An adapted manual on devolution issued by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism will help to prevent finger pointing on responsibilities between the ministry and the provincial departments.

The Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, made the comment at a meeting held at the ministry yesterday to discuss the adaptation of the ministry’s devolution manual regarding the Sam Sang (Three Builds) initial implementation.

“We hope that a perfect manual will close all the loopholes which exist because the provinces have claimed that they are responsible for managing the work while the ministry collected the revenue leading to a potential conflict of authority,’ he said.

The ministry is adapting the manual that has been used since it held a meeting in March to discuss devolution regarding the pilot implementation of the Three Builds.

The previous manual had defined the responsibilities for all levels from central to village.

However, the amended version divides the responsibilities between the ministerial and provincial levels, not involving individual departments but identifying the sectoral and subsectoral tasks necessary.

According to the Lao administration structure, each ministry has its provincial departments and district offices and, as the latter have few staff, detailed responsibilities are not defined for them.

Prof. Dr Bosengkham said the manual will focus on devolution between the ministry and the provincial authorities, therefore responsibilities at district level will depend on the decisions of the provincial authorities.

The Three Builds directive aims to build up the provinces as strategy-making units, districts as comprehensively strengthened units, and villages as development units. According to their instruction on devolution, the ministry will take sole responsibility for drafting and implementing Party directives into strategic plans, programmes, projects, and regulations.

However, the ministry and its provincial departments and units at the most detailed level have to cooperate on numerous issues, such as human resource development planning, inspection, and sub-sector reporting.

As an example, provincial authorities have the responsibility to study and propose to the ministry on the establishment of state, private, and individual printing houses. They also have a role in implementing and managing the established businesses, while the ministry has the responsibility of authorising and cancelling business activities.

Prof. Dr Bosengkham said devolution is transference of responsibility and benefits to more local authorities so that they will no longer be able to blame others for a works failure which is under their responsibility.

The ministry plans to finalise the manual next month with meetings to follow in order to handover the responsibilities to the provincial authorities.

Prof. Dr Bosengkham also called on media representatives to be fully prepared, with equipment in place, especially the installation of loud speakers in target villages of the pilot project, to ensure that communication on devolution is provided to the target groups.

The Deputy Ministers of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Buangeun Xaphouvong and Mr Savankhone Razmountry, co-chaired the meeting.

Source: Vientiane Times
June 13, 2013