Web Desk March 15, 2021

The Rules are not at a level that will create a qualitative change in the design and implementation of government programs.

 

On March 6, by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Rules for the Development, Implementation, Monitoring, and Evaluation of State Programs were approved. I must note that for many years, there have been opinions in the media about the superficial and unprofessional preparation of the adopted state programs and the lack of monitoring of the implementation of the adopted programs. State programs have been adopted for sub-sectors such as cotton, tobacco, cocoons, etc., which have already lost their strategic importance for the country, and a large amount of state funds have been spent from the state budget for the development of these areas.

 

Although small goals such as increasing the production of meat to 340,000 tons, milk and dairy products to 2.4 million tons, potatoes to 1.12 million tons, tea leaf to 3,000 tons, high-quality and balanced mixed fodder to 2 million tons per year, and the sown area of oilseeds to 135,000 hectares, sugar beet to 20,000 hectares, fodder crops to 500,000 hectares have been set in the State Program on Reliable Food Supply of the Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2008-2015, adopted in 2008, the goals have not been achieved.

 

In the action plan of the Strategic Roadmap on Production and Processing of Agricultural Products in the Republic of Azerbaijan, in 2017-2018, it was planned to reduce the number of cattle by 10 percent, increase milk productivity by 50 percent, increase meat production by 20 percent, and milk production by 30 percent thanks to the intensive farm model. The document aimed to increase meat production by 20 percent and milk production by 30 percent by 2020 (compared to 2015) as one of the main goals of the measures envisaged in the agricultural production and processing sector. However, these goals set for 2020 have not been achieved.

 

On the other hand, in the state programs adopted so far, government bodies, ministries, committees, joint-stock companies, the shares of which are owned by the state, have outlined in their action plans the tasks directly related to their powers and the work they have to do on a daily basis, such as the work to be done in the future in the state program. For such reasons, there was a need to establish norms and rules for the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of state programs. The newly adopted document consists of paragraphs such as general provisions, development and approval of the state program, implementation of the state program, and monitoring and evaluation of the state program. The summary of these paragraphs is as follows:

 

  1. General provisions

 

The Rules adopted (in accordance with Paragraph 1.2 of the Rules) are a document regulating the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of state programs, strategies, national action plans, concepts, and other documents. Moreover, Paragraph 1.3 of the Rules defines the state program: “The state program is a strategic planning document that ensures the achievement of priorities and goals of state policy in the field of socio-economic development of the country, consists of a set of measures coordinated with each other in terms of tasks, deadlines, executors, and resources.” According to Paragraph 1.4 of the Rules, duties directly related to the powers of government bodies, legal entities that are state-owned and whose controlling stake is owned by the state, and public legal entities established on behalf of the state cannot be defined as a measure in the state program.

 

  1. Development and approval of the state program

 

According to Paragraph 2.1 of the Rules, development of the state program envisages the process of drafting the relevant state program on the basis of the main directions and priorities of socio-economic development of the country, as well as technically and economically justified proposals of the relevant state bodies in accordance with their strategic plans. According to Paragraph 2.3 of the Rules, during the development of the draft state program, consultations should be held with relevant government bodies (institutions), as well as public hearings and discussions of the state program in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Public Participation. According to Paragraph 2.4 of the Rules, the structure of the state program consists of 8 sections;

 

brief summary – a description of important issues mentioned in the program;

 

global trends – directions observed in the field related to the program, description of expected changes in this field and their effects;

 

analysis of the current situation – brief information on the current situation and the work done in the field covered by the program, a general description of the issues necessary for the development of the program, the analysis conducted, and the results obtained;

 

target indicators – indicators identified as the basis for achievement for the period covered by the program;

 

goals – a description of the goals set to achieve the targets set for the program;

 

priorities – a description of concrete measures to be implemented to achieve the goals, results to be achieved, required resources;

 

financing mechanisms – a description of the amount of funds allocated to achieve the objectives of the program and the sources of funding;

 

action plan – a description of the plan outlining the executors and deadlines for each of the activities identified under the program, as well as the expected outcome and outcome indicators for each priority area.

 

According to Paragraph 2.5 of the Rules, during the development of the state program in accordance with Paragraph 2.4.3 of the Rules, it is recommended to use methods such as competitive advantage, demand market analysis, diagnostic SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis while analyzing the current situation. According to Paragraph 2.13 of the Rules, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, representatives of the public and private sectors, independent experts, and other stakeholders may be involved in the process of drafting the state program.

