The Second Quarterly Member Meeting

The Second Quarterly Member Meeting of the NGOF this year was organized by Webinar/Online. The meeting was held on the full morning of the 13th May 2021 facilitated by The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) participated by 94 participants. The general objective of the meeting is to share information to member organizations and discuss solutions, to the emerging issues that arisen, to contribute to the development of Cambodia with the Royal Government following the National Development Plan 2019-2023 and the Framework for Sustainable Development in Cambodia 2016 – 2030. Key Speakers were from important relevant government ministries, joint programs, and United Nations like Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to Cambodia.

Mr. Om Savath, Member of Management Committee of the NGOF and Executive Director of FACT: delivered his Opening Speech
He began by welcoming all participants, Excellency, friends, Ladies and Gentlemen to the Webinar. Having introduced himself to the workshop, Mr. Savath emphasized key important points of the event as following:
• We are proud to have key speakers: his and her Excellency representatives from Ministry of Planning (MOP) and Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), NCDD, OHCHR, and NGOF.
• The event is objectively to share and update each other progresses made during the past quarter and to agree on next steps. He emphasized that NGOF has conducted the QMM regularly even though from face-to-face meeting to online meeting because of the Covid-19 pandemic disease. In this regard, NGOF has offered trainings to the Members on how to participate and challenge the meeting using new IT (Information Technology), the Zoom. Key past events engaged by the NGOF are: Forestry Forum, Human Rights, and Natural Rubber Sustainable Development, etc.

Mr. Pradeep Wagle underlined the roles and responsibilities of the United Nation Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
He stated that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia continued its program of technical cooperation in key areas, including strengthening the rule of law and protecting fundamental freedoms and economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of people in detention.

He, then, noted that OHCHR Cambodia works to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations and individuals to exercise their fundamental freedom of association, opinion, expression and assembly in order to effectively promote the protection of HR in the country. He further mentioned that the Office seeks to foster mutual respect and dialogue between the Royal Government of Cambodia and civil society organizations; assist the Royal Government of Cambodia to develop legislation that enables people to participate in public affairs in a free and informed manner, and monitor the implementation of legislation and policies that directly pertain to the exercise of these freedoms in Cambodia. Mr. Pradeep noticed that many countries have passed emergency laws to save lives from Covid-19 pandemic, however, these laws often go on to abuse HR including provisions of limiting freedom of expression. He, also, noticed that Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have been working harder to protect HR in Cambodia. Mr. Pradeep provided cases of worsening of political freedom of expression, fear of arrests, and intimidation by authorities in Cambodia since February 2020. In September 2020, moreover, 17 (10 females) political activists arrested.

He went on to quote statements of the Secretariat-General of OHCHR. The Secretary-General raises concern on the shrinking civic space and continued political tension, while highlighting OHCHR’s role in providing technical cooperation to strengthen the administration of justice, protecting fundamental freedoms and economic, social and cultural rights including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. He demanded that the Royal Government of Cambodia to fully restore the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs.

Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of NGOF. He started his presentation by thanking all the members of The NGOF Committee for their times and efforts for the last quarter and for this meeting; specifically, he thanked representatives from ministries and government programs like Green Climate Fund/NCDDK. Being as one of the core members, he stated, The NGOF had worked hard on 30 programs of NGOF.

In addition to the above programs, Dr. Vannara claimed that challenges faced and emerging activities during the past quarter of The NGOF include:
• Covid-19 pandemic has prevented fieldworks that led to underspent of the planned budget. However, he mentioned that The NGOF talked to donors for no cost extension; and the agreements made.
• Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging to our sub-national levels and partners. Therefore, we have been using Webinar for meetings. In this regard, our Media and Communication Coordinator staff, Mr. Yu conducted trainings on utilization of Zoom program to our colleagues. So, please feel free to contact him for any inquiries.
• The NGOF teams participated in helping people, who were in the Covid-19 Red-Zones, of Phnom Penh and Ta Khmao, Kandal province, to deliver packages of basic food.
• For the next QMM, he asked the participants of the Webinar to raise any concerns, specifically to Mr. Chea Chandara, The NGOF staff. Definitely, some of your concerns would not be brought to the QMM, but because of priority and common issues, we selected those very immediate needs and priority ones.

