25.    As the next steps, the Rome Declaration encouraged partner/recipient countries to design country-based action plans for harmonization, agreed with the donor community that set out clear and monitor able proposals to harmonize development assistance using the proposals of the OECD/DAC Task Force and the MDB technical working groups as reference points. In turn, the bilateral and multilateral agencies agreed to take actions to support harmonization at the country level.

26.     The formulation of Royal Government's Action Plan to move forward on the implementation of Rome Declaration's commitments to harmonize the practices of the development partners has been a high priority of the Royal Government. With assistance from the UNDP and the World Bank, the Action Plan has been prepared after extensive consultations and collaboration between Government and development partners and with government ministries and agencies over the last year. This process of consultations began at the first workshop held in January 2004 to examine and sensitize Government and donor representatives to the harmonization and alignment issues. Following this workshop, the Royal Government prepared a zero draft of the action plan on harmonization and alignment that was discussed and reviewed by representatives of government institutions and development partners at a second workshop held in June 2004 in Siem Reap. The revised draft incorporating the feedback from the second workshop was discussed and reviewed by an inter-ministerial group at a workshop held in Sihanoukville in August 2004. The draft incorporating changes recommended at the inter-ministerial workshop was discussed and approved at the fourth and final workshop held at CDC on 26-27 October 2004. This workshop was attended by both Government and donor representatives. The final Royal Government’s Action Plan on Harmonization and Alignment that incorporates the outcome of the discussions at the fourth workshop was endorsed by the Council of Ministers on 19 November 2004. It is presented as Annex I. An important element of this Action Plan is Royal Government's commitment to prepare a single National Strategic Development Plan for the years 2006-2010 that will serve as the framework for alignment of all ODA supported activities.

27.     In terms of the management of the implementation of the Action Plan, the Royal Government would like: (i) the Partnership Working Group to continue to provide the overall direction; and (ii) the newly restructured sectoral/thematic Joint Technical Working Groups to take the responsibility for the day to day operational management of the implementation of the activities in the Action Plan and for monitoring progress in their areas.

28.     The Royal Government recognizes that achieving full harmonization is a long-term process and in some areas may be difficult in the short-term. It has, therefore, adopted a gradual approach with an immediate focus on areas where some concrete steps can be taken in the short-term that would increase the national ownership of the development cooperation activities, lessen the burden on implementing agencies, and minimize the unintended adverse effects of some donor practices, notably those related to capacity development.

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