Suva, Fiji – Vanuatu members of parliament participated in a briefing on the 2019 Supplementary Budget with the support of researchers from the Parliaments of Samoa, Australia and New Zealand through the development of Sector Budget Briefs.
Held on Wednesday, 12 June 2019, the MPs were provided with an overall analysis of the supplementary budget in an easy-to-understand information brief with the aim of equipping Members with the trends in revenue and spending which would help inform their deliberation of the National Budget which will take place next week.
The team of researchers are part of the Pacific Parliamentary Floating Budget Office which is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji. The Floating Budget office pairs international researchers with local parliament researchers who are assigned ministries’ draft budgets to work on.
The Speaker of the Parliament of Vanuatu, Honourable Esmon Saimon, highlighted the importance of well-informed debates as it strengthened the role of MPs on representation, oversight and scrutiny.
“Public Accounts oversight is one important channel available to all Members of Parliament to hold the Executive accountable and ensure openness and transparency in policy implementation,” said Hon. Saimon.
A Government backbencher Hon. Jerome Ludvaune added that “National budgets are not easy to understand especially for us members, as we have different backgrounds.”
“It is my view that the seminar workshop today has provided useful information that will help me and fellow Members of Parliament to understand the supplementary appropriation and also prepare us for the debate in the Chamber.” He added, “We now have some understanding on the figures and explanations contained in the supplementary document. I think the seminar today was a beneficial exercise.”
Echoing these sentiments, Opposition Member, Hon. William Tasso shared the impression that the information in the Briefs helped MPs get a better grasp of the data contained in the supplementary budget.
“I can say that it was a useful information sharing session for us leaders of Vanuatu to be able to ask the right questions and better represent our people during the debate next week. The presentations and accompanying documents prepared by the research team are useful and I thank everyone involved in its preparation.”
The Team Leader, Effective Governance Team with the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Dyfan Jones, highlighted that the Pacific Floating Budget Office is an innovative approach to help build the capacity of Pacific Parliament researchers and provide high level support to MPs.
“Providing MPs with detailed information on the budget in clear and easily digestible formats provides the background information required for robust and informed debate on the budget, which is in itself a crucial element of the oversight role of parliament and ensures a more open and transparent governance system,” said Jones.
“The Pacific Floating Budget Office is an innovative method of pooling together capacity and expertise from Pacific parliaments to ensure that MPs receive information and analysis of budgets before they take important financial decisions.”
This support to Vanuatu parliamentarians is made possible through three projects within UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, namely the Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific project funded by the European Union (EU), the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI Phase II) funded by the Government of New Zealand and the Strengthening Legislatures’ Capacity in the Pacific Islands Countries Project (SLIP) funded by the Government of Japan.
Since 2016, UNDP has been working with Parliaments in the Pacific to provide parliamentarians with more information and better independent analysis of the government’s budget and fiscal policies in order to facilitate a more balanced and better-informed discussion between the two branches. More information on the Floating Budget Office model can be found here.
The briefing will be followed in November 2019 by a full analytical review of the 2020 budget presented to the Vanuatu Parliament.
For more information contact:
Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Effective Governance – Communications Associate, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. E: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: (679) 3227 552