Closing Speech by HE Sar Kheng at National Workshop on the Formulation of the 2013 NCDD Annual Work Plan and Budget on 11-12 December 2012, Phnom Penh

Excellencies, Members of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Excellencies, Members of NCDD
Excellencies, Heads of Provincial and Capital Councils…

Excellencies, Members of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Excellencies, Members of NCDD
Excellencies, Heads of Provincial and Capital Councils

ExcellenciesGovernors and Deputy Governors,
Provincial Department Directors,
Distinguished delegates from our donor partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today,it is my honor and my great pleasure to preside over the closing ceremony of this important National Workshop on the Formulation of the 2013 NCDD Annual Work Plan and Budget. I am also very pleased to hear the summary report of the workshop indicating that the workshop was conducted with the activeinvolvement of all participants andhas achieved fruitful results against the objectives set.

On behalf of the NCDD and on my own behalf, I would like to express my deep thanks to H.E KeatChhon, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance and Deputy Chairman of NCDD for spending his valuable time to preside over the opening session and to deliver important opening remarks focused onthe key issues ofthe Sub-National Democratic Development Reform process, particularly on the development of local autonomous,financing systems to enableSub-National Administrations to receive and effectively manage adequate resources for local development and service delivery and to be accountable to the citizen in their jurisdictions.

I would also like to express mygreatthanksto the NCDD Secretariat and the IP3Implementing Ministries/Institutions for their close cooperation in successfully organizing and facilitating this workshop. Their joint efforts have enabled us to maintain a spirit of good cooperation under the D&D program implementation framework which every year includes the organization of AWPB formulation workshops to reflect upon experience and lessons learned, identify key issues affecting implementation and to discuss and seek agreement on solutions to be implemented through next year’s AWPB.

I would also like to express my deep thanks to all Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemenfor spending their valuable time to participate and provide inputs during this two-day workshop. All inputs, recommendations and expected outputs for 2013 that have been agreedupon in this workshop are very important for the NCDD Secretariat in order to adjust and complete the preparation of the detailed2013 NCDD AWPB which will be submitted to the NCDD for final review and approval as soon as possible.  

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all of you here for your commitment, your participation and your active cooperation in support to the sub-national democratic development reform process. Your commitment, your participation and cooperation will enable our reform program to progress steadily and achieve the political commitment of the Royal Government and the goals and objectives of the National Program and the IP3.

The presentations and the summary report of the workshop havereflected a number of remarkable achievementsthat have been made in 2012including: the achievements in formulation of policy and regulations; the re-structuring of the Sub-National Administration and the establishment of operational mechanisms for Sub-National Administrations; the preparation of the process for the transfer of functions and resources to Sub-National Administrations; the establishment of the District/Municipal Fund and development of the District/Municipal financial management system; the strengthening of mechanisms for gender mainstreaming; the development of capacity; and the enhanced accountability mechanisms of the Sub-National Councils.   

Along with these achievements, there remain many tasks and challenges to be prioritized within the 2013 NCDD AWPB in order to ensure that the medium-term goals set out in the IP3 and the longer-term goals set out in the Organic Law and the 10-year National Program can be achieved. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the priority issues that should be the focus of our work in 2013 as follows:

