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Speeches & Transcripts October 22, 2019

Opening Remarks: Cambodia National Action Plan for Public Administration Reform 2019 - 2030

Excellency Pech Bunthin Excellencies, colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning!

It is an honor to be with you all this morning at the launch of the Cambodian National Action Plan for Public Administration Reform 2019—2030, a plan that aims to improve public service delivery by instilling a citizen-centric approach.

Let me begin by commending the Royal Government of Cambodia, and especially the Ministry of Civil Service, for its commitment to public administration reform. The new National Program for Public Administration Reform will set the stage for a second phase of even more ambitious reforms to be achieved by 2030.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen,

Public services work best when they are inclusive: when girls are encouraged to go to school, when pupils and parents participate in the schooling process, when communities take charge of sanitation management. They work when societies can curtail corruption to ensure that the finite resources of the state and of citizens are invested in improving the lives of Cambodians, through – for example - quality education and healthcare. Public services work when they are part of a coordinated and holistic vision for the development of the country —recognizing that a mother’s education will help her baby’s health, that building a road or a bridge will enable children to go to school and vendors to get their goods to markets. Optimizing public service provision is thus a complex - but absolutely critical - part of Cambodia’s development trajectory.

Citizens expectations of government and public service delivery are changing rapidly across the world. Citizens today expect more transparent, more accessible and more responsive public services. Services such as birth registration, national identity card, paying taxes, getting a drivers’ license and registering your car are often the most direct interactions that a citizen has with their government. Public services are, therefore, critical in shaping trust in government.

Yet many governments across the world have found it difficult to meet the evolving expectations of citizens. Part of the challenge is that, despite best intentions, the design and delivery of services has tended to be driven by public administrations with little consideration of the needs and perspectives of citizens. There are significant opportunities available for governments that choose to adopt a citizen-centric approach to both enhance citizen satisfaction and reduce service delivery costs. This transformation can begin with understanding citizens’ needs and priorities.

Many governments are now embracing a more collaborative relationship with citizens including obtaining real-time feedback on what citizens need and want. Delivering citizen-centric public services requires, not only a better understanding of service needs from a citizen perspective, but institutional capability to adapt and innovate, leveraging advances in technology to provide services faster, better and more cheaply.

This consultative workshop has two objectives. First, it is an opportunity for the World Bank to share knowledge and good practices on performance-based, citizen-focused administrative practices and innovative solutions for improving public service delivery. While it is important to understand and learn about contemporary international approaches to strengthening public service delivery, it is vital that this knowledge is then grounded in the reality of the Cambodian context and tailored to suit the unique challenges that Cambodia is facing.

Accordingly, the second objective of today’s workshop is  to gather feedback from key stakeholders on the proposed NPAR and receive input for the development of the National Action Plan that aligns with guiding framework of the NPAR and lays out a concrete reform agenda for the next decade.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen,

The World Bank Board has just endorsed the Country Partnership Framework for Cambodia (CPF). The CPF focuses on promoting state efficiency and boosting private sector development, fostering human development, improving agricultural productivity and strengthening the sustainable use of natural resources.  Governance, institutions and citizen engagement constitute a cross-cutting theme. This means that all World Bank Group activities under the CPF will be geared towards  enhancing transparency and accountability, improving public service delivery and providing a supportive business climate. Our support for the public administration reform agenda is central to this focus.

I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank our development partners, particularly the EU and Australia for providing financial support to the reform program. Together, we remain committed to collaborating and supporting the Government with public administration reform.

Let me end by highlighting that I think it is very encouraging that the Ministry of Civil Services  has engaged an inclusive process for the development of the NPAR. This is an important step in ensuring broad buy-in and commitment from government stakeholders that will ultimately be responsible for implementing the National Action Plan. Therefore, I encourage you to take this opportunity to participate actively in and contribute to the discussions on how to ensure that the next National Action Plan for Public Administration can successfully support the reform agenda. I wish you a productive and fruitful workshop.

Thank you.