Institute of Public Policy and Administration Hosts
Policy Process Symposium at Afghan Ministry of Finance
“Afghanistan faces a complex and challenging policy agenda. Defining the policy-making process to improve its effectiveness and ensure that policy is informed by the best analysis will be critical to advancing this agenda,” said Dr Bohdan Krawcheko, Director General of the University of Central Asia (UCA).
Dr Krawchenko was opening a symposium on Policy Process in the Government of Afghanistan hosted by UCA’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA). The event was organised in partnership with, and hosted at, the Ministry of Finance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Kabul on 25 February 2014. Mr Abdul Razaq Vahidi, Deputy Minister of Finance for Administration, welcomed participants and reiterated the ministry’s commitment to strengthening policy development.
Experts and government officials discussing policy process in the Government of Afghanistan.
The symposium was attended by over 30 government officials, primarily from policy units, and policy experts and representatives of non-governmental and international organisations. Sessions focused on government policy-making processes and how to improve them with inputs informed by research, analysis and civil society engagement.
During the first panel, IPPA Research Fellow Ms Zuhra Bahman spoke on the Policy Process in the Government of Afghanistan. She noted there are three streams in the practice of policy-making: single-issue policy-making by individual ministries; sectoral policy-making involving multiple ministries and stakeholders; and ‘siasat’ (‘important policy’ in Dari سیاست) on matters such as foreign policy and security, which largely emanates from the President.
“We use the word ‘siasat’ when we talk about foreign policy or national security policy. We borrow the English word ‘policy’ when speaking about economic development, education, health and rural development. This creates a hierarchy of priorities that misses the inter-dependencies,” observed Ms Bahman.
Dr Krawchenko then gave an overview of Policy-making Process in Government: International Perspectives. Drawing on the experience of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, he addressed political support and technical capacity at the centre, defined procedures, inter-ministerial coordination and the role of the cabinet and ministries in policy making.
The second panel, chaired by Ms Khwaga Kakar, Advisor to the Political Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saw robust discussion on ministerial-level policy development. Panelists focused on the need to strengthen capacity of both the centre and ministries, particularly within the context of international donor-driven policy inputs. They included Mr Nader Yama, Director of Strategic Coordination at the Independent Directorate for Local Governance; Ms Ghazaal Habibyar, Director of Policy at the Ministry of Mines; and Mr Mukhtar Ghafarzoy, Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
“Our panelists demonstrated the value of explicit conversations on policy process in government,” said Dr Roman Mogilevskii, IPPA Head of Research in his closing remarks. “We cannot effectively support policy makers until we understand what they need to create better policies.” He added that IPPA will offer a Certificate Programme in Policy Analysis in 2014 and encouraged participants to apply.
The symposium is the third in a series held in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, part of UCA’s initiative to build the capacity of public servants in evidence-based public policy development and analysis.
This symposium was organised within the framework of the University of Central Asia’s Research and Public Policy Initiative (RPPI). RPPI aims to ground policy-making processes in Afghanistan and Central Asia in sound evidence and policy analysis by building the capacity of researchers to conduct independent and critical studies and by expanding the ability of policy professionals to utilise such research in policy development. RPPI is supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
The Institute of Public Policy and Administration provides in-depth analysis of Central Asian economic policies and organises quality professional development opportunities for civil servants in the region. The Institute has produced a series of peer-reviewed original research papers on social and economic issues, public administration and public policy as they relate to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Further information can be found at http://www.ucentralasia.org/Research/ippa