 

  1. Implementation of the state program

 

Paragraph 3.1 of the Rules states that the implementation of the state program is the full and timely implementation of the measures envisaged in the state program at the expense of the financial sources provided for in that program. According to Paragraph 3.3 of the Rules, in order to effectively organize the implementation of the state program, a working group consisting of representatives of the main and other executive bodies of the activities provided for in the program is established under the leadership of the coordinating body. The working group meets at least once a year and exchanges views on key issues in the implementation process. Annual reports on the status and results of the implementation of the measures envisaged in the state program are prepared by the relevant government bodies (institutions), they are submitted to the coordinating body (institution) together with supporting documents by January 20 of each year, and the coordinating body summarizes the information and submits the report to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

  1. Monitoring and evaluation of the state program

 

According to Paragraph 4.1 of the Rules, the monitoring and evaluation body that will monitor and evaluate the state program shall be determined at the time of approval of the state program. According to Paragraph 4.2 of the Rules, local or international experts may be involved in the process of monitoring and evaluation of the state program.

 

According to Pa ragraph 4.9 of the Rules, checking the expenditure of funds allocated from the state budget for the implementation of the program in accordance with the purpose of state financial control, as well as the implementation of state control measures by the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan within the framework of control over the implementation of the legislation and ensuring the execution discipline, and the assessment of the activities of executive authorities and government bodies and the effectiveness of projects implemented by them are not excluded.

 

4.15. The report on the final evaluation of the state program shall be published on the official website of the monitoring and evaluation body (institution), as well as the coordinating body (institution) within one month after its submission to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

Strengths of the document:

 

According to Paragraph 1.4 of the Rules, duties directly related to the powers of government bodies, legal entities that are state-owned and whose controlling stake is owned by the state, and public legal entities established on behalf of the state cannot be defined as a measure in the state program.

 

According to Paragraph 2.3 of the Rules, during the development of the draft state program, consultations should be held with relevant government bodies (institutions), as well as public hearings and discussions of the state program in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Public Participation.

 

Weaknesses of the document:

 

In the Rules, the unequivocal lack of participation of public representatives, independent experts, and specialists in the process of developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating state programs should be assessed as a weak point and a very serious shortcoming of the prepared document.

 

Although Paragraph 1.3 of the Rules considers the state program to be a strategic planning document, according to Paragraph 1.2 of the Rules, the state program shall be prepared in the same manner as other documents (strategies, national action plans, concepts). This means that according to Paragraph 2.1 of the Rules, draft state programs can be developed and adopted on the basis of technically and economically justified proposals in accordance with the strategic plans of government bodies (which are not of strategic importance to the state. V.M.). Experience shows that the specifics of the agricultural sector were not taken into account when adopting state programs for individual sub-sectors. For example, the development of livestock goes through the development of crop production (grain, fodder). Or it is very important to create a crop rotation system to increase the productivity of annual crops. This requires a comprehensive approach to the issue. Such that the development of grain growing is possible within the same state program as the development of vegetables, fodder crops, cotton, and other industries. From this point of view, the essence of the strategic planning document is not disclosed in the Rules.

 

According to Paragraph 2.4.3 of the Rules, the program envisages brief information on the current situation in the country and the work done in the field covered by the state program. The Rules do not specify the exact amount of (brief) information that will be included in the program on the current situation and the work done. For example, while the State Program on Reliable Food Supply in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2008-2015 consists of 25 pages, 12 pages of the document are devoted to the current situation in the area covered by the state program and the work done before the adoption of the program. The Rules should specify the exact amount of information (relative to the volume of the general state program) on the current situation and the work done in the state programs.

 

According to Paragraph 2.13 of the Rules, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, representatives of the public and private sectors, independent experts, and other stakeholders may be involved in the process of drafting the state program. The phrase “international organizations, non-governmental organizations, public and private sector representatives, independent experts, and other stakeholders may be involved in the process of drafting the program” also means that they may or may not be involved. This means that, as a rule, the participation of independent experts, non-governmental organizations, and private sector representatives is not planned in the process of drafting the state program.

 

According to Paragraph 4.1 of the Rules, the monitoring and evaluation body (institution) that will monitor and evaluate the state program shall be determined at the time of approval of the state program. However, the composition and members of the body are not specified.

 

According to Paragraph 4.2 of the Rules, local or international experts may be involved in the process of monitoring and evaluation of the state program. However, the provision in this paragraph of the Rules is also ambiguous. The involvement of public representatives and independent experts in the process of monitoring and evaluation of the state program financed from the state budget is not specified in a concrete and unambiguous manner.

 

It should be noted the targets indicators in the Rules, which are expected to be achieved in the state program, are significantly higher than the indicators that existed before the adoption of the program. As an example, in the State Program on Livestock Development and Efficient Use of Pasture Areas in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2019-2023, target indicators, which are planned to be achieved in 10 years in perspective, are projected to be 2 times less than the growth rate for the previous 10 years.

 

Thus, the Rules adopted are not at a level that will create a significant qualitative change in the process of developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating state programs. Although the purpose of the Rules is to improve the process of developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating state programs, the lack of participation of public representatives, independent experts, and specialists in the process will not increase the responsibility of officials responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating state programs.

 

Source: Turan News Agency

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