As mentioned in Newsletter No 9, LEI was successful in its bid to undertake the Policy Studies Component of the Palestinian National Authority’s Land Administration Project. After some delay created by the general strike by Palestinian Authority employees over the non-payment of their salaries (due to the freezing of funds following the election success of the Hamas Islamic Party in March 2006) the inception period finally kicked off in January 2007.
The Inception period was bought to a successful conclusion in February with agreement on: the scope of the policy studies and resulting National Land Policy (NLP) Framework; arrangements for Project oversight and management; extent and structure for stakeholder participation; and practical arrangements for international and national consultant coordination.
The policy studies to be undertaken between February and August 2007 are:
- Land Registration Study
- Land Markets Study
- Land Disputes Study
- Public and Municipal Land Study
- Fees, Finance and Property Valuation Study
- Legal and Institutional Framework for Land Administration
- Education Study
These studies will be consolidated into a National Land Policy Framework that will set out:
- The overall principles that define how land policy is to be formulated;
- Core policies and regulatory framework to improve land administration and public land management to support a scaling up of the current Learning and Innovation Loan activity;
- A list of topics to be investigated in order to enable on-going land policy formulation to support the changing needs of the WBG society and economy; and
- A time-bound action plan for implementation of the different recommendations
Significant challenges remain to ensuring appropriate consultation for the policy studies given the political situation and the practical difficulties posed by Israeli checkpoints in moving freely in and between the West Bank and Gaza. These difficulties will be countered to some extent by having national consultants carrying out interviews in Gaza and by video conferences. For consultation on the draft NLP Framework there will opportunity for participation through reading and commenting via the
Of greater question is whether the Mecca Agreement on a National Unity Government of Hamas and Fatah will provide a stable and sustainable high level Land Policy Task Force (LPTF) that can oversee the policy formulation process and take decisions to a functioning Cabinet for deliberation and decision on national land policy.
Just this month (March) Ghassam Khatib, a former Palestinian Minister who is now Vice President of Bir Zeit University talked about signs that West Bank and Gaza were drifting apart. He told United Press International: “There is a very, very dangerous process of separation in all levels, economic, social, legislative and political”.
The international community must do all it can to prevent this drift apart. As it once bought pressure to bear on South Africa to dismantle its apartheid state, it must now bring pressure to bear on Israel to dismantle its apartheid processes and structures. Provided by Rae Porter
With the end of 2006 fast approaching, it seems appropriate to step back and look at the highlights for 2006. It has been a very busy year.
In February we finalised the contract with AusAID for the technical assistance program for LAMP II in the Philippines. This contract, which we won as a sole short-listed company, is the largest contract that we have ever had and will provide a solid financial platform for the company over the next few years.
We have also been busy with bids. In past years we have typically had one large bid per year. This year we submitted 6 bids. Two bids were unsuccessful, one a bid to AusAID for the Local Government Development Project in the Philippines and the other a customary tenure project for the Asian Development Bank in Samoa. We won two of the bids. In June we were notified that we had won a policy contract for a World Bank project in Palestine. This contract was signed in November, but work has not commenced as yet. Early this week we were advised that we were the first ranked tenderer for a project in Dubai to establish a land registration system. The contract is still being negotiated and should be finalised shortly. Work will commence in early 2007. Both projects will establish a presence for LEI in the Middle East. The other two bids, a bid for work on a World Bank project in Kosovo and a recent bid on an AusAID project in Vanuatu are still outstanding.
Work on the two major LEI projects, LAMP II in the Philippines and PRLTP in Laos has continued. Both projects face some difficulties. LAMP II suffers from reduced management input from our counterparts and funding and budget constraints. The problems with funding constraints have been addressed, but there are still some significant challenges. The project in Laos is progressing well, but significant recent institutional changes have increased project risk. Both Ian and Steve and their teams will have their hands full in 2007.
During the year we also undertook short-term consultancies in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Solomon Islands and Tanzania. With this busy work program, the financial results for 2005/06 were the strongest results to date. Most pleasing was the fact that we had increased the non-AusAID revenue to about 24% of total revenue.
There have been some changes in resources during the year. Chris and Ann Lunnay moved back to Wollongong in late 2005 and Chris was a welcome addition to the Wollongong office in 2006. Chris has taken on a key business development role and played a key role in the success of LEI’s bids and LEI’s work in the Pacific.
Clare Brazenor joined us in early 2006 and has been busy doing a great job in Leyte working on LAMP II. Kate Dalrymple joined us in September after spending a year as a Youth Ambassador in Laos. Kate played a key role in completing the comparative study and participated in key conferences in Washington and Oxford. Jacqui Besgrove started work in April as Project Coordinator and quickly became a key team member in the office. Giulietta was also a key team member, but left on maternity leave in September. Kim Martin was employed to stand in for Giulietta in September. Kylie Anthony stepped up and took on a broader role in the company. In a small company it is often difficult to provide career development opportunities and I am very pleased that we have been able to do this for Kylie. With the business success, early in 2007 we will be employing 2 more staff members, one for the office in Wollongong and one to work on projects.
There have also been changes in the LEI Board. Paul Nankivell left the Board early in 2006 and Sam Durland joined the Board as an independent Director in May. We have made significant changes to the way that the Board operates. We have introduced quarterly Board meetings, and more rigor in the way that papers are prepared for the Board meetings and the way that meetings are undertaken. On Monday this week, the Australian Institute of Company Directors conducted a full day of training for the LEI Board and some key staff and associates. A key activity for management and the Board during 2006 was the preparation and review of a new business plan for LEI. This plan confirms a growth strategy for the company and sets an ambitious target for growth in non-AusAID revenue. Key strategies are set out in the plan to focus business development activities and identify and target project opportunities in key markets. We have also set out strategies to develop a business in non-land sectors and to follow-up land sector pojects in the Americas and Europe.
Another initiative that we were developing late in 2006 was the formalisation of the role of Senior Associates. When we formed LEI, Kevin Nettle and Steve McFadzean, two key LEI consultants were designated as Senior Associates. Both Kevin and Steve have played roles in the development of LEI. Steve is now the Team Leader in Laos. We have a close relationship with most of our consultants and prompted by interest expressed by some of these consultants for a broader role in the company, we are now planning to formalise the Senior Associate role. It is likely that Senior Associates will be invited to participate in our annual planning meetings. In 2007 we will be finalising a framework for this interaction and contacting key individuals. Any suggestions on this initiative are most welcome.
All in all a very busy year and no sign that 2007 will be any less busy. I wish all our stakeholders all the best for the holiday season. I thank them for their support during 2006 and I look forward to their continued support in 2007.
All involved on the Lao project continue to be kept on their toes as a number of strategic initiatives are developed within the Lao government that could have an impact on a number of project activities. The creation of the National Land Management Agencys clearly back on the government agenda. This is creating some uncertainty for staff of the Department of Lands as decisions are made on the composition and tasks of the new agency.
A supervision mission planned for early November was cancelled at short notice due to a proposed major structuring of a number of ministries including the Ministry of Finance. While the mission would have allowed a number of key issues to be addressed, November was a very busy month for the submission of key project documents to AusAID and the cancellation of the mission did at least give Steve some much need time to work on those documents.
It is very pleasing to see the continuing success of the Technical Coordinating Committee with the 6th meeting being held in October. This committee has become one of the key drivers for project coordination and dissemination of information to all key project partners and specifically provincial management. Provided by Chris Lunnay