Development Partners Share Outcomes of 11th High Level Round Table Meeting With the President
Vientiane, 20 November 2013 – Heads of key Development Partner delegations were led by H.E Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to brief H.E. Mr. Choummaly Xayasone, President of Lao PDR, on the results of the 11th High Level Round Table Meeting (HL RTM) held on 19 November 2013, which featured what they called “a very interactive, frank and fruitful discussion.”
H.E. President Choummaly Xayasone warmly welcomed the visiting delegation, led by Mr. Haoliang Xu, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, who also co-chaired the HL RTM. The President expressed appreciation at the briefing for the successful results of the HL RTM and the Development Partners’ constructive comments and contribution during the meeting.
Priority issues that require additional attention include macroeconomic management and growth, off-track Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), governance reform and development cooperation for effective results, noted Mr. Haoliang Xu.
Overall, the Development Partners congratulated the Government on progress since the last HL RTM, in 2010, and the solid achievements reflected in both the Mid Term Review of the 7th National Socio Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2011-2015 and the 2013 national progress report on the MDGs. They also welcomed the inclusive approach to participation in the HL RTM, which involved all levels of Government as well as Non Profit Associations and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs).
The international partners particularly encouraged the Government to ensure a balance between sustained economic growth, macroeconomic stability and quality of development to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, including women, children and ethnic groups. In particular, they noted the positive steps by the Government to reduce the current fiscal deficit and stressed the need to sustain a focus on equity and enable prioritization of allocations to MDG-related sectors. They further urged coordinated and sustained efforts across a range of related macroeconomic measures and structural reforms, while providing adequate buffers to cope with any future shocks.
Development Partners also recommended that preparations of the 8th NSEDP 2016-2020 include reforms designed to help prioritize and accurately measure multi-year commitments and results. Several partners encouraged the Lao Government to consider the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard for improving transparency in the natural resource sector, which represents another opportunity to increase national revenues and their predictability.
In addition, the Development Partners stressed the importance of modernizing and diversifying the economy. This could particularly be achieved, they noted, through improving the business environment and developing the private sector and small and medium enterprises, especially in rural areas and outside of natural resource exploitation.
With regard to MDG1 targets on food and nutrition security, the Government’s approval of a multisectoral convergence approach to deal with the serious issue of undernutrition was strongly welcomed. Under MDG2, on education, priority for resources for primary education and tackling of high dropout rates were emphasized. Under MDGs 4 and 5, Development Partners welcomed the commitment of the Government to strengthen health systems and improve health governance, as well as commitments to ensure free access to Maternal and Child Health services. Key issues with regard to MDG7 involved supporting national efforts to increase forest coverage target, along with more intensive engagement on land policy, including the securing of land tenure. Lastly, Development Partners encouraged a stronger focus on completing surveys to identify the precise locations of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO); so doing, they said, can help to reach MDG9 clearance targets while also releasing land for social and economic use.
The Development Partners also strongly encouraged the Lao Government to ensure a more consistent and safe environment for CSOs. They also welcomed the intention to hold a joint conference between Government, INGOs and other Development Partners in early 2014 to improve both coordination and the regulatory framework for INGOs. In addition, they welcomed efforts of the Government to improve the capacities to support a more enabling environment for local NPAs.
Lastly, the Development Partners congratulated the Government for launching the public portal of the Aid Management Platform and pledged to contribute information in the interests of enhanced transparency and cooperation.
It will be vital for the Government to ensure successful implementation of the HL RTM outcomes, H.E. Mr. President Choummaly stressed and urged the relevant authorities to follow up on the results regularly. At the same time, he noted that a continuous inflow of Official Development Assistance (ODA), including technical cooperation, has been critical in supporting overall development of the country. In particular, he cited Development Partners’ positive contributions to implementation of the 7th NSEDP and achievement of the MDGs.
In all, representatives of 12 Department Partner delegations, in addition to UNDP, called upon the President. These included the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Brunei, China, European Union (EU), France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, USA, Vietnam, and the World Bank.
Ms. Silavanh Vongphosy, Head of the Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP, Silavanh.firstname.lastname@example.org