George Conway, UNDP Country Director a.i, Launch of Central Equatoria State Strategic Plan 2012-15
Your Excellency, the Acting Governor of Central Equatoria State,
Honourable State Minister of Finance and Economic Development,
Honourable State Ministers,
Honourable Secretary General of Central Equatoria State,
Honourable Representatives of the Transitional State Legislative Assembly,
State Government officials,
Representatives of the international development community,
Good morning. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to participate in the launch of the Central Equatoria State Strategic Plan covering the fiscal years 2012/13 to 2014/15. Your Excellency, on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I would like to congratulate you and your government, as well as all those involved, on the successful completion of the State Strategic Plan. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in this process.
Your Excellency, planning is a necessary tool for the development of any a nation. Development planning is critical to building sustainable economies, fostering peaceful communities, and protecting the future for the next generation of South Sudan. A number of countries have shown remarkable success in overcome various development challenges through planning that is clear, focussed and strategic. Countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are also post-conflict countries, achieved greater development for their peoples by employing development planning based on strategic planning practices.
I am pleased that this Plan was produced through an inclusive and participatory process involving all concerned stakeholders. This has included engagement with the six counties of Central Equatoria State, in order to ensure that State Government planning is coherent with local Government Planning, and that the development needs and priorities of communities are more clearly reflected in the plan.
I also note that the Plan is aligned with the Central Government’s South Sudan Development Plan, or SSDP. These measures will help to ensure that the Central Government, State Government and Local Governments are working seamlessly together to address the development challenges of the people and to improve the welfare of the population.
Your Excellency, the document itself highlights the progress made in Central Equatoria State over recent years. Public sector capacity has been strengthened, local revenue collection and fiscal management have been improved, service delivery has begun to expand, and economic growth has been registered. I congratulate your Government for this positive trend.
However, the State Strategic Plan also identifies a number of significant development challenges faced by the people of Central Equatoria State. These include slow economic growth, poor physical infrastructure which limits expansion of basic services, population displacement, inadequate food production, and widespread insecurity.
These challenges facing Central Equatoria State are significant. This requires decision makers in the State to make hard choices and exercise strict fiscal discipline. Resources are scarce and there are many priorities to address. Not everything can or will be done in one or two years. There is a need for clear priorities. This is even more so the case in the current context of austerity in South Sudan.
In this respect, we are pleased that the State Strategic Plan has elaborated a number of major priorities which have already been agreed by key stakeholders. Without pre-empting the presentation that will be made by the Honourable State Minister of Finance, the Plan articulates a number of strategic priorities to address key challenges across the four pillars of governance, economic growth, social development, and security.
We at UNDP are proud of our partnership with the State in the formulation process of this Strategic Plan. Our support to the preparation of this plan has been through our “Support to Development Planning and Public Financial Management Project,” and the Rapid Capacity Placement Initiative, or RCPI, the latter of which has been financially supported by the Government of Canada. These initiatives have deployed UNV specialists who are embedded in various State institutions to support their capacity development, through on-the job coaching and mentoring of Government counterparts in the performance of their duties.
The RCPI has been recently evaluated, and we are pleased to report the evaluation was overall very positive. Notable progress was recognized particularly in terms of the programme’s contributions to the achievement of results in the areas of: improved evidence-based planning and budgeting; increased accountability through consistent production of budget execution reports; increased local revenue collection through strengthened State Revenue authorities; and improved communications within and between different levels of Government.
I would like to stress that the launch of this State Strategic Plan is now the beginning of what will be a long and challenging path to meet the development needs and expectations of the people of Central Equatoria State.
In addition to the support we have provided specifically to the preparation of the State Strategic Plan, UNDP is committed to continuing to deliver longer-term support to Central Equatoria State across all four priority pillars of the Plan itself. We will continue to support the State Government to strengthen public sector capacity and financial management, to promote inclusive and equitable growth, to expand access to basic services, and to improve access to justice and rule of law.
In conclusion, I once again congratulate the State Government for this milestone achievement of launching this plan. I hope it will effectively serve as a compass in directing the policies, programmes, and resource allocation of the State over the next years, and we look forward to supporting your Government in its implementation. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Canada for our partnership which has enabled this support to take place, and we hope that we will continue in this partnership to provide such essential support to the State Governments across South Sudan.
Thank you very much.