Regional Strategies Case Study
trade. The FTAA never got off the ground and the ‘Aid for Trade’ initiative is now embroiled in debate over what it is or should be. In-Country Processes
Countries often complain about the delays in getting approval for funding from external agencies, but their own processes may sometimes be the cause of delays. For example, an ‘aid for trade’ agreement may be prepared in a timely manner and forwarded to a government agency, but certain “micro-level issues” could serve as hindrances. Typical situations are mentioned below. • • •
a senior person is not available to provide a signature and no provisions are made for an alternate; an agreement is held up in a legal department, sometimes for up to a year, because of a lack of personnel; and internal politics delay decisions about which government department should be the executing agency.
Donor agencies are not normally able to influence the above processes and they may become frustrated in their attempts to provide aid in a timely manner. 3.3. Implementation Issues The implementation of projects carries all kinds of difficulties. Trade projects are no exception and challenges exist both on the donors and recipients side. In the Caribbean, project implementation suffers from a lack of people, skills and modern information systems. Many countries, especially the smaller ones, do not have computerized systems to implement and monitor projects efficiently. Project management skills are also lacking in all countries—irrespective of size. Sometimes a donor may be ready to disburse funds but counterpart staff cannot be found. This could cause delays, which may be compounded by problems such as cumbersome procedures, local politics, and inefficient local staff. Donor agencies usually have competent management teams to implement projects and modern equipment and systems. However, many Caribbean countries complain about two problems: delays in disbursement and complex and burdensome reporting procedures. Each donor agency has its own procedures for drawing down funds from a loan or grant agreement and for reporting. Small Caribbean countries face tremendous hardships, however, when they have to deal with seven or eight different disbursement and reporting procedures. The amount of time, for example, that has to be spent on form-filling is ‘mind-boggling’. When records are not computerized, the task is increased 100-fold. The process for approving and disbursing aid can be quite lengthy. The most difficult one is that of the European Union.
Published on Sep 14, 2007
this report was prepared by the integration and trade sector (int) as a contribution to the regional meeting on mobilizing aid for trade: la...