During 1998, the FAO policy of decentralization toward regional offices was completed in RAP. Some final authorities were allocated to the regional office for Asia and the Pacific, such as budget decisions in respect of the field programme in the region, and the consequent updating by RAP staff of core budget and finance systems maintained at headquarters. Also, the regional office obtained the delegated authority to handle personnel functions for all RAP staff and field project staff in the region. Now, the regional office can also undertake procurement action within established limits, and authorize and effect related payments to suppliers and contractors.
The decentralization has resulted in greatly enhanced efficiency and a much faster response time to requests made by member countries, third parties and staff in the office and in the region. In conclusion, the decentralization to the Asia-Pacific region has proved to be very successful and is appreciated by the countries involved.
In order to strengthen multidisciplinary co-operation and achieve optimal results, workplans were prepared, in close consultation with the technical divisions in headquarters, through discussions among the technical department groups at the regional office.
The basic guidelines for the workplan for 1999 are to ensure:
In view of the limited time frame of yearly workplans, full implementation of the above aims will need to be carried over the years 2000 to 2001.
The decentralization process basically involved the strengthening of the capacity of the regional office to perform FAO's mandate in the region. The reallocation of functions and posts from headquarters to the regional office entailed a new relationship between RAP and headquarters as well as between RAP and the countries it serves, particularly for the planning and implementation of FAO activities in the region.
This was taken into account during the preparation of the 2000–2001 Programme of Work and Budged (PWB), which should ensure:
As a result, the following key areas were identified for concerted action at national and regional level for the next two years:
During the year, a room in the historic Maliwan Mansion was chosen and renovated to provide a permanent training ability in a suitable environment for continuing staff development. The purpose was to arrange a state-of-the-art facility, while protecting and preserving the architectural aspects of this classified building.
The facility is equipped with 10 PCs for students and one for an instructor, all connected to the FAO data network and the Internet. A data/video projector enables projection from either a PC, VCR, videodisk, or video camera. A large projection screen and whiteboard were also installed. The lighting is track-mounted and adjustable to provide different light levels as required.
The facility had a soft opening in November. Mr Pongpol Adireksarn, Thai Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, officially opened it during a ceremony held on 20 January 1999.
Minister Pongpol unveils a plaque at the Maliwan mansion