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Official News

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Governing Council of Millenium Challenge Account-Armenia SNCO has met, presided at by council chair, RA Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan.

The meeting discussed and approved the request for a 5th disbursement and the attached documents due for submission to the MCC, inclusive of the account of compliance with the disbursement pre-conditions, the quarterly progress report, the financial and procurement statements, the financing and working plans, the procurement-related transaction guidelines, other projects.

In presenting the MCC-Armenia program 2007 April-June quarterly report, CEO of MCA-Armenia SNCO Ara Hovsepyan indicated that the period under review was marked by a sharp increase in the activity of procurement-related transactions, especially with regard to the Irrigated Agriculture Project.

According to the speaker, USD 2.157.227 were spent in the second quarter of 2007, which in addition to the sums used to fund the tasks set for the preceding quarters (rural road design work, payments due under the implementation agreements) basically were used to finance the activities of the implementing entities and other contractors, in particular of the ACDI VOCA, covering the establishment of pilot sites and organization of training courses, as well as the design of road rehabilitation work under a first package. In the period under review, a number of key papers were drafted by the MCA-Armenia SNCO with subsequent approval and circulation by the Governing Council, including the financial accountability plan and the audit plan.

Ara Hovsepyan said that the second quarter of 2007 also stood out by the multitude of managerial visits, especially MCC CEO John Danilovich's June 11-12 visit to Armenia. According to the report, MCA-Armenia has succeeded in ensuring continuous activities towards the implementation of working plans. In particular, feasibility studies and rural road design were carried out by SWECO International. Procurements for various sections of Rural Road Rehabilitation and Irrigated agriculture projects have been made. On a regular basis, the ACDI VOCA has been reporting about the results expected from the Water-to-Market activity. The speaker emphasized the feedback accounts of those training courses organized in the selected pilot communities. No further implementation agreements have been signed in the meantime.

The speaker noted that a new government cabinet was formed last June in the wake of the 2007 May parliamentary elections and added that the political processes did not impact the operations of MCA-Armenia SNCO: the Governing Council membership remained unchanged and continues working on the Program.

Mr. Hovsepyan briefed those present on the progress made in the Rural Road Rehabilitation component and the Irrigated Agriculture project with its Water-to-Market activity, the coordination of efforts with the Governing Council and the Stakeholders' Committee, the meetings held in marzes with program beneficiaries, emphasizing the Stakeholders' Committee-initiated presentation-discussion held in Aragatsotni marz center Ashtarak town, attended by the staff of marz administration, community heads and representatives from non- governmental organizations. The monitoring and evaluation work, too, was described in all detail by the speaker.

Among core work envisaged in the third quarter of 2007, Ara Hovsepyan mentioned the continuation of the competition launched to purchase consulting services for research data collection on Water-to-Market activity impact assessment, the coordination and backing of the implementing entities' data collection and evaluation activities, the reconsideration of MCA-Armenia's monitoring and assessment schedule etc. According to the speaker, under this 5th disbursement request, MCA-Armenia expects to receive USD 3.270.122 from the MCC for the third quarter of 2007, of which USD 206.878 - in October, USD1.924.934 - in November, USD1.138.310 in December. The bulk of these sums will go towards the implementation of Rural Road Rehabilitation, Irrigated Agriculture, Monitoring and Evaluation, Program Administration and Oversight components. It was noted that as approved by the Governing Council, the disbursement request will be submitted to the council chairman for ratification.

The speaker has also touched upon the existing impediments and the steps towards elimination thereof.

The meeting has also discussed and approved the final drafts of the following instruments: the agreement on the competition for the purchase of consulting services under the Environmental and Social Evaluation and Monitoring component, the Implementing Entity agreement to be signed between MCA-Armenia SNCO and Rural Financing Structure PIU State Institution, the agreement on 6 water-mains rehabilitation design and construction monitoring activities to be signed between MCA-Armenia SNCO and Haijernakhagits Institute CJSC, the TOR of an individual consultant subject to engagement for the audit of works carried out on the roads incorporated in the first package of Rural Roads Rehabilitation component, as well as the results of the evaluation of technical proposals for the provision of consulting services under the Engineering Work Oversight activity concerning such roads.

The Council has similarly re-endorsed the results of the assessment of technical proposals regarding the selection of a financial agent for the MCA-Armenia program. Also, there has been discussed the shortlist of candidates to the post of MCA-Armenia SNCO Chief Legal Adviser/Deputy Director-General, the names of successful applicants were announced, subject to final endorsement by the MCC.

The meeting agenda included discussion of the amendments to the agreement on the purchase of consulting services for the conduct of a survey regarding the Water-to-Market activity's impact assessment. It was decided that the agreement with JEN financial-engineering company and Areg NGO Management Consulting Consortium shall be concluded for a period of one year instead of 4 years as decided previously. This decision was passed account taken of the discussions held with representative of the MCC.

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