Many public resource reforms, especially those relating to taxes or concessions as in the SPBL, have political and economic implications and are often difficult to undertake without strong ownership. The SPBL implementation success is attributable to (i) a good understanding of the vested interests, (ii) the institutional capacity of government agencies, (iii) effective partnership and coordination between ADB and the government, and (iv) a strong sense of appreciation for the overall benefits of the program.
This special policy-based loan (SPBL) was developed in close consultation with the government and development partners, including the International Monetary Bank and the World Bank, and was designed through a holistic approach. The experience demonstrated that a comprehensive and holistic consultation process can ensure effective diagnosis of the issues, leading to a strong, relevant policy matrix that prioritizes reform measures and sets realistic timelines in collaboration with the development partners.
The difficult Social Action Program experience with the multi-sectoral approach is raised in the PCR and validation as a lesson missed in the program design, but this was not the underlying weakness in the design. Lessons from international experiences in devolution and capacity development were missed.
Unrealistic work schedules, poor procurement planning, insufficient implementation details, and loose monitoring targets prolonged implementation. A well-qualified and experienced project team leader and consultants’ familiarity with ADB processes are essential to implement an ADB-financed project.
ADB could have satisfied itself about project readiness in the key areas of detailed design, safeguards, procurement, and establishment of the project implementation unit.
A flexible approach could have been adopted with adequate supervision support for sector specialists in capacity development activities. Discussions at the technical level should have led to higherlevel discussion as the proposed reforms were far-reaching.