Tonga: Economic Support Program
sector: Public Sector Management | country: Tonga
This validation concurs with the project completion report (PCR) lesson and recommendation for other externally supported programs to adopt a consolidated approach. Each proposed program is to link itself to a single, consolidated government-led policy matrix. This approach will enhance coordination and collaboration and government ownership. Another critical lesson unique to Tonga is to have the exact method for ADB verification of each tranche and/or policy action to be discussed and agreed upon beforehand with the government.
The PCR also listed other lessons that are generally applicable to future programs, such as (i) policy actions need to match capacity; (Reflecting on the program design, the PCR reported that some ADB development partners considered that a tougher stance should have been taken to promote deeper structural reforms (e.g., reduce civil service redundancies) as first tranche policy actions. Some of the adopted actions (e.g., achieving financial ratios) were considered too easy to implement. This illustrates the challenge one would have in balancing reform ambitions with institutional capacity and political will on the ground.) and (ii) provision of a technical assistance (TA) that can effectively aid program implementation. Based on the program’s lack of success in tracking its impact on the health and education services standards, this validation recommends that future programs should exercise closer scrutiny to ensure that outcome indicators are available and accessible. Generally, for reform actions meant to assist or to protect vulnerable groups, a deeper analysis on the program design needs to be undertaken, rather than focus on maintaining or enlarging certain budgetary allocations. After program completion, the PCR recommended that a continuing monitoring be done by ADB through its various missions to Tonga to ensure sustained benefits of the policy actions. This validation supports this recommendation and notes that the follow-on the Strengthening Public Financial Management Program (SPFMP) is a vehicle to help ensure impact sustainability.