Closing remarks at the National Workshop on the Formulation of IP3 2013 AWPB by Kristina Kühnel, Head of the Development Cooperation Section at the Embassy of Sweden in Cambodia on 12 December 2012

– Your Excellency SarKheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Chairman of the NCDD

– Excellency Members of NCDD…

– Your Excellency SarKheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Chairman of the NCDD

– Excellency Members of NCDD

– Excellencies and Representatives from the implementing agencies, government ministries and institutions, provinces, district and municipalities

– Civil society representatives and donor colleagues,

– Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you on the second and final day of the National Workshop on the Formulation of the 2013 Annual Workplan and Budget for Sub-National Democratic Development.

This workshop is indeed a key event, as its purpose is to help outlining the priorities for what shall be achieved under the decentralization reform during next year.It is also very encouraging to witness here today how widely shared the ownership of the reform is among all the stakeholders in Cambodia, including both government and civil society. This is particularly important, as ownership and engagement of all parties in the planning and implementation of the IP3 is one of the most vital factors for achieving sustainable results.

And result is of course what we all want to see, also in 2013. In this respect, I would like to raise a fewissues which I think are of particular importance for the effective implementation of the next steps of the reform; issues that I believe have also been discussed in this workshop.

The first one is about the importance of now putting the focus on the district and municipalities by giving the D/M-councils autonomy and control over resources, both in terms of finances and personnel, in order to more effectively promote local development. This can obviously not be done over one night and it needs to be complemented by building the capacities of the councils, as well as the administrations. The operationalization of the D/M-fund and progress within the area of functional re-assignment are two important aspects which I know will be central elements in the 2013 AWPB.

In connection to the D/M-funds I would like to take this opportunity to recommend both the NCDD and the sub-national administrations to closely consider how investments also in “soft” areas can be promoted – and by “soft” areas I mean social services, such as health and education, that are so vital for people’s well-being, prosperity and opportunities in life.

The second issue I would like to bring up is the importance of further strengthening the accountability mechanisms at the local level. Accountability in this respect refers to downward accountability – that is the accountability between local governments and the citizens. It also refers to upward accountability – that is the accountability between the sub-national authorities and the central government. And, equally important, it refers to internal accountability, that is the accountability of the administrations towards the elected councils.

This, I believe, is key to a successful reform and critical for Cambodia’s democratic development, of which this reform forms an important part.

Thirdly, capacity building is a central aspect for most of the results we all want to see achieved during 2013. Capacity building, however, needs to take into account not only what capacities to build, but also whose capacity and how capacity building is carried out. As we all know, capacity building is a broad subject that can be addressed in many ways – so the importance of having a strategic, effective and demand-based capacity building strategy is crucial.

Fourthly, I would like to highlight the important work done to integrate and mainstream gender equality into the reform. Addressing gender inequalities takes time, but I do believe that this reform and the implementing agencies can make substantial contributions, both in the short and long-term. I believe that we should therefore not only aim at sustaining what has been achieved so far, but use the lessons-learned to further strengthen the gender equality aspects of the program and promote women and men as equal partners in development and public life.

Finally, I think we all agree that a successful decentralization process can change and improve people’s lives, both in terms of improved services and through enhanced democracy at the local levels. I also believe that we all recognize how complex and wide-ranging the reform is. It is therefore very encouraging to see the good progress made since the IP3 was launched.

I believe that these positive results should be made visible and shared, both with the general public and with the key decision-makers. I am convinced that by being transparent and by showing tangible results, the resources needed to fully accomplish what is planned in 2013 and beyond, can be obtained, boththrough national and international resources.

With these few words and on behalf of the development partners, I would like to thank all participants for your contributions during these two days, and specifically the NCDD-S for organizing this workshop. I wish you all success in the finalization of the AWPB for 2013. I also wish you every success in your work to take the decentralization reform forward, as you will thereby contribute towards realizing the development and democratic aspirations of Cambodia and its people.

Thank you!

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