Myanmar’s accounting and auditing profession has limited exposure to international practices, and the requirement for audit reports and management letters to be in English was a major challenge during the early stages of this project. The situation was remedied only after two financial experts were mobilized under a technical assistance for a subsequent project to assist in improving the implementing agencies’ (IAs) financial management and reporting capacity. In parallel manner, while the loan agreement contained all the necessary environmental loan covenants, a safeguard compliance status review conducted during the project midterm review found that little effort had been made to comply with said covenants. The problem was deemed rooted in the IAs’ failure to appoint an environment staff or hire an environment consultant for the project. Performance improved only after the appointment of an environment staff in each of the IAs’ project management units. The project experience highlight the critical importance of the early and/or timely engagement of key experts, staff, or consultants, to ensure compliance to loan covenants. Agreements in support of this need should be worked out during the processing stage.
This project’s original schedule set the completion date at December 2016, 24 months ahead of the envisaged loan closing date of December 2018. This deviated from the ADB norm of allowing projects to be completed 6 months before the loan closing date. Given that the procurement activities were set at appraisal to be completed by June 2016, the project implementation period allotted in the loan documents would boil down to only 6 months. Notwithstanding that the project closed on time, the oversight in its overall schedule needs to be avoided in future projects. Six months was clearly insufficient to complete all the rehabilitation works under the project. Allotting a minimum of 1 year for such rehabilitation works would be more realistic.