The Undersecretariat of Treasury, the Undersecretariat of the State Planning Organization, Turkish Government officials from various Ministries and Agencies, and the World Bank’s Turkey Country Office met on November 6, 2007 to review the key findings of the annual Joint Portfolio Performance Review (JPPR) The annual JPPR is the result of a continuous dialogue among all key stakeholders in Turkey and the World Bank.
Overall assessment: The JPPR wrap-up confirmed the strong Government/World Bank partnership at the highest levels, and a mutual willingness to strengthen it further, as explicitly stated by Mr. Canakci. Looking forward, a more strategically-focused program building, taking advantage of Bank's new pricing and innovative instruments, was confirmed. Ongoing CPS discussions are being used to firm up the FY08-11 program. The key aspects highlighted during the meeting, and relative proposed actions, are summarized as follows:
Ownership: The success of projects/programs depends much on "ownership." Ownership should be built through project proposals prepared by the line agencies, based on their own assessment of priorities and issues, and through the participation of all stakeholders. The Bank's expertise and experience in other countries will be used to support the agencies' initiative.
Simplification: The need for simplification of project design was another point made by many participants. This should be a joint effort of line agencies, the Bank, Treasury and SPO. In this framework, sector-focused programs, rather than overly ambitious, multi-agency projects could provide for more strategic, outcome-focused results.
Flexibility: The need for flexibility in designing and implementing programs/projects for a high-capacity MIC country like Turkey was emphasized. Looking forward, we identified the following actions for improvement:
- Limit linkages between investment operations and legislative reforms, with the latter to be preferably supported through development lending
- Increase flexibility by: a) maximizing the use of innovative instruments and approaches as they fit Turkey's priorities (output and performance-based disbursements, SWAps, APLs, DDO, CatBonds, additional financing, easier restructuring); b) taking advantage of increasingly competitive financial terms; c) reviewing/harmonizing Government and Bank requirements (such as feasibility studies) to speed up preparation and limit bottlenecks.
However, an appropriate balance between flexibility and up-front agreement of project design would need to be carefully assessed by all involved stakeholders.
Capacity building: Development of institutional capacity within line agencies is a main common goal. It was, however, acknowledged that retaining capable and experienced staff in public agencies remains a challenge, due to the levels of civil servants' salary. The broader issue of staff retention and long-term knowledge transfer within line agencies is ultimately an area under the Government's sphere of influence. The Bank is, however, ready to provide all the required support for capacity building in specific areas, including Fiduciary, M&E and project management. Efforts should also be made to limit the use of consultants as part of PIUs.
M& E: M&E capacity needs to be strengthened within line agencies themselves, and to focus more on outcomes and impact on the ground. The Bank has good expertise on M& E and is ready to provide support to the agencies in this regard.
Implementation arrangement: Learning from previous experiences, it was noted that project implementation timeframes and assessment of local capacity levels could be improved. This could reduce the need for extensions and/or amendments. The Bank, together with the line agencies, Treasury and SPO, will strive to more carefully assess local conditions and to reflect them in more realistic implementation periods.