EvalColombo 2018 from Sept. 17 to 19 | Sunday Observer

EvalColombo 2018 from Sept. 17 to 19

EvalColombo2018 organised by the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation (GPFE) in partnership with Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation (SLPFE), Prime Minister’s Office, Parliament of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Evaluation Association (SLEA) will be held in Colombo from September 17 to 19. Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri in an interview with the Sunday Observer said the three-day forum would promote demand for and use of evaluation by parliamentarians through dialogue and exchange and generate innovative approaches to tackling them at a global level. Parliamentarians across the globe committed to evaluation, evaluation experts and other international delegates will ensure a rich discussion on developing stronger monitoring and evaluation frameworks, evidenced-based decision making and accountability in the Government.

The Deputy Speaker said about 110 leading Parliamentarians from across the world supporting evaluation and another 100 participants including local parliamentarians, private sector and academia would participate in this international forum. Sri Lanka will be the first South Asian country to have a National Evaluation Policy (NEP) in its’ policy landscape, paving the way for good governance, transparency, and accountability.

It will be launched by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on September 17 at EvalColombo2018. According to the Deputy Speaker the three-day forum would explore how best the GPFE can relate to, and support the growing number of regional networks of parliamentarians which are committed to using evaluation evidence as an integral part of their decision-making. It would also share success stories that demonstrate how evaluation has been used within worldwide parliaments for constructive oversight and decision- making on pressing development challenges.

He said that there was a proposal that Sri Lanka should host this GPFE and host the entire program from September 17 to 19, 2018. We are getting about 110 Members of Parliament from all over the world. This is going to be a huge event. We are trying to showcase Sri Lanka as a tourist destination as well. The inauguration ceremony will be held at Hilton, Colombo on September 17 and will be chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena. Workshops will be held up to September 19 and the closing ceremony will be held at the Parliament on the same day under the patronage of the Speaker.

“There will be a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister on September 17 evening where the National Evaluation Policy (NEP) will be launched in his presence. Once the NEP becomes law, the Members of Parliament will have to get involved and the officials trained. Then the message has to go to them so that they are aware of the subject.”

The Deputy Speaker said this is the first time that a GPFE is held anywhere in the world. It was formed about one and half years back and Members of Parliament were asked to form into a group and it was named Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation (SLPFE). He further said that actually, this Forum was to be held sometime back in 2013 when Minister Kabir Hashim was a member of the Opposition. But there was not much interest to host the event. Even Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been trying to promote this in 2002 when our Government was in power.

Unfortunately, when we lost power in 2004 nobody was willing to take it forward. That is why this time we implement this for better management of public funds. Probably, this will be held as an annual event from next year. What is more important is that this is the first ever Parliamentarians’ Global Forum to be held in Sri Lanka. All Party Leaders will be invited for the event. About 110 Members of Parliament from all over the world have confirmed that they would attend this event.

“Hosting this event is very valuable for us as a country. Since we are trying to promote tourism it is time to get all the Members of Parliament from all over of the world. I don’t think most of them would have ever come to Sri Lanka. A part from that since this is a global event, we could promote tourism as well.”

He said evaluation is not new to Sri Lanka. Evaluations have been done by donor agencies when they provide money for any project and we used to do an evaluation and see whether it will be worthwhile ,whether we will get money after the project was implemented.

But it has not been happening properly even though we spend huge sums of money. In the case of various projects, we don’t find whether there is the actual need and also we don’t assess its final outcome and whether the money we spend will bring back something to the country.

When Minister Kabir Hashim was in the Opposition, he brought this up and he had to get hold of three or four MPs from Bangladesh and Nepal and then he started the movement in 2013. Since then, this has become a global movement. Even though Minister Kabir Hashim was the leader of the entire programme and he held the Chair of the forum, we didn’t have anything in Sri Lanka to be proud of. It was all backbenchers in Parliament who gave leadership to the entire program.

There were some evaluation programs for Members of Parliament and they are aware of what we are doing. We took this message to the villages and the districts. I am the Chair of one of the District Coordination Committees (DCC) in Moneragala.

Likewise, there are Members of Parliament who chair those DCC meetings. We took the message to the districts and made all the officials who will ultimately implement this entire program aware about it. They were also made aware that this will be launched very soon and the policy document was passed by the Cabinet. Most probably, we are trying to make it into law. So, whatever project is implemented in this country should have an evaluation program to see whether money is spent wisely. So, the tax payers’ money is given a value.

The Deputy Speaker said Sri Lankan Parliamentarians have the experience as to how they should take this message to the districts as they are the people who pioneered the whole process. Now we have gone quite far ahead of other countries in the region. Nepal has incorporated the evaluation process into their Constitution.

Meanwhile, a member of the SLPFE and UNP Ratnapura District MP Hesha Withanage told the Sunday Observer that it has been decided to introduce a National Evaluation Policy for evaluation before Government funds are utilised for a project to see whether it would be a success or not. This National Evaluation Policy (NEP) has been approved by the Cabinet and arrangements are being made to present the relevant Bill in Parliament. The SLPFE headed by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri would take the lead in this regard.

The NEP would introduce the necessary standards for the evaluations carried out at the state level. This would pave the way to build confidence among the people on the responsibility of Parliament and the Government regarding its intervention in national development. It would also help utilise public money for development activities in a productive manner. It would give a guarantee to taxpaying people and investors that their money is utilised for productive programs and projects. The success and failure of a project can only be assessed through evaluation. This evaluation process will be done in an independent manner.

MP Withanage further said NEP is very vital for the country’s good governance and effective development. Parliamentarians have the ability to provide necessary guidance to the national evaluation policies and methodologies. When Minister Kabir Hashim was in the Opposition, the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation was formed several years ago discussing with Parliamentarians worldwide.

Through this movement, countries worldwide have already conducted discussions and seminars. As a result of this, the SLPFE was established. EvalColombo2018 would be the first international event to be conducted by the Parliamentarians to promote the culture of evaluation.

The event would create a dialogue to take decisions at large based on evaluation process within legislative framework. In addition, attention would also be focused on poverty alleviation, global safety, prosperity and vision for sustainable development.