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Regional News

Fiji workshop to enhance accountability and transparency

SUVA, Fiji (Press Release) — Members of the Fiji Public Accounts Committee or PAC participated in a second series of workshops to build their capacity in better understanding their financial oversight role within the legislative process.

The role of the PAC is important in that it ensures public funds are spent effectively, efficiently and economically for the benefit of citizens.

The training was facilitated by the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions or PASAI in collaboration with the Office of the Auditor General in Fiji, the United Nations Development Program and the Pacific Technical Assistance Centre June 4-5, 2019.

The workshop was implemented as part of the activities of the Strengthening Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific Project funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP. PASAI is a responsible party to the project and delivers the Supreme Audit Institution or SAI component and contributes to the strengthening of the budget oversight capacities of PAC from the perspectives of SAIs.

The two-day workshop covered the Parliament’s accountability and reporting framework and the implications Parliament has on the PAC oversight role on public expenditure, compared to PAC roles in countries and regions around the world.

Members of the PAC were introduced to the Fiji budget process and budget documents, the regional Public Financial Management and Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability review as well as the accounting and reporting framework.

In delivering his opening address for the training, the speaker for the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, highlighted the importance of capacity building for the PAC members.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of capacity building for you honorable members of the public accounts committee, (and other committees of parliament for that matter), to equip yourselves with technical skills and the knowledge to enhance your oversight roles and perform them effectively and efficiently,” said Ratu Nailatikau.

He added, “The program complements other capacity-building programs that have been undertaken by the committee over their term in office.”

The EU program officer, Miroslav Skriecka, in his closing remarks highlighted the EU support in this area.

''The EU is committed to support [Public Finance Management or] PFM reforms in the region. Eleven million euros has been allocated to this end through the EDF11th regional project Strengthening Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific which has also facilitated this important workshop,” said Skriecka.

“An essential component of the PFM EU regional project supports UNDP's and PASAI's contribution to improving the budgetary scrutiny, PFM oversight and accountability capacities of parliaments, supreme audit institutions, to align them with international standards and foster citizen engagement and oversight.

He added, “In order to achieve a holistic approach, the project also provides some funding to PFTAC and contributes to USP's capacity building work in PFM area.”

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • • to build the capacity of the members of the Fiji PAC to better understand their financial oversight role within the processes of Parliament;
  • • to facilitate efficient and effective scrutiny of the operations of the government organizations;
  • • to make the members of the PAC aware of both the Fiji SAI and PASAI and the work they perform in the country and the Pacific region.

The workshop for PAC members was followed by a similar workshop for senior officials and management, including members of boards of government companies, commercial statutory authorities and other government agencies.