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Grace Under Pressure: Abt Britain and the Good Governance Fund - Technical Assistance Facility Eastern Partnership Countries

In May 2020, a team from Abt in Britain eagerly launched the Good Governance Fund (GGF) programmea new and complex effort to improve governance in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Armenia. The programme is helping these governments modernize laws that impact workers and employers and develop strategies and models to improve energy efficiency. We also are helping stimulate conflict-riven economic sectors and improve evidence-based decision making. That will enable partner government investments in governance to be more efficient, transparent, and impactful.

With funding from the United Kingdom government, the GGF team moved quickly to establish operations in the Eastern Partnership. We set up a Ukraine Hub and engaged with the client, local stakeholders, and our partner, Project Management Unit (PMU). The challenges and opportunities of designing and implementing a broad range of projects were clear. But a confounding confluence of eventsthe COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and consolidation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)required an adaptive approach to deliver the promised impact. 

The GGF team put in place a vision for the programme with impact at the core of everything. Its focus stemmed from the Project’s objective of building resilience in targeted countries by supporting domestic reform agendas to reduce corruption; promote transparent and accountable institutions; and build open, inclusive economies and societies. The results spanned:

  • technical impact through helping local stakeholders resolve priority challenges identified through a collaborative process led by the British Embassy Kyiv/FCDO
  • financial impact through a lean and scalable operation, which delivered value for money internally and externally
  • human impact through a process that integrated Abt’s principles of gender equity, disability, and social inclusion in funded projects and established local ownership to ensure activities suited the country.

Since its launch, the GGF Technical Assistance Facility: Eastern Partnership has implemented eight activities covering diverse topic. They include financial literacy in Moldova, energy efficiency and modeling for Ukraine, economic revitalization of the Donbass region of Ukraine, and financial leasing in Georgia. In addition, we helped with policy improvements to stimulate the growth of the micro-, small- and medium-enterprise (SME) sectors in all countries coping with the impacts of COVID-19. Another suite of programmes is under way in Ukraine after budget cuts forced a shift in client focus.

The impact of this work is being felt at strategic, practical, and operational levels. Key policy updates are under way. We won approval for roadmaps to address challenging issues such as access to energy and the conflict in the Donbass. And citizen engagement is felt at every level. In the fine tradition of Ukrainian literature and song, this work could perhaps inspire chapters and chapters, but for now let us just celebrate a few highlights.

Ukraine’s Labour Market and Regulation Transformation: The GGF team worked with Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to develop five policy measures to tackle the harm COVID-19 inflicted on workers and businesses. These measures addressed topics such as:
 

  • job sharing
  • establishment of a social dialogue platform
  • upgrades to the State Labour Service framework for how businesses operate safely during COVID-19
  • transformation of the State Employment Service to deliver relief to workers more efficiently.

As a result of this work, Ukraine can now ensure better protection of employees’ rights and wellbeing through business compliance with clear labour standards. The government also will consider employers’ interests through a social dialogue platform that increases business involvement in government policymaking. And both employers and employees are able to receive quality support from relevant government institutions.

The Project Team also prepared a communications campaign to promote the findings of an employers’ survey. It showcased labour safety at enterprises under COVID-19 through a multi-media campaign and brochures for regulators, workers, and employers, including the street signs that highlight where COVID-19 resources are available.

An Initial Analysis of SME Development to Revitalize the Ukrainian Economy (Phase I): Given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Ukraine, the GGF team was asked to initiate a multi-phase program to explore responses. The team:

  • focused initially on a review of international best practices and policy responses to foster SME resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on the SME sector in Ukraine, including analysis of employment, revenue, and demands on government funds for support.
  • forecast prospects for the sector in 2021 and made recommendations for improvement.

Countries studied include the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, and Estonia. The project team then formulated two policy proposals to support SMEs in Ukraine during the pandemic and to stimulate their recovery from the crisis. The effort will become further operationalized in 2021-2022 as part of Phase II and III of this effort.

Micro Small- and Medium-Enterprise (MSME) Support and Alternative Financing in the Republic of Georgia: Before the pandemic, the Georgian economy was growing quickly through a vibrant MSME sector, which operated in hospitality, tourism, food exports, and other industries. But the sector suffered due to COVID-19. The GGF team developed a roadmap with detailed recommendations for addressing the crisis. The team used a range of approaches, including company surveys, policymaker consultations, and related activities. The team also analyzed how and where government support to this sector was implemented, how to improve it, and ways to improve monitoring for more evidence-based policymaking and resource allocations. Based on the findings from this analysis, we made recommendations to the government around assessing the full extent of the COVID-19 crisis to tailor its activities to the current needs of MSMEs. They could include launch of potential access to finance and credit guarantee schemes.

 
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