PRESS STATEMENT - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - Public auditing standards in three Smaller Island States have been given a significant boost.

Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu have reported positive progress one year into the Sub-Regional Audit Support (SAS) Programme.

Auditors-General from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu and development partners met this week in Suva, Fiji, to discuss progress, challenges and a way forward for the SAS Programme.

"The SAS Programme is the first of its kind in the region," explained Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

"It aims to increase public auditing capacity in Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu to uniformly high standards.

"This will in turn contribute to good governance through improved accountability and efficiency in providing audit scrutiny and oversight over the use of public resources of these three countries," Mr Slade added.

The SAS Programme was setup under the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative (PRAI) which is a priority in the Pacific Plan. The initiative was endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005 and subsequently supported by Forum Economic Ministers. It seeks to strengthen regional support to audit services within the region to improve integrity and financial scrutiny.

"We are greatly encouraged by the results from the first year of the SAS Programme, and look forward to further tangible in-country results during future stages of the initiative," said Executive Director of the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI), Mr Eroni Vatuloka.

The SAS Programme's first year covered both training and fieldwork experience for civil servants and State Owned Enterprise (SOE) staff in Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru.

"A key element in this project's success is to ensure that there are local champions to see continuation of the project in absence of the SAS team," said SAS Programme coordinator, Mr Alex George.

Mr George and SAS Audit Expert, Ms Beulah Daunakamakama, spent the last year coordinating the implementation of the SAS Programme in Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.

Auditors-General welcomed the SAS Programme, also highlighting the need for a sustainable approach to public auditing capacity building.

"Overall I saw an improvement in our office following the assistance of the SAS Programme, even when the SAS team departed" said the Auditor-General of Tuvalu, and Chairperson of the SAS Committee, Mr Isaako Kine. "We greatly welcome closer and longer association with the Programme. Sustainability will be a crucial element in mapping out a way forward."

The Pacific Regional Audit Initiative was developed under the guidance of the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI), with support from ADB and AusAID, under the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat's co-ordination, given the interest of Forum Leaders on good governance, as articulated in the Pacific Plan.