Implementation Of A Strategy

The work invested in developing an agricultural or rural strategy will be of little value if at least some of its major thrusts are not implemented. On the other hand, it usually is unrealistic to expect full implementation of all of the recommendations in the document. The process of formulating a strategy should itself include preparations for the implementation stage, and for that purpose it is helpful to be aware of the means of policy implementation while designing the policy proposals.

To reiterate what was said at the end of Chapter 2, a strategy is implemented through five different channels, as follows:

• New legislation (the legislative policy channel).

• Administrative decisions and decrees of the executive branch that alter the rules governing the economic environment for agriculture and change institutional structures (the administrative policy channel).

• Allocations of public investment, or capital account funding, some of which may come from external partners in development (the investment channel).

• Allocations of the current account budget of the government (the program channel).

• Voluntary participation in implementation by the private sector and civil society (the nongovernmental channel).

It can be added to that earlier discussion that, after formal endorsement of a strategy, either by the Executive branch or by the Legislature -preferably by both - principal elements of the implementation process also include, in addition to those discussed in Chapter 2:

• Development of a medium-term implementation plan, under the aegis of which the annual implementation plans would be formulated.

• Establishment of an implementation secretariat or some other high-level committee designated as responsible for managing the execution and monitoring of the strategy.

The implementation plans should identify clearly the needed actions in all five implementation channels. The timing of the implementation plans needs to be co-ordinated with the timing of the budgetary cycle. Each implementation plan should contain a legislative action plan, a plan for Executive decrees and administrative actions that fall within the ambit of the Executive branch without budgetary implications, a statement of the requirements of the current budget, an investment plan, and an implementation plan worked out jointly with the representatives of the private sector or civil society regarding agreed actions in the non-governmental sector. The latter, of course, cannot be a binding document but it can help reinforce the coherence of the entire implementation effort.

94. Gustavo Gordillo de Anda, 'Un nuevo trato para el campo', paper delivered at the International Conference on Access to Land: Innovative Agrarian Reforms for Sustainability and Poverty Reduction, Bonn, Germany, May 19-23, 2001, p. 36 [author's translation].

If the investment plans are worked out on a medium-term basis, say for three years, then they can also feed into the programming exercises of international agencies that are supporting the country's development. Adapting their support to the priorities and reforms indicated in a national strategy would require a degree of flexibility on the part of the international development agencies that has not generally been demonstrated so far, but it would give concrete content to the rhetoric of participation. Taking that kind of cooperation one step further, agencies that prefer to make their disbursements conditional on specified reforms could tie them to specific and major steps in the implementation of the country's own national strategy. Even with the best of intentions, an implementation process always encounters many roadblocks along the way, and that kind of conditionality would increase the sense of urgency to overcome the roadblocks. It would be more palatable to the host government and society, and more effective in the longer run, to make it clear that the conditionality is based on the country's own plans rather than on those developed elsewhere.

Concern about the apparent ineffectiveness of traditional conditionality is becoming widespread. Jan Willem Gunning has expressed those doubts, and has proposed a different kind of solution, in the following words:

There is now overwhelming evidence that aid is not effective in bringing about policy reform. I have argued that rather than redesigning the aid contract to make ex ante conditionality more effective, donors should switch to ex post conditionality (selectivity). Under selectivity the allocation of aid is tied to success.95

The solution is not to give up on ex ante con-ditionality, but rather to have the loan and grant conditions designed, in effect, by the host country.

Asking a country to implement its own strategy, as a condition for disbursement, is a means of helping push that implementation process along.

At the same time, such conditionality is likely to find greater receptivity in the developing countries.

One of the keys to timely implementation is a carefully structured implementation monitoring system which requires frequent and rapid reporting to the implementation secretariat of progress and problems in each area. Equally, the secretariat needs to be endowed with powers to take special measures to accelerate the implementation process in areas in which it is found to be lagging - or to recommend such measures to the Cabinet. It can be useful to involve in the implementation monitoring process persons who were involved in designing the policies contained in the strategy, from inside and outside government. They often represent the best expertise in each area and, for that reason, are in a position to recommend modifications of the policies as needed, on the basis of feedback received from the implementation process.

For moving ahead in the legislative channel, usually teams or task forces of lawyers and other technical experts are assembled to draft legislation in the areas where the strategy's recommendations suggest that it is needed. Lawyers and other kinds of experts need to work together closely in this process. Lawyers are experts in legislative technique and therefore can indicate how to achieve specified aims, but it typically is the other technical experts who can indicate what those aims should be. Allowing lawyers to take sole command of the process of drafting legislation has sometimes resulted in outcomes that did not fulfill all of the postulated policy aims. The implementation secretariat is the appropriate body to oversee the labors of a legislative working group and, when the topic warrants it, submit the draft legislation for review by the entire participatory group that developed the strategy.

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