Attempts to improve Pacific agriculture policy planning
The European Union leads attempts to improve the management of agriculture spending in the Pacific through better policy planning.
Efforts are being made in the Pacific to improve policy planning in agriculture so governments can better target spending in that sector.
A European Union led workshop, also involved the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Bank brought together public officials from most Pacific countries.
The EU's Ambassador to the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, told Don Wiseman what they want to achieve.
ANDREW JACOBS: One thing that we need to work on and we are working on with our partners in the Pacific Community, the SPC and also the World Bank and the IMF, is really supporting public financial management or improvements in public financial management across the Pacific, so that budgets are allocated in the best possible way so that they are tracked properly, and so that governments can really be assisted in making sure that the public funds are used in the best possible way. And we are doing that not only because we are convinced that this will benefit our partner countries considerably, it is also because as a development partner we are very keen to move, where ever possible, to budget support as a means of aid delivery. In other words to do away with the technical assistance programme and carrying out tenders to purchase equipment for governments, rather we would prefer to pay money directly into the treasury, and have the implementation of projects carried out directly by our partners. But in order for us to do that we need to be certain there is a robust system of public financial management in place, and that ministries of finance are improving year on year the budgets are managed. We need to be sure that our taxpayers money is being used properly.
DON WISEMAN: To what extent do you think you can get a commitment from governments that this budget support you give is going to go to these designated agricultural sector areas?
AJ: Well budget support works on the basis of reform matrices. In other words we agree with our partner governments on what needs to be carried out, on what reform needs to take place in a specific sector, in order to get the best possible outcomes, and money, the budget support funds are dispersed when achievements are registered. So certainly the funds are conditional on reform taking place and improvements in people's livelihoods being registered. We are not about to track every cent that we pay but we are keen to make sure that the funds do go towards, say, better outcomes for people in the sectors we are working with. We are already providing budget support in the energy sector in Tonga, a programme that is working well. We are working in Samoa and the Cook Islands in water and sanitation, and the budget support programmes there are working effectively, and we would like to do the same thing in the agriculture sector. But we do need to have a convincing, a robust strategy for agriculture established by our partner countries, and we need to work within that framework.
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