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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Poverty Reduction Strategy Credit - 1st PRSC

1. Project Data:   
ICR Review Date Posted:
Project Name:
Poverty Reduction Strategy Credit - 1st PRSC
Project Costs(US $M)
 20.0  20.0
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 20.0  20.0
Sector, Major Sect.:
Forestry, Central government administration, Primary education, Health, Water supply,
Agriculture fishing and forestry; Law and justice and public administration; Education; Health and other social services; Water sanitation and flood protection
Cofinancing (US $M)
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Closing Date
06/30/2005 06/30/2005
Evaluator: Panel Reviewer: Division Manager: Division:  
Pierre M. De Raet
Kris Hallberg Kyle Peters IEGCR

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
This review by IEG is based on a Simplified Implementation Completion Report (SICR).

The operation was the first in a series of three PRSCs in support of Benin's December 2002 Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). The overall objective of the PRSC series is to reduce poverty through a strong, sustainable and equitable economic growth. IEG notes that neither the President's Report (PR) nor the SICR provides a clear statement of the objectives of the entire series as distinct from those of the first operation (see Credit and Program Summary of the PR vs. para. 34-36 in the PR). However, the specific objectives of the series, as described in the PR, may be stated as follows:
(i) maintaining macro-economic stability and accelerating economic growth focusing on the effective implementation and completion of the privatization program, the setting of a sound regulatory framework in liberalized sectors, improving the private sector investment climate, and improving the legal and judicial systems;
(ii) improving the delivery, quality, and coverage of basic services, mainly rural water supply, health, and basic education. In addition to these three core sectors, the series of PRSCs aims at supporting the implementation of the environment and urban sanitation and forest management programs; and
(iii) enhancing governance and institutional capacity.

b. Components (or Key Conditions in the case of Adjustment Loans):

All conditions were to be met prior to Board presentation. They covered actions in the following areas:

1) improvement in public expenditure management: submission of the 2004 draft budget to the Assembly consistent with the 2004-06 MTEF and PRS priorities; agreement with IDA on annual result targets in rural water, health, basic education, environment and urban sanitation, and forestry; submission to the Assembly of final audit reports prepared by the Auditor General on the 2001 program-budget implementation for 7 ministries; publication twice a week of all public procurement-related documents; and submission to the Assembly of a revised draft procurement code;
2) access to safe water in rural areas: achievement of substantial progress in meeting the 2002 targets;
3) improvement in the performance of the national health system: issuance in 2003 of the 1997-01 health public expenditure review, with recommendations reflected in the 2004-06 program-budget formulation; selection of 10 underserved health districts for implementing the new strategy and mechanisms to facilitate the financial access of the poor to quality health services; and
4) access to quality basic education: adoption of an action plan to redress the major weaknesses identified in the implementation of the educational reforms carried out in 2003; and adoption of an action plan to progressively increase the retention rate in primary education.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
The Credit was fully disbursed upon effectiveness in August 2004.

3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:

The objectives of the series and of the first operation were - and still are - relevant to the economic situation of Benin and consistent with Bank strategy. The series is largely a follow-up to the 2001 Public Expenditure Reform Adjustment Credit (PERAC), the outcome of which was rated Moderately Satisfactory by IEG. However, the PRSC program appears too ambitious, covering inter alia too many sectoral areas, while, even at the level of the central ministries, capacity is still very limited. As a result, there is a high risk that the pace of reforms will not be sustainable through the three operations, as anticipated at the time the program was conceived and designed.

4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :

It is impossible to assess achievement of the objectives since the SICR limits itself to reproduce verbatim the series of pre-Board conditions, which are fulfilled by definition. The SICR contains no information on: (i) the general progress made between approvals of PRCS 1 and PRSC 2 (a second operation was approved by the Board in June 2005) in the specific areas covered by the operation; (ii) whether the original triggers for PRCS 2 were met or whether they were modified and, if so, the justification for said amendment; (iii) the extent to which the operation contributed to attaining the overall objectives of the program; and (iv) whether the program is on track.

5. Efficiency:

Not assessed.
6. M&E Design, Implementation, & Utilization:

Except for some triggers, the M&E system lacked intermediate quantitative indicators to measure progress under the program.
7. Other (Safeguards, Fiduciary, Unintended Impacts--Positive & Negative):


8. Ratings:
ICR Review
Reason for Disagreement/Comments
SatisfactoryNot RatedSee Section 4.
Institutional Dev.: 
ModestNot RatedIdem
Bank Perf.: 
SatisfactorySatisfactoryAlthough the basis for rating is weak, given the lack of evidence, a Satisfactory rating is based on the quality of the analytical work during preparation and follow-through on lessons learned from PERAC. However, quality at entry should be tempered by an overambitious agenda.
Borrower Perf.: 
SatisfactorySatisfactoryThe rating is solely based on the fact that the borrower fulfilled the Board conditions and does not reflect in any way performance in implementation.
Quality of ICR: 

- When insufficient information is provided by the Bank for IEG to arrive at a clear rating, IEG will downgrade the relevant ratings as warranted beginning July 1, 2006.
- ICR rating values flagged with ' * ' don't comply with OP/BP 13.55, but are listed for completeness.

9. Lessons:

No lesson can be learnt from an SICR providing no information on the implementation and achievement of an operation.

10. Assessment Recommended?  Yes

          Why?  After the series is completed, particularly to assess the success or lack thereof of program budgeting, since Benin was one of the first countries to adopt the system.

11. Comments on Quality of ICR:

As indicated under Section 4, the SICR does not provide a basis for a judgment on performance criteria and therefore on ratings. It limits itself to copy verbatim column 2 of the program document's policy matrix (see Program Document, pages 123 et sq.). It does not provide any information on progress, or lack of, on program objectives as a whole and, particularly, on the state of readiness for a second operation. The project included several studies or actions, for which results were expected (e.g., was the study on competitiveness done? was the national power company created and is it operating? were indicators to monitor budget performance selected? etc.)

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