There were both flashbacks and optimism at the plenary meeting of the Local Consultative Group this week at the NEC Conference Room in the capital. The coordinating body of the Government of Bangladesh and its Development Partners during its last congregation of the year 2013, was met with intense reflection on the past and thoughtful outlook for the future. And the mood was best caught in the words of the chief guest Mr. A M A Muhith, the GoB Finance Minister.
“I had the pleasure of attending this plenary through all these years since its inception and over the time has changed its focus from mere collective dialogue to a plethora of development agenda”, the Finance Minister said during the deliberation at the LCG meet on Monday, November 11.
Mr. Muhith’s words were a testimony to how the Local Consultative Group or LCG, since its inception in 1975, has evolved from mostly a donor-only dialogue platform to an all-encompassing coordinating entity between the Bangladesh Government and its Development Partners.
There were some notes for the future as well in the speech of the Finance Minister, as he said, “There should be more of donor coordination sector wise--- and this makes planning much more comfortable for both of us and which seems to yield good results”.
This was the third time this year that the Plenary of the Local Consultative Group assembled together. Along with the Finance Minister, the meeting was also attended by the Minister for Planning Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Mr. A K Khandher, BirUttom MP as special guest while being chaired by the Secretary to the Economic Relations Division Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad. UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mr. Neal Walker who is also the LCG Plenary co-chair also attended the meeting.
UNDP Country Director Ms. Pauline Tamesis and heads and representatives of various UN agencies, diplomatic missions and other bilateral and multilateral development partners working in Bangladesh were present in the meeting.
Mr. Muhith in his speech also highlighted various accomplishment of the present government in the socioeconomic arena during the last five years. He pointed out the success in maintaining stable economic growth, increasing energy generation, food production and central bank reserve while also expanding the export market during a time of global economic meltdown.
“Bangladesh is one of the few developing countries that have sustained an economic growth rate in excess of 6 percent for quite a long time. As a result, it has achieved remarkable progress in various development parameters”, Minister for Planning Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Mr. A K Khandher said in his speech.
“This meeting is a good opportunity for both of us to discuss with the development partners our sincere and continuous effort for effective development results in many different fronts and circumstances”, the ERD Secretary Mr. Md. A K Azad said during the meeting, adding “We need to work with our partners in ensuring that our cooperation is based on mutual trust, accountability and towards a better future for the country and its people”.
The same view was shared by the UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Neal Walker, as he said, “I would like to take this opportunity to express the sincere appreciation of the Development Partners to the Government for their efforts and collaboration in making the LCG Mechanism and LCG Plenaries a true forum for collective dialogue on development cooperation”.
“The Development Partners working in Bangladesh share, with all Bangladeshis, the very highest aspirations for equitable, sustainable development. Please count on our continued support towards these objectives”, he added.
During the meeting, there were also presentations on “Maintaining Momentum in Development Cooperation’’ by Additional Secretary of ERD Mr. Arastoo Khan and “Updates on streamlining of TPP/DPP process” by Mr. Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam, Secretary to the Planning Division.
The meeting participants also discussed the major areas of development concern for the future and the ways of strengthening mutual cooperation.
This was the third time this year that the Plenary of the Local Consultative Group sat together to review development issues. The last meeting of the LCG Plenary took place on June 30th of this year.
Since its inception, the LCG has gone through an evolutionary process that considerably enhanced its scope and significance. It currently functions as the main forum for local aid coordination and policy dialogue between the Government and the Development Partners in Bangladesh.
The multi donor funded Aid Effectiveness Project is providing its continuous support in strengthening the LCG mechanism in the country as a core component of its activities.
The LCG Plenary members are the GoB and their DP counterparts. The plenary is usually co-chaired by the Secretary, ERD and chair of the LCG ExCom, currently the UN Resident Coordinator.
In order to facilitate in-depth dialogue and collaboration on specific sectors or thematic areas, 18 LCG Working Groups are in operation. These working Groups are co-chaired by the DPs and GoB and they are designed to contribute towards effective and coordinated implementation of national policies, strategies, plans and programs.
LCG Plenary meets as and when needed, usually initiated by donors, to review progress on development issues.
Apart from the strengthening of the LCG mechanism, the Aid Effectiveness Project is working for establishing an Aid Information Management System (AIMS), Capacity enhancement for aid management of the Economic Relations Division and line ministries while also working for formulating a National Aid Policy.
Since, its inception in Late 2011, the project has been able to initiate the background work for enhancing the aid management capacities of ERD & for strengthening GoB-DPs dialogue mechanism.