ANSA-EAP facilitates “Workshop on Communication and Participatory Governance” of Mongolian Local Government Officials

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Forty-four governors of aimags (provinces) and soums (municipalities) took part in a three-day face-to-face Workshop on Communication and Participatory Local Governance organized by CommGAP, the East Asia Pacific (EAP) Regional Governance Hub, the World Bank Institute (WBI) and the World Bank-Mongolia country office.

A team composed of Angelita Gregorio-Medel (ANSA EAP), Adelfo Briones (ANSA EAP), Grazia Atanasio (CommGAP), and Marvin Tort (Consultant) traveled to Ulaanbaatar on October 17-22 to conduct/facilitate the workshop. The assistance of the Mongolia Country Office and in particular of Sunjidmaa Jamba (Communication Officer of the WB-Mongolia Country Office) was crucial in organizing the workshop.

The workshop aimed to enable local government officials to effectively engage with their local communities through strategic communication and accountability mechanisms. The course introduced the participants to the fundamentals and value of participatory approaches to budget governance. Specifically, it provided an overview of tools and techniques needed to design communication strategies for engaging in dialogue with citizens towards enhancing citizen participation, and disseminating information for the purposes of obtaining informed, and hence, meaningful participation.

The course intended also to familiarize participants with social accountability mechanisms, with a particular emphasis on participatory budgeting.

In particular, the workshop aimed to achieve the following objectives:

Communication

  • Inform citizens efficiently about the policies, programs, services and initiatives of the local government; • Engage citizens in dialogue via different modes of structures and mechanisms;

Participatory Budgeting

  • Apply hands-on methods to include citizens in budget formulation, decision making, and monitoring of budget execution;

Accountability

  • Use mechanisms for receiving feedback on local governance performance and service provision from citizens.

The workshop was conducted in the context of the agreement to pilot communication support to fiscal reform and decentralization in Mongolia. This pilot project is designed to add value to the communication work that has been done by the WB country team in the past years, especially in the area of policy dialogue and stakeholders’ engagement, to contribute to strengthening and systematizing communication for governance reform in the country, and to support governance reforms in Mongolia in general.

The reform of Mongolia’s fiscal sector became urgent subsequent to the period of economic instability that followed the collapse of commodity prices. The adoption of the Fiscal Stability Law (FSL) in June 2010 represented a key step towards insulating the economy from mineral price fluctuations and towards containing inflation. However, as pressures to increase spending are constant threats to the country’s economic stability, Parliament is expected to adopt a new Integrated Budget Law (IBL) which will lay out a new process of budget management, including improvements in public investment planning, and fiscal decentralization. In the run-up to elections in 2012, the challenge for the country will be to implement and adhere to this two landmark laws.

The objective of the communication pilot is to support the implementation of relevant laws and procedures by a) supporting communication capacity in the Ministry of Finance and local authorities; and b) encouraging a partnership and sustainable multi-stakeholder dialogue for reform and reform communication.

The capacity building component of the pilot seeks to help prepare local and central authorities to the shifting of responsibilities for budget management, allocation and execution that are going to be introduced by the proposed Integrated Budget Law (IBL). Decentralization and local budgeting will be core parts of the new law, which is projected to be legislated in the fall session of Parliament. Local government officials will need to build skills to fulfill their new roles, in particular with regard to communication, community outreach, and participatory governance (especially budgeting).

The first phase of the capacity building effort has been supported by CommGAP through a 3-day training workshop to promote participatory local governance as relevant to the IBL once it is passed. It is expected that the subsequent phases of the capacity building component will be carried out by the EAP Regional Governance Hub, WBI and the Mongolia country office.

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