H.E. Poch Sovanndy, Deputy Director General of Planning, Ministry of Planning.
His Excellency Sovanndy began his presentation by acknowledging his honor to be one of the presenters in the Webinar. He paid his respects to all the participants of the Webinar. His presentation was about “the updating of the roadmap of the reviewing process on the implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023 and the review of indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals & reports”. The main points of his presentation are as following:

H.E. Sovanndy reminded that the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) is the plan of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) with all inputs from partners including NGOs and CSO. There are two evaluations of the NSDP: one in the mid-mandate and another in the end of mandate of its implementation. He mentioned the situation of development and ratifying that normally inputs, from sectorial ministries and partners, to the NSDP development were collected a year prior to the starting period and its adoption would be one year delay. The mid-term evaluation of the NSDP is due on July – August of the year of in between 2019 – 2023, which should be 2021 (this year).

In every two-year MOP produce report of evaluation of the NSDP. Two main concerning points regarding the evaluation of the NSDP are: 1) to inform the partners on the progresses of NSDP implementation, and 2) to alert the partner of any new comments and inputs for the next NSDP. He noted to the participants that the NSDP is approved by the Prime Minister after consolidation of all inputs by MOP.

Mr. Sorn Sunsopheak, Deputy Director of Program Management and Support Division of National Committee for Decentralization and De-concentration (NCDDS), MoI

Mr. Sunsopheak started by notifying that there is big amount of global Green Climate Fund (GCF) has not been spent and applauded that the NCDD, Cambodia, has been accredited to on the 15th May 2020. He claimed that the process of accreditation was definitely a long one, since 2016 or so. Even though the process of accreditation is long time, Mr. Sunsopheak urged the participants to apply their institutions to the GCF.

Key points to learn from the process of accreditation to GCF of NCDDS are:
• NCDD is the first public accredited entity, who is managing grant for sub-national government, to GCF. That would require synergies of sub-national policies, national policies, and international policies and standards.
• NCDD started the accreditation process to GCF without entity pre-assessment and off budget support that leads to face with many challenges and long journey.
• NCDD accreditation with many conditions that required proper implementation plan, monitoring, reporting, and resources.
• Covid-19 impacts on the entity budget and caused to delay many activities.

H.E. Chat Lengchan Chhaya, Director of the Legal Department of the General Secretariat of the National Council for Social Protection of the Ministry of Economy and Finance

H.E. Chhaya named the Social protection policy framework, 2016-2025, as Green Book. The Green Book consists of two main schemes: Social Assistance and Social Security. Excellency Chhaya further emphasized that the Green Book covers all ages and classes of people in the Cambodian society. She added that the Green Book was created with active participation of all stakeholders, specifically under leadership of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, and H.E. the minister of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

She further detailed the framework with its Vision, Goals, and Mission. The vision and aim of the Royal Government are to increase the status of Cambodia to become an upper-middle income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050. In this context, the Royal Government strongly acknowledges that the social protection system is a major contributor to “economic growth with equity and inclusiveness.” Being responsible for stable living conditions for its citizens, the Royal Government has defined its long-term vision for the development of the social protection system: “the construction of a social protection system based on inclusiveness, effectiveness and financial sustainability as a tool to reduce and prevent poverty, vulnerability and inequality and which will contribute to the development and protection of human resources and stimulate economic growth”, she quoted. In line with this vision and on the basis of political, macro-economic stability and an improved socio-economic development, there is no better time than now to develop a broad “National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025” (NSPPF) focusing on two main pillars, namely, Social Assistance and Social Security, she further stated.

This meeting provided good opportunities for the participants and speakers to bring up excellent questions, suggestions, and to get to know more concrete roles and responsibilities of each other organization. Couples of questions and answers were made as detailed in the sessions of questions and answers of this document. The Webinar was amicably and sincerely closed at 12:27 of the same day by Mr. Om Savath.