Acting Prime Minister of the Cook Islands welcomes Peer Review Team

Rarotonga, Cook Islands, Monday 22nd October 2012?? Over the next two weeks, the government of Cooks Islands will be opening up its national planning, budgeting, public and financial management systems for their Peer Review team to assess.

At the invitation of the Government of Cook Islands, the Peer Review team includes regional development officials who will be holding consultations with key political leaders, government ministries, development partners, non- governmental organizations and private sector representatives in the Cook Islands.

?The work that this Peer Review team will embark on emanates from the Forum Compact that Forum Leaders agreed to in 2009. The Peer Reviews allows Forum Island Countries to take stock of current strengths and challenges in processes and systems of national priority setting, resource allocation and service delivery. The ultimate aim is to improve the delivery of development programmes and services to Pacific citizens to improve development outcomes. This in turns allows the Forum Secretariat to report annually to leaders as mandated by them on the effectiveness of national development planning and budgeting processes of Forum Island Countries,? explained Mr. Feleti Teo, Deputy Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

The Review team includes Mr, Richard Hipa from Niue, Mr Collin Tavi from Vanuatu, Mr Henry Ah Ching from Samoa and Ms. Solitice Middleby from Australia.

?By inviting your Pacific neighbors to undertake this Peer Review of your national planning, budgeting, public and financial management systems, Cook Islands is demonstrating commitment to transparency, accountability and engaging in regional initiatives for the benefit of your people and the Pacific region,? mentioned Mr Teo.

The Acting Prime Minister of the Cook Island and Minister of Finance, Honorable Brown noted that two of Cook Islands senior officials Ms Elizabeth Wright Koteka (Chief of Staff) and Ms Dallas Young (Director International Development) previously served on the Nauru and the Republic of the Marshall Islands Peer Reviews. ?This Peer Review process is part of the Pacific?s South-South arrangement to build Pacific capacities in development coordination and allow sharing of ideas and collaboration between peers in the finance and planning ministries in the region,? mentioned Hon. Mark Brown.

Mr Hipa, the Secretary of Government from Niue noted how the peer review of Niue in 2011 by officals from Nauru, Samoa and Australia had allowed his government and national stakeholders to re-look at their systems from a whole of country macro view. ?Our peer review allowed us to confirm what is working well in our systems and also what needs to improve and change. This was very helpful and we have now implemented most of our peer review recommendations?.

Mr Ah Ching, the Assistance CEO of Finance from Samoa thanked the government of the Cook Islands for inviting the government of Samoa to be part of their peer review and looked forward to also hosting the Cook Islands Secretary of Finance in Samoa for the Samoa peer review in November 2013.

For the first time as well, the Cook Islands government is inviting the Government of the People?s Republic of China from the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand to observe the peer review process. ?China is an important partner for the Cook Islands and the region and we think this process provides them with a greater understanding and awareness of our processes as well as gives us a better understanding of their processes so we can improve delivery of development assistance,? added Hon. Brown.

Cook Islands is the 12th country in the region to undertake the Forum Compact peer review process after Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Niue, RMI, Tonga, PNG, Palau, Solomon Islands.

FORUM SECRETARIAT