SPC would back review of Pacific bodies
SPC chief is fully supportive of plans for a review of Pacific regional agencies.
The director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, says he fully supports a planned review of Pacific regional bodies.
The Australian and Fiji Governments are to call Pacific leaders together to discuss the regional architecture.
This follows Fiji's reluctance to re-join the Pacific Islands Forum in its current set-up.
Don Wiseman asked Dr Tukuitonga if such a review is a good idea.
DR COLIN TUKUITONGA: Absolutely, I mean, I'm on record as saying that too many too many development agencies in the region - and sometimes the issue of who does what becomes very real, that despite the best efforts of people, often we do have issues around who does what. And so clarity - you know at the political level, and the leaders coming together, would help us at the implementation level enormously. There's no question, I think, of the potential benefit for the discussion. Provided of course, the discussion comes up with some useful way forward. Because it does indeed make life easier for us as we try to implement the decisions of the leaders. So it can only be a good thing I think. And in any case - today we were talking about the governance of SPC and how might we improve the way we govern ourselves and one of the things that's come out of that of course is, you can talk about improving the governance of SPC, but SPC is really only one part of a much bigger regional needs and some clarity over the architecture, as it's called, would be very helpful.
DON WISEMAN: Yes, although. This is a region that's been down this road so many times and doesn't seem to be able to resolve it. Quite awhile ago, one of the schemes was to fold the SPC into the Pacific Islands Forum. Now, there's the possibility that the Forum could disappear. It seems like a lot of energy goes in to reviewing and perhaps not a lot of progress being made.
CT: Well I'm not sure I'd agree entirely with you Don. I mean I think it's a necessary and ongoing part of publicly funded institutions for people to constantly look at how things are done and whether things can be done better. So I think we have to accept that this process of revolution and improvement and change is a necessary part of our existence. Particularly for those of us that are funded by the public purse. And also I don't quite agree with you because one of the most recent discussions was what was called the RIF - the Regional Institutional Framework review which resulted in SOPAC as it was called and the Bureau for Educational Assessments being part of SPC. Wholesale change of course is always going to be challenging but as long as you're making progressive implemental change, it can only be a good thing. I do know of course that along with the positive changes that came about as a result of the process, there were people who felt that there was a lot of pain and wondered what the value of it is. But I think as I say, I come back to the point - those of us who receive money from the public purse, whether that's New Zealand, France, USA or the Islands themselves - we have a responsibility to constantly look at how we're doing things and how we could do better. So this announcement, I think, can only be good for the region provided of course, we all rise above our own institutional and/or sectorial needs and agree on what is best for the region, rather than what is best for the organisation.
DW: I get the impression that what is driving this is Fiji's desire to see significant change in the Pacific Islands Forum and it's antipathy towards the presence of New Zealand and Australia there.
CT: I'm sure you're right and I'm not really party to the detailed discussions but I suspect that you're right. The point I am making is that that conversation can only be a good thing for the region. Provided people approach it with the right frame of mind. Because it does affect the way we can operate at the regional organisational level. That's the point I'm making because a lot of what we do, not all of it, but a lot of what we do is shaped and determined by the leaders and if the leaders come together and agree on a direction, it can only be a good thing for the likes of ourselves here at SPC.
DW: Could you see down the road an organisation, such as SPC, and it is the body in which all of these other agencies are like sub-branches or arms of the SPC. Would that be a logical thing?
CT: Well you know, if you look at other parts of the world and in the Caribbean, I understand Caricom is the one organization that does arrange everything and it works well for them. I'm not saying that that's necessarily what's best for the region but there are experiences from around the world that we can learn from - first thing. Second thing, SPC was established in 1947 and a number of these organisations were in fact programmed within SPC at the time but because of the policy environment and the political mood they branched off and became organizations themselves. I can't comment on the wisdom, or not, of that. But that was I suppose, a reflection of what happened at the time. But I do think, now and into the future, I do question the number of agencies that are operating in what is essentially a crowded development space and members not getting clarity because often the agencies allow themselves to be dictated by their own needs, rather than responding to what the island members might need. And this is why I'm saying there's probably a case to be made for re-examining how the whole thing is structured and think about what's the best way forward. SPC has a long track record. I think the consensus appears to be that we do a good job and I do think we have something to offer. So that's why I see this as an opportunity to improve how we do things in the region. It can only be good for the island members and the communities that we seek to serve.
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