First- Strengthening Ownership and Responsibility for the Reform Program:
The 10-year National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development reflects a commitment and agreement within the Royal Government on our reform policies. The National Program is being implemented through the IP3 and each year, annual work plans and budgets are formulated, implemented and managed by concerned Ministries and Institutions at the national and sub-national levels under the coordination of the NCDD. It is therefore necessary that concerned Ministries and Institutions should consider these work plans and budgets as an essential component of their overall institutional work plans and budgets which they are responsible to implement. To ensure the sustainability of the reform process, concerned Ministries and Institutions should also begin to incorporate the operational costs of their roles and responsibilities within their own annual budgets so that over time we are less dependent on external assistance.
Second- Establishment of SNA Budget, Finance and Asset Management System:
Under the Sub-National Democratic Development Framework, the objective of fiscal decentralization is to increase effectiveness and efficiency inthe mobilization, allocation and utilization of resources based on transparent decisions by local governments and within their responsibilities for promoting socio- economic development and the improvement of public service delivery in response to the needs of their citizens and vulnerable groups within their local communities. In this regard, the establishment of sub-national administration budget, finance and asset management systemsis meant to enable sub-national administrations to have the appropriate authority to both mobilize local resources and receive resources from the national budget and to allocate, manage and utilize these resources in an effective and accountable manner.
In his opening speech to the national workshop yesterday, Excellency KeatChhon, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance and Deputy Chairman of NCDDemphasized the high priority in 2013 of establishing the District/Municipal financial management system, including the completion of all remaining regulations and guidelines in the first quarter of the year, to enable the DM Fund to become fully operational. The importance of developing the capacity of the district/municipal administration and concerned stakeholders was also highlighted as well as the review of the technical support mechanism to ensure that roles, responsibilities and lines of accountability are clarified. These tasks shall be given the highest priority in the 2013 AWPB.
Third- The Transfer of the Function and Resources to Sub-national Administration:
The transfer of functions and resources to Sub-National Administrations is a key component of the National Program. The main purpose of the transfer of the functions and resources to Sub-National Administrations is to move service delivery closer to the people, improve the quality of the public service delivery to be more effective and equitable in responding to the different needs of each locality, increase ownership and responsibility of the Council of Sub-National Administrations and to strengthen participation by the people in their local development process.
In 2012, the Royal Government issued a sub-decree on the process for the transfer of functions and resources to Sub-National Administrations which provides a legal framework for the reassignment of functions and resources from ministries, institutions, departments, units and authorities at the national level to the Sub-National Administrations. To ensure that this process is carefully and smoothly undertaken, the NCDD also approved a guideline on the mapping of functions to provide guidance to Ministries and Institutions.
In 2013, the NCDD Secretariat shall strengthen cooperation and work closely with concerned ministries and institutions to complete the development of another important guideline focused on the review of functions. This functional review is intended to result in agreements in 2013 on the first set of appropriate functions to be transferred to Sub-National Administrations in the near future.
Fourth- Institutional and Human Resource Development:
The pace of the sub-national democratic development reform process strongly depends on the capacity and performance of the sub-national administrations. Over time, more functions and resources will be transferred from the national to the sub-national levels as long as human resource development improves and administrations demonstrate their ability to manage and administer new functions effectively. The 10-year National Program places a strong emphasis on capacity development as a pre-condition forprogress and sustainability of sub-national democratic development. The capacity development strategic framework developed under the IP3 focuses on both institutional and individual capacity development in Districts, Municipalities and Khans to ensure that the promotion of local development, the improvement of public service delivery, the management of reassigned functions and the provision of technical support to the Commune/Sangkat are effectively and efficiently implemented.
Over the past several years, many training activities have been organized for sub-national administrations and in 2012 capital and provincial capacity development teams were established. These training teams are expected to continuously improve their professional skills so that they can effectively organize, facilitate and provide capacity development to Districts, Municipalities, Khans, Communes and Sangkats.
In 2013, we shall continue to place a high priority on capacity development of sub-national administrations with a particular focus on Councilors and Administration staff of the Districts and Municipalities to ensure that local democratic governance and local socio-economic development can steadily improve.
The responsibility for capacity development of sub-national administrations is shared amongst concerned ministries and institutions in accordance with their mandates and competency and under the coordination of NCDDS which is responsible to ensure that capacity development interventions are in line with the key principles of the sub-national democratic development reforms. In order to ensure that the overall capacity development efforts are effectively coordinated, I would request that all training activities organized by concerned Ministries and Institutions should be consistent with the National Capacity Development Framework that has been established and designed and planned with the active cooperation of the national and capital/provincial capacity development teams. Finally, in 2013, the NCDD Secretariat will continue to cooperate with concerned Ministries and Institutions to study the feasibility of various options for establishing a National Institute for Sub-National Capacity Development for eventual submission to the NCDD for review and decision.
Fifth- Strengthen Sub-National Councils:
The 2012 progress report and theIP3 Mid Term Review report, prepared by an Independent Evaluation Team, have highlighted that the efforts to strengthen the capacity of Sub-National Councils are not yet adequate. The mechanism for facilitating and supporting capacity development for Sub-National Councils was just established in the middle of 2012 and will be a high priority in 2013. The NCDD Secretariat should cooperate and coordinate with concerned Ministries and Institutions to introduce the various technical guidelines that have been developed to promote the roles and responsibilities of the Councils as decision makers accountable to their citizens, the organizing of public forums and interaction with Commune/Sangkat Councils and civil society organizations.
