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Benchmark News

Over the last two years we have won projects in PNG, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and continued working in the Republic of Maldives. The details of these projects have been included in our project sheets and provide some summaries of the conditions in these countries.

Whilst PNG is considered as a difficult place in which to work and leave I found it to be completely livable and nice place to work. The staff at the Civil Aviation Authority where my office was located tried hard and were very friendly. I mainly worked with two young graduates: Karen and Rodney on the Civil Aviation Development Investment Program analysis funded by ADB (Asian Development Bank). This was focused on reviewing the needs to upgrading around 25 airports in PNG. The role of airports and the whole of the civil aviation is critical in PNG to (i) support the social and economic development of the country by providing safe, efficient, reliable, sustainable and affordable aviation services and infrastructure, (ii) facilitate access to the country and improved mobility for communities, and (iii) meet important community service obligations to provide access to non-commercial destinations.

Since the completion of the Investment Program, the project has gone to implementation in 2010 where selected airports will be renovated through runway extensions, airport building improvements and fencing to improve security, minimise damage to the infrastructure by people and wild and domestic animals.

After finishing the work in Maldives related Tsunami and the Government’s financial management, we won a project referred to as Enhancing Internal Audit in Maldives. For checking, the public sector in Maldives relied on the traditional method inspections by staff allocated to most Ministries and large departments. Our job was to establish Internal Audit Division based in Ministry of Finance and Treasury where the core staff trained by us will then train new staff and the inspection staff in internal audit skills. The project took much longer than anticipated and was only completed in August 2010. The delays occurred mainly because during the election in 2008, the President changed for the first time in 33 years. New parties won power and it took them a long time to change from been in opposition and in learning how to govern. The key objective of establishing the Internal Audit Division and training staff was achieved. Currently the ADB has secured additional funds to fund another internal audit project. Proposals from short-listed firms have been submitted and are currently been evaluated by ADB. We trust who ever wins the next component of the work will continue with the basis established by us over the last two years.

The next two projects resulted in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Central Asian Republics, the route of the old Silk Road. Both countries have huge histories of trade, war, piece, occupation and independence! Prior to my return here in August 2009, I was last in the region in 1993, shortly after Uzbekistan’s Independence on 8 December 1992. Tashkent has transformed to a cosmopolitan city from one that was totally Soviet Union style in 1993.

The projects in these countries focused on public sector financial management. In Tajikistan there was a need to prepare a Strategic Management Plan that included the need for treasury systems, proposed institutional arrangements and staff training. This will be used as the basis of strengthening the Treasury Division within Ministry of Finance. Uzbekistan’s project is on the procurement of GFMIS (Government Financial Management Information System). The requirements for the system have been developed over the last 5-6 years and were used as the basis for the request for proposals. The request for proposal was advertised in international media and attracted major suppliers in this sector. When procured the system will be implemented over the whole of the government and will significantly impact on the allocation of the financial resources to the country’s continued development. The impact will also be as big on the changes to the style of management and the document flow within the government institutions.

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