While technical assistance in the form of logistical support, advisory assistance (through consultant inputs), study tours, and training help to improve project capabilities, they do not necessarily address long-term sustainability of institutions. Efforts towards promoting sustainability, such as for the SBEC, should include developing appropriate and effective financial systems, installing an effective management information system, institutionalizing good governance and management structure, and strengthening risk assessment, loan appraisal, and monitoring skills.
The project had no clear strategy on how the Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) should be supported beyond the life of the project. The SBEC was left with a huge loan guarantee portfolio at the end of the project and no long-term means to sustain its operations.
In the context of Samoa—where the financial market is relatively underdeveloped, the collateral framework is weak, and institutions have limited capacity—a more simple and focused project design would have been more appropriate. Some of the subcomponents such as the venture capital fund, credit bureau and chattels registry were totally new activities which made the design more complex and difficult to implement. Also, clearly a modest project like this would not be the best vehicle for addressing a fundamental political issue like land ownership. Greater focus should have been placed on creating an enabling environment for the financing and growth of micro and small enterprises. This would have involved developing the policy and legal environment for the sector, which to some extent was achieved by the project, and building institutions to service the sector.
The capacity constraints of implementing agencies were not clearly defined early on in implementation, especially the credit components. No clear strategies were developed to address constraints in the social and cultural environment and in market conditions that affect the policy component. As a result, the project suffered delays and the delivery of outputs and outcomes was significantly affected. Findings from project supervision should be used consistently to adjust project in light of experience.
Project management flexibility provided to the borrower or executing agency may negatively affect project implementation and, consequently, the achievement and sustainability of project outcomes. The project could have benefitted more from a closer analysis of (i) the institutional arrangements for school financing and management; (ii) the need to rebuild schools that had deteriorated due to lack of maintenance; (iii) the budgetary and human resource implications of adding 2 years of education in 12 district secondary schools; and (iv) community acceptance of government prescriptions for enrollment ceilings and zoning, and school committee composition and responsibilities. Thus, essential sector analyses should be carried out to ensure appropriateness of project design.
Lessons from the ESP PCR regarding harmonization of external inputs were applied to the ESP II under a sector-wide approach. While progress in harmonization of aid arrangements has been recognized in the recent evaluation of the implementation of aid effectiveness principles by the Government of Samoa, the funding agencies and government partners noted continuing problems, as arrangements require them to conform to ADB procurement systems, which are difficult to apply in a very small island country.
The IEM's school survey highlighted the thin spread of limited resources across the formal education system, which was also noted in the 2006 National Human Development Report for Samoa. Undertaking economic analysis of the education sector with examination of affordability issues would encourage policy development toward a more efficient use of resources such as specialist teachers and modern educational technology, including computers in schools. Given the excellent roads, transport services, and communications in rural Samoa, a greater consolidation of education services will improve the achievement of education sector objectives. In addition, community understanding and appreciation of these economic issues would ensure greater efficiency in achieving equity and improving quality in Samoa’s education system.
Following the restructuring of Public Works Department in the early phase of project implementation, a new mechanism was required to ensure proper supervision during subproject design and construction. As the midterm review for the ESP II noted, an education ministry cannot be expected to have the technical resources for this purpose.
The TA for energy policy, regulatory components, and DSM implemented by MOF was effective for two of the three components, and only partly for DSM. The TA completion report stated that a major lesson is that policy development in Pacific countries is best supported by provision of assistance for policy implementation, not merely through support for policy development. The CEF established under the project was inadequately financed, with resources far below those indicated in the RRP and was not used for clean energy projects, whether small scale generation or DSM.
Although Samoa is in a cyclone-prone area, wind turbines have built-in mechanisms to lock and feather the blades (reducing the surface area that points into the wind) when wind speeds exceed 90 kilometers per hour.
At the project level, project administration missions need to pay more attention to the quality of the design and implementation of the project performance management system so that good operational data can be collected. This would greatly assist in the efficiency and development impact assessments of projects.
The considerable time lost due to misunderstandings among the partners at the beginning of the project, for example, might have been avoided if early agreement had been reached on how to deal with the different accountability mechanisms and requirements of the partners.
There is also a need for ADB program to assign focus areas for policy coordination and monitoring among ADB and other development partners so that respective contributions to policy dialogue under the different program components can be traced.
This program’s experience highlights the critical importance of ADB staying fully engaged with the program of reforms it is supporting, regardless of whether funds are to be disbursed or not in a particular year. All future policy-based programs should be directed to consider this lesson during both design and implementation. In retrospect, a stand-alone policy-based grant and loan would have been preferable to the programmatic approach employed by this intervention, which could not be completed under the original financing arrangement to finance the second subprogram through a loan because of the slippage in Samoa’s debt risk assessment from moderate to high risk.
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) history of support for reforms embraces some 15 policy-based loans and grants to Pacific developing member countries, including the Economic Recovery Support Program and Public Sector Financial Management in Samoa. Lessons from these interventions bear out the need to (i) build on ownership of reforms, (ii) build on existing efforts, (iii) accommodate the political economy, (iv) carefully time the intervention; (v) employ participation and build consensus; (vi) incorporate capacity and institutional development, (vii) keep the design simple and allow for flexibility in the design, (viii) sequence reforms, and (ix) monitor progress. While these lessons were incorporated into the design of the program, implementation was challenged by the series of events triggered by the slippage in the debt risk assessment of Samoa from moderate to high risk, allowing the government to access ADB financing on a 100% grant basis from 1 January 2018. In view of this slippage, the government chose to delay to 2018 subprogram 2, originally agreed to be financed by a loan of equal amount to the grant provided by ADB for subprogram 1. The delay, which prompted ADB to step back in its engagement with Samoa and not join ongoing discussions around policy priorities and track the changes in the joint action policy matrix agreed between government and development partners led the government and ADB to eventually agree not to proceed with subprogram 2. Had ADB’s response been resolved earlier and had government ownership of the program been as firm as anticipated during the design stage, implementation may have gone on a different course and allowed for a better performance rating.