Partnering to improve macroeconomic forecasting and long-term fiscal planning

SUVA, FIJI (15 December 2014) ? Officials from Ministries of Finance and Central Banks in the Pacific joined with experts from the Asian Development Bank, the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (International Monetary Fund), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and the University of the South Pacific?s Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration in Suva, Fiji to build capacity and develop models to inform economic and fiscal policy making in the region.

Delegations of government economists and budget analysts from Cook Islands, Fiji, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu took part in the workshops which concluded last week.

Participating countries face a wide range of internal and external fiscal pressures stemming from, for example, regular public service wage increase demands, taking on new debt, planned decreases in aid, natural resource depletion, exposure to climate change and more frequent extreme climate events, and demographic trends that impact on education, health or pension systems. The workshop provided participants with basic tools to assess the long-term fiscal impacts of ongoing and proposed policies.

?The workshops represented an important step in building stronger linkages between different government offices involved in economic and fiscal policy formulation within and across Pacific countries, and promoted development partner coordination in this field. This, together with improved technical skills in economic forecasting and fiscal planning, will contribute to a more informed policy dialogue and, hopefully, sound, fiscally-sustainable decision making in represented countries?, says Christopher Edmonds, Senior Economist at the Asian Development Bank?s Pacific regional department and Project Officer for the Pacific Economic Management Technical Assistance project.

?The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for the participants to share experiences on the major challenges that they face in addressing long-run fiscal planning needs, which vary greatly across countries in the region,? says Doug Hostland, consultant for the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre.? ?The hands-on exercises based on real-world examples and informal group discussions helped develop a peer-to-peer learning network, which shows promise of a lasting impact on the capacity building process.?

?The Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration considers its support for the two workshops, jointly conducted with other partners, to be a core element of its engagement with Pacific Island Countries which has yielded positive feedback from the participants? says Siosiua Utoikamanu, Director of the Centre at USP.

?The Forum Secretariat is pleased to have worked with the Asian Development Bank, the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre and the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration to assist effective collaboration in delivering the two workshops,? says Shiu Raj, Director Economic Governance Programme of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. ?This initiative of four regional and international agencies working together to deliver the workshops is in the spirit of genuine and sustainable partnership among technical agencies.?

The organisations involved in the workshops have expressed interest in continuing their collaboration next year, and beyond, as an important part of broader efforts to assist Pacific countries strengthen their capacity to adjust to the long run fiscal challenges they face.

For further information contact Diane Abad-Vergara, Communications Adviser at The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat dianeav@forumsec.org

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