NEDA refines method for ODA portfolio review
Davao City (16 June) -- The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has integrated a new method to enhance its evaluation of Official Development Assistance (ODA), a report of which is due for submission to Congress this month.
As mandated by the ODA Act of 1996, the NEDA is tasked to annually assess ODA-funded projects and submit the ODA Portfolio Review to Congress not later than June 30 every year. Now on its 18th review cycle, the 2009 ODA Portfolio Review would include a new feature called Joint Analytical Work (JAW), which provides a platform for in-depth joint analysis among implementing and oversight agencies, and foreign development partners.
The JAW workshop conducted recently brought together, for the first time using a common analytical framework, representatives from the NEDA, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank (WB) in a discussion with implementing and other oversight agencies.
"It's not new that each development partner has actively dissected issues and come up with recommendations in workshops like this. But I am glad that for the first time, we have brought together the ADB, JICA and WB in this room to address the issues that affected the quality of our portfolios," said NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan.
The workshop specifically delved into three thematic issues that hampered the implementation of ODA projects: start-up delays, funds flow bottlenecks, and issues related to the participation of local governments.
NEDA Project Monitoring Staff OIC-Assistant Director Violeta S. Corpus said that of the 102 active loans, around 11 suffer from start up delays. "If the difference between the time that has elapsed and fund utilization rate is 30 percent or more, the project has problems in start-up delay because it was not able to catch up on its expected loan drawdown against the implementation timeline," Corpus explained.
Corpus also said that among the causes for this problem include advance procurement constraints that affect the hiring of project staff and consultants, and deficiencies in implementing land acquisition and resettlement plans.
The JAW workshop participants concurred with Corpus, who said that among the perennial funds flow bottlenecks that hamper project implementation include slow processing by oversight agencies of fund release documents, as well as slow compliance by implementing agencies to financial documentation requirements.
As to issues on the participation of local government units (LGUs), Corpus clustered the major problems into three. These include the LGUs low demand for funds from ODA re-lending facilities, difficulties with the national government-LGU cost sharing policy, and weak LGU project management capacity.
Around 70 participants attended the first JAW Workshop, which resulted in policy and process recommendations that will be incorporated in the ODA Portfolio Review. NEDA also hopes that JAW recommendations will be mainstreamed into the policies of the national government, implementing agencies, local governments and even foreign development partners.
"In the 18 years of doing portfolio review, we have put instruments, like budget strategy and fiscal discipline at the agency level, that somehow respond to major problems. We hope that the JAW exercise would come up with concrete and doable actions that can find their way to our planning, programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes," Tungpalan said.
Tungpalan added that the JAW is in line with the principles of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The said declaration is an international agreement for developing countries to exercise effective leadership over their development policies for more harmonized, transparent
and effective actions. (NEDA XI) [top]