Brief Overview of Development Finance in the Asia-Pacific Region
By Rolando G. Tungpalan, Undersecretary for Investment Programming, National Economic and Development Authority
Government of the Philippines
The Asia-Pacific region has a strong history of collaboration via regional mechanisms to strengthen institutions that support and are supported by effective development cooperation. For instance, countries within the Pacific Islands Forum have committed to a peer review of country systems, as well as expenditure and accountability assessments, to ensure greater progress in MDG completion and guarantee that development outcomes are tracked, planned, budgeted, and monitored.
Given this focused regional atmosphere, Asia-Pacific countries are positioned to continue to contribute to development financing and the post-2015 development agenda, particularly in terms of providing linkages between on the ground realities and global policy dialogue. In preparation for the Third Global Conference on Development Financing, over 120 delegates from 24 countries including representatives of government, civil society, the private sector, came together in Manila in March to work together to strengthen connections between effective development cooperation and the Financing for Development agenda in the Asia-Pacific.
By focusing on the “how” of achieving the Busan Principles and the eventual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in Manila, Asia-Pacific leaders worked together to reinforce the importance of strong, transparent, and integrated national systems to enhance the planning and budgeting of all finance flows for better development results.
The regional meeting provided the following six key recommendations for strengthening the use of country systems:
- National development priorities should continue to guide international development flows. As maintained by the Busan Principles, country-led development means that cooperation must support country goals.
- The use (and strengthening) of country systems is essential to financing the means of implementation for the SDGs: country systems lead to country-led development.
- Civil society, the private sector, and all development partners must be at the table to support Integrated National Financing Framework at the country level.
- Open and transparent data at the country level must inform decisions within Integrated National Financing Frameworks. Using such data in decision-making will limit inefficiencies that create further challenges to developing countries.
- Countries must also be accountable for monitoring of financing for SDG implementation. The linkage must be made to the national processes, with regional and global processes leading the post-2015 dialogue.
- South-South Cooperation should guide partnership within the Integrated National Financing Frameworks so as to take full advantage of the myriad of economic, social, technical, and other knowledge resources from Southern countries.
The Philippines: Strengthening Ties Between Effective Development Cooperation (EDC) and the Financing for Development (FfD)
The Philippine country context provides an important input to regional dialogue surrounding the changing nature of development finance. National reforms in the Philippines have resulted in stronger links between development planning, budgeting, and institutional frameworks to mobilize more effective uses of development finance, the effect of which is evident in increases in domestic revenue as well as declining reliance on external borrowing and ODA. In addition, ongoing reforms undertaken by the Philippines have resulted in a stronger link between the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and the development budget, and a robust institutional framework to mobilize and more effectively use diverse flows of development finance.
To this end, a Development Finance and Aid Assessment (DFAA) was commissioned by the Government of the Philippines through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to take stock of current development finance, and its successes and lessons learned.
The study’s outcomes found an increasing reliance on DRM and more efficient financial markets as important sources of development financing in the future. The DFAA also suggests that the Philippine government will be able to meet and perhaps surpass its fiscal deficit targets if it continues with the pace of fiscal reforms. Reliance on external borrowings and ODA are expected to continue to decline and Public-Private Partnerships and foreign direct investment could become significant sources of development finance if the country succeeds in addressing regulatory and political risks.
Overall, the country has a strong outlook for development financing with several key issue areas of focus moving forward, including areas linked to the Busan Principles of country ownership, accountability, and focus on partnerships and results. Areas for future consideration include:
- • Ensuring government ownership and accountability to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and using the PDP as a platform for better coordination of various donor CASs (Country Assistance Strategies);
- • Improving the quality of the PDP with the increased use of evidence-based recommendations in selecting and prioritizing policies and interventions;
- • Increasing dialogue with donors to examine how their CAS contributes to the Philippines’ own national development priorities and formulating a development cooperation strategy to identify further synergies between government and donor development initiatives;
- • Promoting discussion around improving the role of bilateral and multilateral donors in the provision of key public goods such as disaster prevention, post-disaster rehabilitation, and post-conflict transition;
- • Intensifying the use of ODA as a catalyst for attracting private capital to finance certain public goods; and
- • Providing the NEDA Monitoring and Evaluation Staff with technical training from institutions and various other Southern countries to further build in-house monitoring and evaluation capacity.
These focus areas lend further support to the recommendations made at the Manila Regional Meeting that the principles of Effective Development Cooperation remain relevant as supporters of development financing and sustainability as articulated in the post-2015 agenda.
Mr. Rolando G. Tungpalan is the Undersecretary for Investment Programming of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Government of the Philippines. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) and the Asia-Pacific Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (APCOP).