In addition, the NCDD would like to promote and accelerate the process of establishing Sub-National Council Associations in accordance with the option that has been agreed upon so that over time these Associations can play a strong role in strengthening dialogue and capacity development.
Sixth- Development of Sub-National Administration Personnel Management System:
To ensure the effectiveness of the performance and autonomy of Sub-National Councils as envisaged in the Organic Law, the provision of authority to the Councils for the management of their personnel is a core component of the sub-national democratic development reform policy. We should recognize that designing an improved personnel management system for sub-national administrations has been delayed and raises important issues and challenges concerning sub-national administration performance, the accountability of sub-national administration personnel to their councils and the process of transferring functions to sub-national administrations.
In 2013, these challenges must be addressed and priority attention should be given to the delegation of certain roles and responsibilities for personnel management to the sub-national councils and their administrations. I would also like to request that the State Secretariat for Civil Service cooperate with concerned institutions to complete the draft policy on Sub-National Administration Personnel and Human Resource Management, which will provide direction to future legislation, and submit the draft to the NCDD for review and decision in early 2013.
Seventh-Strengthening the Sub-National Planning System:
While Sub-National Planning Systems were put in place following the election of Sub-National Councils in 2009, it is recognized that these systems need to be reviewed to: better reflect the autonomy of the Sub-National Councils, to better reflect the differences between the various types of sub-national administrations, such as urban and rural; and to be more consistent with the budgeting framework and timeframe.
To improve the Sub-National Planning Systems, in 2013 I would like to request that the NCDD Secretariat cooperate closely with the Ministry of Planning and other concerned institutions to finalize the draft Policy on Sub-National Planning. The policy should provide key principles and guidance necessary for the preparation of specific planning and budgeting guidelines for each type of sub-national administration aimed at promoting their local development and contributing to overall national socio-economic development in an efficient manner.
Eighth- Gender Mainstreaming:
The promotion of gender mainstreaming within the sub-national democratic development reform process has been given a high priority in the formulation and implementation of the IP3 and its sub-programs. In this regard, considerable work was undertaken in 2012 to ensure that regulations, guidelines and training manuals have been properly gender mainstreamed and we expect all implementing agencies and sub-national administrations to be committed to this effort. In 2013, we would like to see well focused gender mainstreaming plans and activities at all levels. We all know that gender mainstreaming is a long term effort but most importantly it begins with a commitment to ensure that men and women are involved in decision making and equally benefit from public investments and services.
Ninth-Strengthening Sub-National Administration Performance Monitoring and Legality control:
The preliminary results ofthe recent assessment of the management of Capital, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts and Khans, conducted by the Ministry of Interior in cooperation with the NCDD Secretariat, have revealed various weaknesses in the establishment and implementation of the new sub-national administrative structures and governance systems. These weaknesses have resulted in large part due to the weak monitoring mechanism. There is a need to strengthen this mechanism at both national and sub-national levels to ensure that the propermeasures for improvementwill be made in a timely manner and in response to the actual situation of each sub-national administration.
In responding to these issues, in 2013I would like request the Ministry of Interior and NCDDS to complete their assessment and prepare an assessment report with proposals and recommendations for the NCDD to take actions for improvement. At the same time, the NCDD Secretariat should cooperate with relevant Ministries and Institutions to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation mechanism and to conduct regular monitoring of the performance of Sub-National Administrations. This should include a review of legality controls on the decisions issued by the Sub-National Administrations to make sure that those decisions are consistent with the spirit of the law and regulations.
Tenth- Continue Support to Communes/Sangkat:
Even though the IP3 is strategically focused on the restructuring and capacity development of Districts and Municipalities, continued support to Communes and Sangkats remains a priority. The Organic Law and the IP3 assign the Districts and Municipalities the key role of providing technical support to the Communes/Sangkats and in 2013 I would like to request the Provinces to continue focusing on strengthening the capacity of the District and Municipalities in this regard so that these support functions can be fully assumed by the Districts/Municipalities in the near future.
Eleventh- Continue to Strengthen Partnerships:
The achievements of our reform efforts to date would not have been possible without the effective cooperation that has developed with our development partners and civil society organizations. In this regard, I would like to stress once again that the Royal Government has a strong political commitment to these reforms as reflected in the notable progress that has been achieved in a short time. The support of our development partners is still required for the medium term future as we work towards sustainability for the long term.
On behalf of the Cambodian people and the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our development partners for their valuable support to the democratic development reforms and I would like to assure you that your assistance willcontinue to be used ina transparent and accountable manner. We willall continue to make our best effort and deepen the cooperation with Development Partners and Civil Society Organizations to better ensure the achievement of our common goalsfor this reform.
In closing, with the fruitful results of our workshop and with the New Year coming soon, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and on behalf of the NCDD, I would like to express my appreciation to all Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen for spending their valuable time to participate and provide inputs to the two day workshop and I would like to thank the NCDD Secretariat for organizing the workshop.
I would like to wish their Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen success in their work and I would like to officially announce the closing of the National Workshop on Formulation of the 2013 NCDD Annual Work Plan and Budget.
Thank you.

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