Punjab Devolved Social Services Program
sector: Education, Health, Public Sector Management | country: Pakistan
Design. The risk assessment of political resistance to devolution was not sufficiently robust, and mitigating measures were not realistic. The design should have been revised to address political resistance to implementation of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2001 (PLGO). Failure to do so undermined program implementation. Another significant design flaw was the multi-sector and ambitious scope of the program. This observation was also raised by the executing agency (EA) during the program completion review mission. The demands of implementing reforms across four sectors limited the extent of sustained interaction in any one sector. The water supply and sanitation sector, in particular, faces a very different set of development needs and requires specific technical expertise. The multi-sector Second Social Action Program Project faced similar implementation challenges, though this lesson was not sufficiently incorporated into the program design.
Implementation. The implementation efficiency of the program was constrained by the late recruitment of the Technical Assistance Management Agency (TAMA), and the lack of recruitment of local support groups. The TAMA was meant to mobilize about 4,000 person-months of consulting services. The local support groups were expected to be mobilized in each district for 3 years to enhance capacity. For the majority of program implementation, these tasks became the responsibility of ADB and the program support unit (PSU), albeit with insufficient resources, which negatively affected implementation efficiency. A fully functional TAMA for the duration of the program would have allowed ADB to focus more on implementation of program reforms, rather than on technical assistance (TA) contract issues.
Sustainability. The focus of the EA and PSU was on implementation of the policy matrix. Considerably less importance was given to the loan covenants. The PSU indicated that it would have recruited local support groups if it had been a condition in the policy matrix; however, since it was not a tranche condition, the PSU did not feel compelled to comply. This was also the case with covenants related to social sector expenditures and conditional grants, which were key covenants for ensuring improved social sector performance. Major covenants should have been included in the policy matrix for greater consistency and to increase the likelihood of compliance.
1. Ensure that lessons learned in previous efforts are properly understood and taken into account when developing related initiatives. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 96]
2. Ensure sufficient ownership and strong leadership from key members of the elected and executive bodies of the partner government. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 97]
3. Undertake a rigorous institutional and policy environment assessment as part of preparatory work, with a political economy perspective that brings out formal and informal dynamics and incentives. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 98]
4. Specify the measures for reducing risks, and design the program accordingly. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 99]
5. Allow a time frame for preparation and processing of loans by ADB operations staff that is commensurate with the complexity of the loans. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 100]
6. ADB should ensure program modalities are flexible and adaptable enough to respond to changing circumstances to maximize outcomes. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 101]
7. The design of high risk institutional development programs should be less ambitious and should be linked to areas that already have political and policy support. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 102]
8. In closing program files, ADB should ascertain the use of funds, and if funds have yet to be channeled to their intended uses, act in accordance with the degree of fiduciary risk entailed. [Executive Summary, page vii; Main text, para. 103]