KATHMANDU, AUGUST 30
The joint portfolio review of the government of Nepal and the World Bank concluded recently covering 27 ongoing World Bankfinanced projects with a net commitment of $3.27 billion.
The concluding meeting was chaired by Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini and World Bank Country Director for Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos in the presence of Finance Minister Janardan Sharma and Vice-Chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC), Biswo Poudel.
Highlighting the perspective of general citizens on government projects, Finance Minister Sharma instructed the completion of projects within the stipulated time while maintaining quality, and urged all participants to utilise scientific tools and techniques for project implementation. The ,inister also thanked the World Bank for its continued support to the Nepal government.
The concluding meeting was held at the Ministry of Finance with a hybrid model consisting of in-person as well as virtual presence considering the health protocol. The meeting discussed on issues that remain unresolved at the line ministry level and of strategic importance which required high level attention. The meeting discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on project implementation that had led to delays.
In addition, other generic implementation issues such as weak capacity in project management especially at provincial and local levels, frequent turnover of civil servants, procurement delays, safeguard related issues, and slow disbursement were discussed.
Focusing on coordinated and joint efforts for delivering development impacts, Finance Secretary, Marasini requested the participants to build a common understanding to improve the overall implementation environment of the projects. He expressed his appreciation of the assistance provided by the World Bank even during difficult times.
The annual stocktaking exercise is organised to review performance of ongoing projects, review implementation challenges, and identify measures to resolve such challenges collaboratively. Sectoral meetings that were organised with relevant line ministries under the chair of respective secretaries discussed in depth key results achieved under each project, underlying issues and challenges, and agreed actions to resolve such issues. The World Bank's current project portfolio in Nepal covers energy, transport, earthquake housing reconstruction, education, health, social protection, environment, urban development, water and irrigation, agriculture and livestock, and public financial management sectors.
"While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the pace of development works in Nepal, we are encouraged by the government's efforts to strengthen implementation and deliver results amid the pandemic's challenges," stated Hadad-Zervos. "The pandemic has also provided an opportunity to recalibrate our approach to improve project implementation and capital spending, whereby our projects deliver timely results for benefit of Nepalis."
The portfolio review was attended by secretaries, joint secretaries, and director generals from related ministries and departments, NPC, Financial Comptroller General Office, and representatives from the World Bank and project teams.
A version of this article appears in the print on August 31 2021, of The Himalayan Times.