Acting Planning Minister Amara Konneh’s Opening Statement Delivered at the 2013 GoL/UNDP Annual Program Review MeetingNov 26, 2013
Fellow Members of Cabinet and other government officials here present;
His Excellency Aeneas Chuma, UN Resident Coordinator, and Heads of Agencies of the United Nations System present;
Mr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, UNDP Country Director, and staff of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); Our development partners present; Technicians of the various Ministries, Agencies and Commissions involved in the implementation of UNDP supported programs;
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
Let me begin by expressing thanks and appreciation, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, for the critical role that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continues to play in the implementation of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
As the UN Mission in Liberia continues to draw down over the coming months, we can only begin to appreciate the critical leadership role that UNDP will assume in coordinating the delivery of the United Nations’ development assistance to Liberia.
It has been six months since the formal launch of the GoL/UNDP 2013-2017 Country Program. Today, we are gathered to review progress that has been achieved since then, across the eleven programs that constitute the GoL/UNDP Country Program.
These 11 country programs form an integral part of 3 out of the 5 pillars of the AfT, and cover the interrelated issues of Decentralization, Constitution Review and Elections. Today, our goal is to take a deep look into the UNDP’s support to Liberia in those areas and evaluate its contribution to achieving the results that we committed to, in the AfT.
The Government of Liberia acknowledges the critical support that the UNDP will provide over the next five years to decentralization, which the government sees as important for accelerating Liberia’s long term development by enhancing the efficiency of our institutional arrangements.
The important role of the UNDP in supporting the constitutional review process must also be noted, because it was in fact UNDP funding, along with that of Government, which allowed the Constitution Review Committee to become operational. The Government of Liberia also notes with appreciation the role that UNDP is still playing to galvanize further funding and technical support for the Constitution Review process.
Support to the next cycle of elections in Liberia that will help strengthen and deepen our democracy, and consolidate the hard bought peace is also critical. In this area, we are confident of the UNDP’s continued partnership with the Government to successfully deliver the 2014 Special Elections and the 2017 General Elections. The early set-up of an elections basket fund especially for the 2017 General and Presidential Elections is a key area of collaboration that the Government of Liberia will seek with the UNDP.
As we gather today for this review under the theme ‘UNDP’s contribution to the Agenda for Transformation – drawing early lessons in the transition to NIM’, I am pleased to note that a great deal of technical background work has gone into preparation for this review, so as to link progress on UNDP supported programs to the results matrix of the Agenda for Transformation.
At the end of today’s exercise, I will be keenly looking forward to a presentation from my Liberia Development Alliance team to clearly show me how the UNDP funded programs are contributing overall to the first year implementation of the Agenda for Transformation.
Your Excellency, Mr. Chuma, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
You may recall that in my remarks at the launch of the GoL/UNDP Country Program, at this same venue in June, I expressed the Government’s approval of the current paradigm shift in the UNDP’s implementation modality for development assistance under the 2013-2017 country programs, from direct implementation modality (DIM) to national implementation modality (NIM).
I urged the UNDP, then, to stand firm in its commitment to assist the Government in strengthening the institutional and technical capacities required for national implementation, as NIM became progressively operational for financial and project management.
Six months into implementation, challenges have emerged, which have notable implications for overall program delivery. But these challenges are to be expected; and, rather than give up, I urge both my colleagues in government and our partners at the UNDP to stay the course. National implementation as the modality for program delivery is new, both to the UNDP and to the government implementation partners. It is only six months old. The early challenges facing both the UNDP and the national partners are to be expected in any change process, while the proper and consistent interpretation and application of NIM business processes and tools is being internalized.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let us all remember that the national implementation modality as the means to deliver development assistance is consistent with the principles of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action; and it is reinforced by the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, for which Liberia is a pilot country.
The use of country systems that we are championing can only be achieved through the use of such methods as NIM, which seeks to strengthen country systems and processes to meet the demand for efficiency and accountability in the use of development assistance.
As the Government of Liberia strives to deliver on its commitments, the national implementation modality is critical to support our efforts to attract direct budget support by taking practical measures that instill development partners’ confidence in our national systems.
As we discuss the challenges that have emerged in the NIM roll-out process, over the last six months, I urge that we approach the discussion with a focus on solutions to ensure that the challenges are resolved and that implementation is smoother and swifter in 2014. I, therefore, also look forward to an early start for implementation of the 2014 annual work plans.
Finally, as we take stock of what we have achieved in 2013, and especially our interventions over the last 6 months under the NIM modality, I urge us all to maintain a focus on the outcomes set forth in the results framework matrix of the Agenda for Transformation, and design our 2014 annual work plan accordingly.
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