The United Nations Development Programme will provide US$3.53 million over the next five years to support the Ministry of Planning and Investment to implement the 7th National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP 2011-2015).
The 7th NSEDP aims towards inclusive and equitable growth, achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and substantial progress towards graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status.
Representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other relevant sectors and organisations gathered in Vientiane yesterday to discuss the progress, issues and challenges of implementing key programmes in various areas over the past year.
They also discussed the main priorities for the departments of Planning, Cooperation and Statistics and the National Economic Research Institute in the upcoming year.
Over the five year period from 2011-2015, the Ministry of Planning and Investment requires about US$9 million in total to put towards a programme administered by the ministry regarding the Millennium Development Goals. The donation from the UNDP will put the ministry some way towards sourcing the funds, and they hope to source another US$5 million from other international organisations and donors.
Most of the funding will go towards supporting the programme, which consists of four mutually supportive components including consultative planning, effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as assessment and reporting on progress towards achieving the NSEDP and MDGs.
A key focus of the programme is to strengthen the ministry's capacity to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the NSEDP and MDGs via Laoinfo, a computer database system that compares various figures and statistics.
The funding will also support the Round Table Process for the Achievement of NSEDP and MDGs and advancing human development through policy research on the key issues relevant to achieving the NSEDP and the MDGs.
Over the seven months of last year, the ministry spent more than US$800,000 on the programme, and expects to need at least US$1 million to effectively administer it this year, ministry officials said.
At the annual review meeting, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somchith Inthamith highlighted the outstanding achievements of the ministry, including the consensus agreed to at the Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM), with the new format and the support of development partners very much appreciated.
However, there are more challenges to be overcome prior to the 2012 RTIM later this year. They include effectively building mechanisms for coordination and further strengthening the Sector Working Groups' annual performance, as well as effectively implementing the Vientiane Declaration and Country Action Plan, he said.
The Department of Planning received UNDP support to finalise and disseminate the goals and targets of the 7th five year NSEDP for 2011-2015. That included coordinating the annual RTIM with the Ministry of Finance and other line ministries, undertaking regular consultation on progress towards the 7th NSEDP, and quantifying the public investment requirement to achieve the goals.
The department also worked in close collaboration with its strategic partners, which include both govern-ment and non-government organizations, towards furthering development cooperation, Mr Somchith said. He cited the example of the participatory Planning Manual at the village level, which has been prepared in a highly participative manner with different line ministries and development partners.
The National Economic Research Institute has also pr oduced a number of studies and reports relevant to achieving the goals outlined in the NSEDP, he said. All the relevant sectors and departments take their planning and responsibilities very seriously, and will make every effort towards achieving the MDGs by 2015, he assured meeting participants.