30 Aug 2006

Pacific agencies groomed for partial merger

6:54 pm on 30 August 2006

A proposal to merge Pacific intergovernmental agencies to make them more effective has been refined after officials from the Pacific Islands Forum conducted consultations around the region.

Last year, consultant Tony Hughes recommended merging five key organisations to avoid duplication of services.

The Forum's secretary general, Greg Urwin, says the new report calls for a partial merger but with the Forum kept separate.

He says this would see the technical agencies - the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Forum Fisheries, the Pacific Community, the Board of Educational Assessment and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission become a single organisation.

"At the same time they are suggesting that the Forum, as the political body, is set side by side with this new body, and that it continue to be the political expression of the independent South Pacific."

Mr Urwin says if the latest plan is accepted by the region's leaders, the aim would be to have it in operation by the beginning of 2009.