Pacific island countries need credible and robust Public Finance Management (PFM) systems

BY JARED KOLI, Journalism Student, University of the South Pacific.

26 June 2019, Sigatoka, Fiji – Pacific island countries need to have credible and robust Public Finance Management (PFM) systems to meet climate finance fiduciary requirements.

Deutsche Gesellschaft fur International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – Climate and Finance Public Finance Management Adviser, Mr ‘Aholotu Palu stressed that national climate finance mechanisms in Pacific Island states need further improvement, engagement and coordination with line ministries to augment institutional strengthening.

“For your country to directly access climate change funds, it requires your PFM system and processes in place to be credible and robust. You must have a PFM Act that is very transparent and accountable. You must have an oversight institution in place like internal audit, external audit and procurement. These key features within your Public Finance Management systems are required to be credible and robust so that the funds can be channeled through directly to your country,” Mr Palu said in an interview. 

Speaking during the Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Finance meeting currently underway at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort in Sigatoka, Fiji, Mr. Palu said that it is unfortunate the Pacific’s accessibility to climate finance is still inadequate.

“The completed Climate Change Disaster Risk Finance (CCDRF) assessments also showed that to achieve an economy-wide transformation, climate actions need to be integrated into the whole PFM system, particularly the planning and budgeting processes and to the oversight governance institutions, which includes Monitoring & Evaluation and project management.

“This resonates with the objectives of the development and adoption of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), under the Blue Pacific narratives, which is a high level strategic guidance to different stakeholders on how to enhance resilience to climate change and disasters,” he said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and GIZ Climate Finance Readiness for the Pacific (CFRP) Project published a has which consolidated and validated  PFM issues faced in the Pacific Island countries and identified key areas needed to be reformed in a recent report.

The key reform areas suggested in the report are similar in many Pacific Island states including Fiji, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The key PFM reforms needed to be considered immediately include; (a) integrating priorities into budget and coding system, (b) developing a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure performance against desired results, (c) strengthening of cash flow, development fund management, internal control and internal audit, (d) developing asset and project management process, guidelines and framework; and (e) strengthening procurement by establishing an independent appeals body and recording database for transparency processes.

The Regional Climate Finance meeting is jointly organised by the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), GIZ, and Griffith University, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Australian DFAT. It concludes this Friday.

Mr Jared Koli’s attendance at the Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Finance meetings was facilitated by Pacific iCLIM: Supporting the Regional Management of Climate Change Information in the Pacific and the Institutional Strengthening for Pacific island countries to Adapt to Climate Change (ISACC) projects. The Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Finance meetings and media training held from 25 – 27 June 2019 in Sigatoka, Fiji is supported by the SPC, PIFS, SPREP, GIZ, USAID and Australian Department for Foreign Affairs & Trade