Mr. Khammoune Viphongxay, Vice Minister for Home Affairs, opened the National Review Workshop on Strengthening Capacity of Sub-National Administration today, highlighting the need for critical investment in developing human resources and improving management systems of local administrations in order to be better equipped to achieve sustainable growth, permanent poverty reduction, achieve MDGs and graduate from LDC status by 2020.
One of the most effective approaches used in Lao PDR to support administrative capacities for delivering local government services has been the District Development Fund (DDF). The DDF is a model of governance reforms, piloted by UNCDF and UNDP, in which capacity development and direct service delivery occur simultaneously, using local government staff. By providing both capital funds for investments and capacity building for local officials, the DDF districts are able to engage in effective participatory planning and budgeting processes, meeting local needs, addressing local priorities while financing a range of investments and building up their long term capacities to manage public expenditure and finance.Experience across 35 Districts and over 6 years has shown that district administrations can effectively manage local development and poverty reduction. The DDF mechanism has strengthened the institutional and technical capacity of the district administration, while providing support and guidance from the provincial level administration and initial capacity building and monitoring from the national government. This empowerment of districts has reinforced the whole of the sub-national government system, enhancing coordination between different tiers of government.
The Vice Minister of Home Affairs expressed his satisfaction stating that “... the DDF has promoted sustainable improvements to public service delivery through demonstrating and strengthening the capacity of the district administrations and testing improved financial management procedures... “. He continued by stressing that ”the DDF is also a lower-cost model, which means more donor support goes directly to fight poverty in the local communities...”.
The lessons learnt from DDF have fed into the government’s new National Governance and Public Administration Reform (GPAR) Programme 2011 – 2015, which sets out as key priorities for the future, human resources development and improvement of management, governance regulations and systems of government administrations. The recently established Ministry of Home Affairs, with the support of the new National GPAR Programme, will address a comprehensive package of reforms in public administration. This includes: strengthening the institutional and legal environment of public administration and local administration; organizational improvement in government; strengthening MDG-focused service delivery at district level; building capacity for human resource development and training in the civil service as well as strengthening civil society engagement in governance.
In the past years, UNCDF has been supporting the Government of Lao PDR in its efforts to transform public service delivery to tackle inequalities and reduce poverty, focussing at the local levels and district administrations.