Suva, Fiji – The Government of Japan today signed a USD$5.2m agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which will allow its current parliamentary development work to be scaled up and replicated to support six Pacific Parliaments.
The Strengthening Legislatures in Pacific Island Countries Project will run from 2018 for three years.
The programme will allow UNDP to provide new support to the Parliaments of Samoa, Republic of Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia, and significantly scale up ongoing support to the Parliaments of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
As one of the recipients for the project and in delivering her welcome remarks, the Honourable Speaker for the Fiji Parliament, Dr Jiko Luveni was excited about the prospects this would have for the Fiji Parliament as well as its Secretariat staff.
“We are very grateful to the Government of Japan for this support,” said Hon. Luveni.
“Our Honourable Members and our Parliament staff have benefited greatly from previous and existing partnerships with UNDP and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and again, Japan.”
“This has allowed our Honourable Members to build their capacity in examining, dissecting and appropriately addressing national development issues from the broad regional and global context, facilitated through south-south exchanges and technical expertise.”
The focus of the programme will include capacity building for Legislators and Parliament staff, support to build the capacity and effectiveness of Parliament Committees and activities to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the work of the Parliaments.
“We are delighted to sign this agreement with UNDP today,” said Embassy of Japan Charge d’ Affaires ad interim, Mr. Tsuguyoshi Hada.
“The Government of Japan provided funding to UNDP to support the Fiji Parliament in 2014-2017, and we are now able to announce that we will not only provide funding to UNDP’s project of support to the Fiji Parliament but also assistance to five other Pacific Parliaments.”
He added, “Japan recognises the important role that Parliaments play in the Pacific through being enablers for development. Legislatures in the Pacific need to be supported in undertaking their important roles.”
An additional key focus area within the programme will be technical assistance and activities to improve the budget scrutiny and financial oversight role of Parliaments.
“Today’s agreement with the Government of Japan will allow us to substantially scale up the support to six Pacific Parliaments, namely Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu,” said the Country Director and Head of Pacific Regional Programme and Policy for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Bakhodir Burkhanov.
“Japan has been a key supporter of UNDP’s governance work in the Pacific countries – and in Fiji particularly – having supported the first phase of the Fiji Parliament Support Project, and currently supporting the REACH project that helps provide access to government services for many Fijians across this country.”
“This strengthened collaboration comes at a moment when Parliaments and Legislatures in the Pacific and globally have started acting on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which is also at the very core of UNDP’s action worldwide.”
He added, “this provides a welcome opportunity to work on exchanges of good practices between Parliaments in the Pacific. A key ethos of UNDP is to promote development through cooperation and knowledge-sharing between countries. We call it “south-south cooperation” and this approach lies at the very heart of this project.”
“Building on the success of our past and ongoing partnership in Fiji and with support from other partners, we look forward to working together over the next three years for the benefit of Pacific Islanders across our region. It needs to provide effective oversight of government policy and development progress. Parliaments take the final decisions on national budget allocations and play a central role in scrutinising whether national funds have been spent effectively and correctly.”
The project titled, Strengthening Legislators Capacity in the Pacific Island Countries, seeks to provide support to Parliaments to become more effective and efficient through strengthening the work of their committees related to legislation and oversight, especially with regards to key development issues, building the capacities of legislators and professionalism of staff and improving the budget process and financial oversight capacity of the legislatures.
To achieve the aims of developing well-functioning modern Parliaments, the project will primarily focus on capacity development of parliamentary actors, including MPs and secretariat staff.