The Asian Development Bank will incorporate some of the ideas discussed at a recent ADB-sponsored Pacific Regional Governance Workshop into its Regional Governance Strategy for 2006-2009.
Some of the ideas will also be included in Country Governance Assessments for release next year, says an information paper presented to Cabinet by Tuarere Tangianau of the Office of the Prime Minister and Bredina Drollet of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
Tangianau and Drollet represented the Cook Islands at the ADB Pacific Regional Governance workshop held in Fiji. Representatives of 11 countries attended the meeting, as well as regional and international organisations
The meeting presented the preliminary findings on the Country Governance Assessments carried out by the Asian Development Bank in six Pacific Island countries and reviewed a number of governance activities in the Pacific region as well as identifying action plans to improve governance within each country.
The Country Governance Assessments took a representative sample of six Pacific countries on the basis of their different governance systems, geographical areas and allowance for size. They were assessed based on the quality of the governance institutions operating in each country, with a focus on public administration, public financial management, legal and regulatory framework, judicial system and civil society.
Though the Cook Islands were not included in the assessment, the findings identified many relevant governance issues that need to be addressed in the Cook Islands, the report said, though it noted “with concern” that the assessment did not look at the contribution of development partners to the issues involved.
The report says a presentation on the lessons learned from the Australian Public Sector Financial management highlighted a number of difficulties the Australian government had encountered.
“It was particularly relevant for the Cook Islands as it has adopted the same reform activities, including output budgeting and accrual accounting.”
Countries met individually to discuss governance issues and priorities in each of their own countries, with the aim of identifying activities that could help improve governance in each country, the report says and the Cook Islands identified three priority areas relating to public administration, public financial management and civil society.
Tangianau says the Asian Development Bank is now looking at developing a capacity building programme in financial management for non-government organisations in the Cook Islands.
“It is one way to improve NGOs’ understanding of Budget policies and processes and it will hopefully encourage a more lively and informed standard of debate over Budget issues.”
The focus on improvement of governance would help Pacific Islands countries address the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, improve poor economic franchise, address equity issues and protect traditional values, Tangianau says.
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank is being asked for support to conduct workshop on good governance in the Cook Islands for MPs, Ministers, Heads of Ministries and senior government officials.
Tangianau says it will be a capacity building exercise aimed at educating the group on issues relating to public administration.
“It will be a very positive thing for good governance in this country and it will hopefully create a much better understanding on the rules of public administration.”
The workshop will probably be held in late October or early November and will run back to back with another ADB-sponsored workshop on strategic development planning.