Social Sectors Support Program
sector: Education, Health, Finance, Public Sector Management, Water and Other Urban Infrastructure and Services | country: Mongolia
1. There is a need for sustained engagement in social protection. The enduring relevance of the Social Sectors Support Program, which has continued after the financial crisis, underlines the importance of the key objective of ADB’s Social Protection Strategy to build social protection systems in non-crisis years and its emphasis that such a system should not be based on a oneoff response to a crisis. Sustained engagement in policy dialogue in non-crisis years is critical to building demand for social protection beyond the crisis response. This engagement sustains political support in non-crisis years, especially when it is part of ADB’s inclusive growth agenda.
2. By underpinning some of the most important policy issues in the social sector, the Social Sectors Support Program (SSSP) maintained ADB’s position at the center of social sector policy reform in Mongolia. Further modernization of the social protection system, including wider and better use of targeting, will require continuous external technical and capacity development support to strengthen institutions and human resources. The SSSP also created the scope to (i) jump-start ADB’s partnership with the new government elected in July 2012 by expanding on the SSSP policy reform measures, (ii) build on ADB’s long track record in the social sector, and (iii) sustain the strong collaborative links with development partners that the SSSP reinforced.
3. Even in the context of a crisis situation, the 20 months allowed at appraisal for the Social Sectors Support Program’s (SSSP) implementation was inadequate, particularly for achieving the technically and politically challenging goals of social welfare targeting and consolidation. A reform process in this area tends to be protracted and highly contentious – a fact that was established by the Social Security Sector Development Program (2002-2009) and reconfirmed by the SSSP. An enormous amount of time and resources were needed to establish the proxy means test and the intersector database, especially in an environment where resistance to reforms and reluctance to shift from categorical targeting were strong. When designing future programs to reform social protection in Mongolia, ADB will need to conduct a deeper analysis of the potential obstacles and consider making implementation periods longer to adjust to them.
4. The technical assistance (TA) attached to the program proved to be crucial to achieving the policy reforms. The TA inputs ensured the technical quality and overall sustainability of the policy measures and contributed significantly to the success of the program. The experience points to the need to back up program loans with strong technical assistance.