January 2010 - The World Bank has recently organized three fiduciary capacity-enhancement and implementation support workshops for the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Jordan portfolios in Beirut and Amman between November 29 and December 5, 2010.
Over 110 financial officers, accountants, internal controllers, project managers and government officials from different line ministries and project implementing units participated in these workshops. Some external audit and fiduciary monitoring agents also took part in the workshops.
The workshops aimed at familiarizing participants with the latest developments in financial management, disbursement and procurement related to portfolio support and risk management, while addressing current portfolio implementation and performance issues. The workshops also introduced participants to the Bank’s recently approved Access to Information Policy, as well as the e-disbursement initiative. The workshops agenda also covered the designated accounts management and strengthened controls arrangements. The role of the Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity was also overviewed with an emphasis on its scope of work and its usual findings in the context of governance and anti-corruption at the project level. The workshops finally provided participants with an overview of the Fundamentals of International Funds Transfer.
Presentations were delivered both face-to-face as well as via video-conferencing. Discussions were interactive and sessions included participants-led group work, and project-based individual meetings with real case studies. Presentations and discussions were delivered in either Arabic or English with simultaneous interpretation.
Mr. Bilal Nasser, Financial Officer at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon said “The workshop provided us with the opportunity to meet the financial officers of various World Bank supported projects and discuss common challenges and issues we face”.
The workshops provided the opportunity for in-depth discussion of current portfolios’ implementation issues and reaching agreement on solutions with concrete time-bound action plans. The workshops also allowed updating the status of portfolios cross -cutting issues to feed into coming Country Portfolio Performance reviews. Finally, e-disbursement tokens were distributed to authorized officials to facilitate the disbursement procedures and modalities.
Ms. Asia Jawad, Financial Officer at the Ministry of Water Resources in Iraq said “The workshop was very beneficial in providing us with an overview of new World Bank initiatives and means of incorporating governance and anti-corruption measures in financial management arrangements.”
The workshops allowed staff from various agencies and countries to meet each other. This will eventually facilitate the communication and knowledge-sharing between projects in any country, but also across countries in the region, with the support of bank staff. Participating staff went away with additional knowledge and tools to enhance their performance and thus help improve the financial management performance and compliance rates, reduce project’s financial management risks and increase the efficiency in the flow of funds arrangements and disbursement rates.