APR Session: Improving Financial Management

Fourteen participants attended this mini-workshop session led by Mr. Shankar Kutty, IFAD. Participants included one CPM (Ms. Atsuko Toda), one CPO (Seth, Cambodia). The remaining were project staff. The mini-workshop was divided into two parts: (1) Improving financial management; and, (2) Coping with procurement challenges. Participants from four tables were brought into table to ensure high level of interaction and discussion. Atsuko Toda facilitated the discussion and also worked as a note-taker for the group.

Part I: Improving financial management
The presentation and the discussion revolved around the four main areas: AWPB credibility, predictability and control; comprehensiveness and transparency in procurement; adherence to provisions of financing agreement, guidelines and policies of IFAD; accounting recording and reporting and scrutiny; and, external control.

While participants were expressing their views on any specific issues, the influence of their country rules and regulations was very visible. The discussion was centered on the following questions:

AWPB: Is the AWPB realistic, and implemented as intended? Are the control and stewardship exercised in the use of public/project funds?

Procurement: Do the PIM and Procurement Guidelines provide adequate guidance to all implementing partners clarifying the roles of each actor? Is there effective monitoring of the contract/agreements and the implementation of the contract/agreements. How are these partnerships managed? Does the Project have adequate mechanisms to assess risks?

Financing Agreement, Guidelines and Policies of IFAD: Do Project staff and implementing partners understand the provision of the Financing Agreements, Subsidiary Agreement, Guidelines and Policies of the IFAD? How the Project ensures effective compliances? Are there any grey areas? If yes, what are the mechanisms in place to address?

Accounting, Recording and Reporting: Are adequate records and information produced, maintained and disseminated to facilitate decision-making, control, management and reporting? What type of information is helpful for the management for decision-making? What type of action is required to update and establish controls with the information?

External Scrutiny and Audit: Does the Project Audits adequately cover relevant area as outlined in the scope of work? Should management audit be started in IFAD funded projects? Should auditor scope of work be tailored to specifically address relevant areas of concerns?

Part II: Coping with procurement challenges

The following basic procurement cycle was presented and discussed in the group.
  • Originating a purchase
  • Selecting a supplier
  • Ordering, Receiving and accepting goods and services
  • Receiving the invoice and making payment
  • Post Contract Control

A discussion on Risk Management concluded that there exist three types of risks under each project. They include:
  1. Strategic Risk – long-term adverse impacts from poor decision-making or poor implementation.
  2. Programme Risk – failure to comply with procurement legislation, or internal procedures (the procurement code of practice or contract procedure rules) or the lack of documentation to prove compliance (i.e. a clear audit trail).
  3. Project or Operational Risk – poor contract management, inadequate terms and conditions, failure to deliver services effectively & on time, malfunctioning equipment, hazards to service users, the general public or staff, or damage to property.