Donors to cut aid strings
Development partners will reduce the number of conditionalities under a joint cooperation strategy (JCS) and the government will formulate a result-based development framework for effective use of foreign assistance.
After a wide range of consultations at various forums in the last five years, the JCS agreement was signed yesterday for the 2010-15 tenure. Six action plans have been set for fiscal 2010-2011.
The deal will also harmonise the activities of the development partners.
The development partners in the JCS said: "We further commit to reducing the number of conditionalities and basing the related benchmarks on the government's plans and strategies."
They also promised to increase multi-year predictability of aid flows and reduce the overall number of parallel project implementation units.
They said they would reduce transaction costs resulting from uncoordinated development activities.
The government and 18 development partners signed the first-ever JCS agreement at the National Economic Council auditorium in Dhaka.
Economic Relations Division Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan signed the deal on behalf of the government and Country Representative of UK Department for International Development (DFID) Chris Austin signed on behalf of the donors.
At the signing ceremony, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said every year around 600 missions from the development partners visit Bangladesh. "On an average one mission comes every day. Every donor has its own rules and formalities."
The finance minister said the JCS agreement will harmonise the donors' activities, saving time and costs. Some donors have already said they would not go for separate country assistance strategies and use a single strategy.
The ERD in a statement said the JCS has a detailed annual action plan. It includes joint activities to strengthen the government's aid management capacity, improved public financial management, and joint monitoring and evaluation activities.
Other issues of mutual interest are the development partners' alignment to the government policies, priorities, systems and procedures, the statement added.
ERD officials said there are mainly three components in the JCS -- joint commitment of the government and development partners, a six-point action plan, and a detailed development partner mapping as to which donor would work in which area.
The government will approve the sixth five-year plan and aid management policy and strategy by December this year. The project approval and implementation processes will witness reforms by early next year, while new programme-based approach for the health and education sectors will be drawn by June 2011.
The national sector development results framework would be drafted by October 2010 and it would be finalised by December.
The ERD officials said, for every sector there will be separate indexes prepared for taking stock of what work is being done and what is its outcome. On the basis of the indexes, the development partners would monitor the progress and outcome of the works.
The officials also said the development partners will carry out field visits.
The meeting of Bangladesh Development Forum will be held in March 2011. The progress of JCS will be reviewed every year and it will be submitted in the plenary of the Local Consultative Group.
The signatories among the development partners were the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Germany, the Islamic Development Bank, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the United Nations, the US and the World Bank.
Planning Minister AK Khandker and DFID Country Representative Chris Austin spoke at the signing ceremony.