Apia, Samoa – The Legislative Assembly of Samoa is currently benefiting from a regional initiative called the Pacific Floating Budget Office. The initiative sees researchers from sister parliaments in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Federal Parliament (Canberra) of Australia working with the selected staff from the Office of the Clerk to produce independent research and analysis of the 2019 – 2020 National Budget for Members of Parliaments (MPs).
The focus of the Pacific Floating Budget Office is to promote good governance and improve fiscal transparency of the national budget through the provision of objective and transparent information to MPs on the National Budget and public policy.
Members of Parliament will receive a set of Budget Briefs that contains information on allocation trends, expenditure analysis, revenue streams as well as Sector priorities among others. The Budget Briefs have been produced for MPs to better inform debate on the budget and contribute to increased financial scrutiny in Parliament and the wider community. The budget will be debated in the Chamber from 18 June 2019.
The Speaker of the Samoan Legislative Assembly, Honourable Leaupepe Taimaaiono Toleafoa Faafisi, highlighted the importance of robust debates, which strengthen the Assembly’s ability to scrutinise the Budget and hold Government to account for the way it manages public resources.
“The Budget is the most important economic policy tool of Government and provides a comprehensive statement of the nation’s priorities. Therefore, Parliament as the representative of the people, is the appropriate place to ensure a system of checks and balances and that the Budget best matches the nation’s needs with available resources,” said Hon. Faafisi.
He added, “We are very grateful to the research team of the Pacific Floating Budget for assisting the Legislative Assembly of Samoa in producing these Briefs as they provide important information that MPs need to know and help them to ask the right questions when they are debating the National Budget.”
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), well-resourced parliamentary research services offer incalculable value as a source of independent, neutral and non-partisan analysis for MPs. This is particularly true when Parliament discuss the budget drafted by the executive; budgets are often complex and require in-depth technical expertise and knowledge in public finance.
The Resident Representative a.i. for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Samoa, Ram Iyer, echoed the sentiments of the Speaker and highlighted how the Pacific Floating Budget Office is an innovative approach, which is now being used by other Parliaments in the Pacific region.
“The Pacific Floating Budget Office has just been to the Legislative Assembly of Tonga and previously has also provided similar support to the Parliaments of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu,” said Iyer.
He added, “The Pacific Floating Budget Office is innovative because it creates a model that pools capacity and engages South-South cooperation (instead of traditional North-South development modality), and its successful implementation has meant that hundreds of MPs across the Pacific receive independent budget briefs before they vote on the national budgets.”
The international researchers are paired with local parliament staff working with parliamentary committees office and legal and research divisions. The National Budget was tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Samoa on 28 May 2019.
The activity is part of a programme of support by the Strengthening Legislatures Capacity in the Pacific Island Countries (SLIP) Project implemented by the UNDP with funding support from the Government of Japan.
For more information:
Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, Clerk, Office of the Clerk, the Legislative Assembly of Samoa, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: (685) 21811
Polataivao Manutagi Tiotio, Manager Institutional Strengthening & Sector Coordination Services, Legislative Assembly of Samoa. E: email@example.com, P: (685) 21811
Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Effective Governance Communications Associate, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. E: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: (679) 3227 552