17 January 2012

Open Doors 2012: Highlights of the first day

During the WELCOME REMARKS (A. Gregorio-Medel, ANSA-EAP), we heard how ANSA-EAP is fueled by dynamic partnerships with practitioners:

  • Since its inception in 2008, ANSA-EAP has been welcoming novel ideas from citizen partners, including the young.
  • The sustainability of governance reform rests on dynamic and constructive partnerships. Like “mabuhay! (long live!)”, the Filipino greeting used to welcome friends, ANSA-EAP has been aiming to give life to multistakeholder partnerships between and among government, civil society, and citizens in its four priority countries—Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines—and in the other countries in the region.
  • At this juncture, the network is wrapping up its entry phase and transitioning to a more dynamic state (consolidation phase). Four years is too short to give life to the social accountability mission.
  • The network stands on the shoulders of its partners. Together, we continue to approximate the vision of a better world through social accountability (SAc).

We heard MESSAGES from our development partners on the SAc and procurement monitoring agenda (Marcela Rozo, WBI) and the many lessons from ANSA-EAP’s networking work (Luiza Nora, WBI):

  • Procurement and contract monitoring is widely regarded as a requirement for good public service delivery.
  • Much benefit could be reaped from looking at procurement monitoring in a holistic manner—that is, looking at its connection to the entire Public Finance Management (PFM) cycle.
  • Procurement monitoring is a good venue for multistakeholder and bottom-up approaches. There is a strong partnership between ANSA-EAP and the World Bank Institute (WBI). This manifests not only in WBI’s support to the network’s work in the EAP region, but in collaborations to bring lessons on coalition building in procurement monitoring to other regions (e.g., Africa) as well. ANSA-EAP also has a lot to share to the global network of ANSAs—Africa, South Asia Region, and most recently, Arab World.
  • According to literature, it usually takes 7 to 10 years to build a network. What ANSA-EAP has accomplished in just four years is remarkable.

In the KEYNOTE ADDRESS (Hon. Florencio Abad, Department of Budget and Management Secretary, Republic of the Philippines), we heard about the value of political will in propelling governance reform in a country:
  • "Procurement is a sexy word” but at the end of the day, what brings people closer to their government is good service delivery, marked by procurement processes that ensure timeliness and value for money.
  • The current administration, led by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, has articulated the connection between corruption and poverty. Part of the plan to curb corruption in the country—and therefore, improve people’s lives—is the strengthening of PFM mechanisms for transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. For instance: the budget process this year will feature 24 agency-CSO engagements on budget preparation, a hundred percent increase from last year.
  • With the opening of government’s doors to partnerships with citizens, the issue now lies with getting enough capable civil society groups to respond to the invitation to work with government in monitoring PFM processes.
  • In the next three days, we hope to learn from the work done in other countries. While procurement is highly technical and administrative, we can achieve transparent and accountable services for citizens with open partnership.

    During the session on UPDATES from the EAP REGION, practitioners from the procurement subnetworks in Cambodia (Sam Oeun Sok), Indonesia (Heni Yulianto & Yuyu Komariyak), Mongolia (Gantsogt Khurelbaatar & Tsetsgee Gavaa), and the Philippines (Carole Belisario) shared significant developments from their respective countries. Some of these updates are:
    • Cambodia passed its Public Procurement Law in January 2012. Cambodian civil society is lobbying for the amendment of the law to include, among other things, citizen participation. The Cambodia procurement subnetwork conducted a research on the public procurement system in the country prior to the enactment of the law.
    • Indonesia’s draft procurement law has provisions covering CSO monitoring—this is where tools and techniques on constructive engagement will prove useful.
    • The Public Procurement Law of Mongolia was passed in 2000 although its implementing rules and regulations—which now include provisions on the participation of citizens and the private sector—still have to be ratified. Sixteen CSOs have been working as the Mongolia procurement subnetwork, taking on training and advocacy functions related to procurement.
    • The Government Procurement Reform Act of the Philippines has been in effect since 2003, which explains the relatively advanced procurement monitoring activities in the country. Among other activities, the Philippine Procurement Network has conducted a mapping and capacity assessment of monitors in 19 provinces (out of 70).

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