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«Cm 9013 February 2015 Treasury Minutes Government responses on the Eighteenth, the Twenty First to the Twenty Fourth, and the Thirty Third reports ...»

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On the basis of a report by the NAO, the Committee took evidence, on 15 October 2014, from the Department for International Development and the Private Infrastructure Development Group on the Department’s oversight of PIDG and the steps it is taking to assess and improve its performance. The Committee published its report on 19 January 2015. This is the Government response to the Committee’s report.

Background resources NAO report: Oversight of the Private Infrastructure Development Group - Session 2014-15 (HC 265) PAC report: Oversight of the Private Infrastructure Development Group - Session 2014-15 (HC 675) 1: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

Some of PIDG’s investments raise questions over its decision making and the department’s oversight.

Recommendation:

The department must ensure that PIDG has a robust and appropriate approach to due diligence in general and that it receives detailed briefing when concerns are raised about specific investments.

1.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Target implementation date: December 2015.

1.2 The PIDG has helped to create 200,000 jobs and driven £6.8 billion of private investment into poor countries, developing their economies and making them less dependent on aid. The NAO’s report concluded that PIDG investments were achieving good development impacts and financial returns in often difficult environments.

1.3 The Committee’s report is unbalanced and distorted, failing to recognise substantial PIDG achievements. The Committee cites alleged links between convicted fraudster James Ibori and PIDG.

These have been investigated by the NAO, as well as the department and PIDG, and absolutely no evidence has been found to substantiate them. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) looked at the department’s investigation into allegations on Ibori, Emerging Capital Partners and CDC, and concluded there were “no reasons to question the overall outcome of the investigation”.

1.4 PIDG governance has improved substantially and the department has in place robust and appropriate due diligence procedures for all programmes, including the PIDG. The department intends to further strengthen the oversight of due diligence procedures with the collaboration of PIDG partners. Any concerns raised about specific investments anywhere in the department’s portfolio are taken seriously and followed up.

2: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

The department’s weak oversight of PIDG means that some of PIDG’s operational decisions are at odds with the department’s objectives.

Recommendation:

The department should review its oversight mechanisms for PIDG to make sure it has an appropriate level of visibility of operational matters, and that sound financial controls are in place and that money is appropriately spent.

2.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Target implementation date: December 2015.

2.2 Oversight of the PIDG has continued to be strengthened since 2012, including enhanced quarterly reporting, the introduction of a code of conduct and approval of a new travel policy which ensures that no flight under five hours can be business class.

2.3 The department works with PIDG on safeguarding investments in regions with weak regulatory and legal systems. PIDG only supports investments where partners comply with local tax legislation.

These issues will be considered as part of the current independent governance review which will report in advance of June 2015’s Governing Council.

3: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

The department’s poor oversight of PIDG allowed money to sit idle in a bank account rather than funding projects.

Recommendation:

The department should set out what action it has taken to make sure funds it passes to third parties are used promptly. It should report back to the Committee on the outcome of its request for a donation to charity from SG Hambros.

3.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Recommendation implemented.

3.2 The department agreed a new Treasury Policy for PIDG in 2014. All cash disbursed is required to be used within the subsequent three months. Promissory Notes have been introduced to further improve efficiency. Since July 2014 department funds have been disbursed directly to PIDG facilities within 10 business days.

3.3 The department wrote to SG Hambros in October 2014 to ask them to consider a charitable donation on interest received by SG Hambros from the PIDG deposits referred to in the NAO’s report.

Deposits were held in limited or non-interest bearing accounts. Any interest earned on PIDG Trust’s bank accounts does not go to SG Hambros but is used to reduce the department’s contribution to PIDG’s general administration costs. SG Hambros responded in November 2014 that it would not be making a donation to charity. A copy of the letter has been sent to the Committee.

4: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

The department is not using its position as the dominant funder to drive improvements in PIDG’s performance.

Recommendation:

The department should, when considering increasing its investment in PIDG, identify the operational changes it would like to see alongside the development impact it is looking to secure. The department should use its 2015 multilateral aid review to develop a proportionate and risk-based approach to how it funds and oversees multilaterals, with a clear focus on whether its level of influence in multilaterals is commensurate with its level of funding, both in absolute terms and relative to other donors.

4.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Target implementation date: December 2015.

4.2 The department regularly reviews the operational and development impact performance of its investments in the PIDG. The department will continue to assess the organisational effectiveness of the multilaterals it funds and their ability to deliver results.

5: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

Public confidence on spending on overseas aid through PIDG requires robust and independent information on the impacts achieved, which is currently lacking.

Recommendation:

The department should push PIDG to have a robust system to monitor and evaluate impacts using the Department’s own expertise to gain assurance over the adequacy of PIDG’s approach.

5.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Target implementation date: December 2015.

5.2 As the NAO recognised, the PIDG has achieved impressive development results. The department successfully negotiated at the December 2014 PIDG Governing Council a new, independent approach to evaluation. In 2015 the department will also commission a development impact study of select PIDG initiatives.

6: Committee of Public Accounts conclusion:

The department has failed to draw sufficiently on the insight of its country teams to influence the investment decisions PIDG is making.

Recommendation:

In its response to this report, the department should set out how it will apply the expertise of its country teams to improve the value for money of infrastructure investments made by PIDG and other multilateral bodies.

6.1 The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation.

Target implementation date: December 2015.

6.2 The department works to ensure coherence across bilateral and multilateral investments.

Department staff in-country engage with the PIDG in areas where they can add most value, such as around host government interaction, capacity building and risk management. The greater emphasis on economic development by country teams is increasing the positive collaboration around infrastructure projects such as those funded by the PIDG. This will be further enhanced by the department’s successful lobbying for the establishment of regional offices by the PIDG. The Inclusive Growth Diagnostic which is now being implemented by country offices will help the department to make better economic development portfolio choices including considering PIDG as a potential instrument.



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