Marshall Islands encourages home-grown solutions to development coordination

[Majuro, Marshall Islands] Pacific island nations are in an ideal position to share local experiences and lessons learnt in the area of development coordination.

This was the message from the Marshall Islands Government Secretary for Finance, Mr Alfred Alfred Jr, when meeting with the Peer Review team currently in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro.

The team of Pacific experts is in-country to propose ways of improving planning, budgeting and delivery of development programmes in the Marshall Islands to both Development Partners and the Government.

“We’ve heard a lot of good things about the Peer Review and we look forward to engaging with you on ways of improving our public finance information and accountability systems in particular,” said Mr Alfred. “It’s a pleasure to welcome you and finally have the team on the ground.”

The Republic of the Marshall Islands volunteered to take part in a Peer Review of development coordination at the Forum Economic Ministers’ Meeting (FEMM) held in Apia last year. Peer Reviews are a regional initiative under the Cairns Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination (Forum Compact) adopted by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2009.

“Since the Forum Compact was implemented in 2009, I am convinced that the region has come a long way,” said Mr Alfred. “We are at a stage now where we can comfortably say that we have a good pool of homegrown experts who are well-suited to guide us in achieving the targets that have been set by the Forum Compact.

“We are at a stage when we can come up with our own best practices.”

Mr Alfred said that for many Government ministries in the Marshall Islands, including the Ministry of Finance, the norm has been to look at international best practices from outside the region as guides.

“It’s good to see that we’re changing that and looking at best practices that have been devised by home grown experts which are suited for the situation in the Pacific islands,” said Mr Alfred.

“Looking around the region we can comfortably say that we have public financial management systems that are now better synchronised to fit into our national planning systems, and at the same time, strengthen public accountability.”

Mr Alfred added: “I look forward to engaging with the team over the next two weeks, not only to draw on lessons from other countries in the Pacific, but also share with you some of our experiences and good practices you might be able to take back to your own countries.”

Financial management policy in the Marshall Islands concentrates largely on containing expenditure, reform of public enterprises and more effective revenue generation, according to Mr Alfred. A Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment was carried out in 2011 in the Marshall Islands with the assistance of the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC).

The Peer Review team comprises Ms Dallas Young, Director of International Affairs of the Cook Islands, Mr Colin Tavi, Head of the Government Monitoring and Evaluation Unit of Vanuatu, and Mr Mosese Qasenivalu, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager from the United Nations system based in Fiji.

The team will consult during their two weeks in Majuro with ministers and officials in central planning and financial management ministries and key service delivery ministries (e.g. education and health), representatives of key development partners, representatives of non-government organisations and the private sector, among others. Their advice will be sent to the Government of the Marshall Islands and development partners for consideration and reported to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at their annual meeting this year.

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For further information please contact the Forum Secretariat’s Communications Officer, Mue Bentley Fisher, via email mueb@forumsec.org.fj, or call the Peer Review team on the ground in Majuro via (692) 4554500.

Click on the following links for related Press Statements:

Marshall Islands Government welcomes Pacific experts (17th February 2012)

STRENGTHENING DEVELOPMENT COORDINATION IN THE PACIFIC: Peer review underway in the Marshall Islands (13 February 2012)