects that would hasten economic growth and development,” Gautier added.