Since its approval in end-2011, significant progress has been made in implementing the activities envisaged under the RETA. Focal points have been identified in both sector division and resident missions while a Steering Committee, comprising the GMS national coordinators among others, has been set up to oversee the overall implementation and monitoring of the TA outputs. The RIF Implementation Plan (RIF IP) was completed in 2014 and presented to the Leaders at the 5th GMS Summit Meeting on 20 December 2014.
Key sector- and national-level assessments were undertaken in 2012 towards the formulation of the regional investment framework. Sector-specific assessments in the transport, urban development, energy and human resource development were done to provide a baseline to develop a meaningful results framework and to identify potential areas for more detailed analysis of regional investment projects. The sector-specific assessments will subsequently be integrated into a multisector investment approach emphasized by the new GMS Strategic Framework.
National economic planning experts/consultants in Cambodia, PRC, Thailand and Viet Nam were also engaged to undertake detailed review of national, subnational and sector plans. The consultants helped identify priorities and initiatives over the medium and longer term, as well as complementarities that may be strengthened through the GMS regional cooperation. The objective of the assignment was to identify national priorities that can benefit from, or contribute to GMS regional cooperation to ensure that the GMS regional planning is consistent with and aligned to national development priorities, while at the same time promoting synergy of individual national efforts.
The RIF Steering Committee met thrice in 2012 to review and guide the TA outputs that were collectively presented to the 18th GMS Ministerial Conference in Nanning, PRC, in December 2012. The GMS countries appreciated the TA outputs and asked ADB to deepen analysis in emerging areas of investment priority in the GMS, specifically multi-sector investments in urban and area development along GMS corridors, special economic zones and industrial parks, and related institutional analysis and capacity building. The Ministerial Conference also endorsed the establishment of a new GMS Task Force on Urban Development, consistent with the new thrust of the GMS program.
The TAs original completion date was 31 March 2013 but was extended to 31 March 2014 to conduct additional studies and to finalize the GMS RIF project pipeline. The specific activities undertaken in 2013 included: (i) support for organizing the GMS Economic Corridor Forum and the RIF Steering Committee Meetings; (ii) preparation of the GMS RIF; and (iii) formation of the GMS Urban Development Task Force. The RIF Steering Committee also met throughout 2013 to finalize the RIF pipeline for 10 sectors.
At the 19th GMS Ministerial Conference held in Vientiane, Lao PDR in December 2013, the GMS Ministers endorsed the GMS RIF Pipeline of Potential Projects for 2013-2022. Concomitant with their endorsement of the RIF, the GMS Ministers at the 19th MC directed GMS officials to: (i) prepare a 5-year RIF Implementation Plan; (ii) complement the Implementation Plan with a monitoring and evaluation system; (iii) formulate and execute a broad-based resource mobilization campaign; and (iv) ensure that the GMS Program and the RIF support economic corridors, sustainable and balanced development, and regional integration.
In April 2014, the TA was extended until 30 September 2015 to (i) prepare of the RIF Implementation Plan and the M&E system, (ii) prepare a GMS Project Database and website, (iii) prepare a GMS Urban Development Strategy, (iv) conduct an initial review of the GMS Transport Sector Strategy (2006-2015), (v) prepare Pre-Feasibility Studies for RIF Projects, and (vi) support key GMS Meetings in 2014-2015.
Throughout 2014, GMS sector working groups, task forces and forums prioritized the project pipeline and in December 2014, a 5-year Regional Investment Program Implementation Plan (RIF IP) for 2014-2018 was endorsed by the GMS Leaders at the 5th GMS Summit. The Review of the Transport Sector Strategy was also completed in 2014. It was presented at the GMS Subregional Transport Forum on 23-24 July 2014 and was one of the core deliverables for the 5th GMS Summit. In 2015, a system for monitoring the implementation of projects in the RIF IP was developed and reported on by GMS sector working groups, task forces and forums. The first RIF IP progress report was presented at the 20th GMS Ministerial Meeting.
In 2015, multisector investment approaches was also strengthened through the endorsement and publication of a GMS Urban Development Strategic Framework. A GMS Knowledge Platform (Output 4) was also launched at the 20th GMS Ministerial Conference in the form of the online GMS Projects Database. The TA also supported the preparation of a Booklet of GMS Statisics on Growth, Connectivity and Sustainable Development.
The RETA supported the 7th Economic Corridors Forum,which was held in Kunming, PRC in June 2015, and focused on several aspects of multisector economic corridor development including: strategies and action plans for economic corridor development; focus on section-specific corridor concept plans; a transport and trade facilitation action program; and the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the GMS.
Three pre-feasibility experts for the energy, urban development and transport sectors were also engaged to accelerate the formulation of GMS RIF projects.