The following documents provide key background information for the 2016 Round Table Implementation meeting.
The following are the key recommendations from development partners that resulted from the 2016 Round Table Implementation Meeting:
I. Overall context and progress (points 1-4)
Development partners used the opportunity of the Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM) to congratulate the Lao Government on its successful hosting of the ASEAN Summits, including the visit of a great number of Heads of State and Government.
Development partners expressed satisfaction with the format of the plenary consultations this year – largely that of a policy dialogue – which is what delegations had desired. The substantive areas of dialogue were helpful for better understanding and clarifying mutual development priorities going forward. It reflected an open and engaging process, which was greatly appreciated. The range of stakeholders, contributing to the Government-led discussions, included National Assembly members, provincial authorities, ODA partners, regional partners, private sector, civil society and the United Nations. This served to demonstrate the evolving and diversifying development partnership, which is essential for the purposes of achieving the goals of the 8th NSEDP and the Sustainable Development Goals.
All delegates benefited from a comprehensive overview, presented by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, of the first year of implementation of the NSEDP for 2016, including the main challenges and priorities for 2017.
Since the focus of the RTIM was on implementation, the event was held for the first time in Vientiane Province, where all participants could gain better insight into local development challenges. For these purposes, H.E. Mr. Vidong Sayasone, Governor of Vientiane Province, organized a useful range of field visits to agricultural, vocational training and health sector projects. Field visits were well attended, highly valued by development partners and an impressive reflection of development in practice. The two-day RTIM was very well organized by the Government and provincial authorities and conducted in a friendly atmosphere.
II. The substantive content (points 5-9)
Preparation for this year’s RTIM had commenced early. A number of key cross-cutting themes central to the NSEDP goal of graduation from LDC status, were prioritized for discussion and four pre-RTIM consultation groups established. This helped advance the RTIM agenda ‘from dialogue to action’. It also served to link this year’s meeting to priority areas agreed at last year’s High-Level Round Table Meeting, the four priority areas covered being (included):
In each of these areas, two months of intensive preparatory work resulted in four parallel panel discussions on day one of the RTIM and generated concrete action points for immediate attention. These were presented to the plenary of the meeting on day two.
The Government and development partners agree that Lao PDR is susceptive to domestic shocks and has a limited buffer in the economic, human and environmental areas. Making Lao PDR more resilient is a common agenda for all, since addressing these vulnerabilities is central for LDC graduation. Within the economic and governance sectors, the following issues featured prominently within the RTIM discussions.
All delegates acknowledged the importance of the initiatives of the Lao Government in strengthening domestic revenue generation as the core source of sustainable development financing. This is a clear priority area going forward, alongside that of the introduction of Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks, which would significantly assist development partners in the alignment of development cooperation.
Efforts to achieve and maintain a higher quality of growth is of fundamental importance and interest to all stakeholders and to the success of the NSEDP. Making growth sufficiently inclusive, and of impact to poverty reduction, is one of the greatest challenges. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development – for which Lao PDR has been a champion – includes the overall objective of ‘leaving no one behind’. Development partners reiterated their support for the Government to achieve higher quality growth, to enable that aspiration a reality.
Delegates were reminded on a number of occasions that the private sector will make the majority of investment needed for the achievement of the goals of the NSEDP. Improvements to the investment climate and human resource development were agreed to be paramount in order to attract high quality investors to contribute more to social and sustainable development. The ‘one-stop-shop’ concept to make investment processes more transparent and more efficient appeared as a good practical step in the right direction. Human Resource development and establishment of training mechanisms will also play a significant role to strengthen the competitiveness of Lao PDR within the region. Reinvigoration of the Lao Business Forum as a development partner could also have great value in securing a robust mechanism for dialogue, so that mutual development goals can be pursued.
III. Substantive content on Governance and service delivery (points 10-12)
The Government is making important administrative and legislative progress towards Lao PDR becoming a rule of law state by 2020, as a fundamental prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable development. This noble goal was appreciated by stakeholders to the RTIM. Government and development partners agreed on the importance of strong measures to tackle corruption in all its forms and for the rigorous enforcement of anti-corruption laws. This is essential for a number of reasons, not least for supporting an enabling environment for greater investments, as mentioned earlier. Partners touched briefly, but importantly, on the issue of illegal logging – in which steps taken recently by the Government, Prime Minister, were commended. Development partners will continue to support the Government’s aim to raise forest cover, alongside further steps needed on wildlife trafficking and land tenure security.
General commitment was expressed to the pursuit of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations. It was appreciated that the Government is working with line ministries to mainstream human rights into the 8th NSEDP, thereby reinforcing the natural link between human rights and development. A human rights-based approach underpins the principle of access for all to essential health, education, water and sanitation services, as well as access to information and participation in development activities. A strengthened partnership approach for following up on the UPR recommendations was suggested. Development partners also acknowledge the Government’s intention to progress its agenda on human rights covenants and other international commitments.
Linked to the above, delivery of basic services remains uneven and poverty remains a challenge, especially in remote rural areas. A number of approaches were raised at the RTIM, for example, ‘local delivery mechanisms’, ‘decentralized budget allocations’ and ‘improved targeting’ as possible measures to help sharpen implementation for impact where needs are greatest. All partners look forward to learning further lessons in 2017, as to which modalities in Lao PDR, prove to be best suited to local conditions. Development partners benefitted from the Government’s perspectives on the Sam Sang (three builds) model.