At the 18th Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Honiara last week, the governments of Solomon Islands and Cook Islands took the opportunity to launch their Forum Compact Peer Review Reports.

The Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, congratulated the membership of the Pacific Islands Forum at the launch. “Within 4 years of making the commitment in Cairns to undertake peer reviews, all 13 Forum Island Countries that signed up to the Forum compact have lived up to those promises,” said Slade.

“This is indeed a key milestone in the region and a clear demonstration of political leadership and ownership at the highest levels. I congratulate the Governments of the Cook Islands and Solomon Islands for having completed their peer review processes. While this is a significant milestone, I understand that the hard work begins now towards implementing the recommendations of your peer review reports and I would like to reaffirm the Secretariat’s support in helping your governments undertake the next steps.”

Connelly Sandakabatu, Minister of National Planning and Aid Coordination of Solomon Islands said, “The peer review report offers practical recommendations based on comparable experiences in other FICs. Our report recognised the good planning frameworks and work on public financial management reforms in place. There is also call for our government to ensure there is sufficient capacity to actively manage and monitor the implementation of the National Development Strategy; strengthen coordination across central agencies of government and exert stronger ownership and leadership over donor coordination.”

Minister Sandakabatu thanked the Secretariat for facilitating the peer review process including the recent attachment of Solomon Islands senior officials in Samoa.

The Cook Islands Secretary of Finance, Richard Neves emphasised the importance of the approach to South-South cooperation under the Forum Compact amongst Pacific neighbours as well as engaging with China. “The peer review process not only allowed China to engage with other development partners but also take a closer look at the environment within which development aid is being delivered in the Cook Islands. As our Minister of Finance has noted, we are determined to have one of the best public financial management systems in the Pacific.” Mr Neves also thanked the Government of Samoa for inviting him and other Pacific colleagues in 2013 to be part of their review process.

The Forum Compact is a development initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders agreed at their annual meeting in Cairns, Australia in 2009. It aims to lift economic development and improve the lives of Pacific citizens through more effective and inclusive national governance, institutions, systems, policies and capacities. Peer reviews of national institutions, policies and systems is one of the compact initiatives. As of November 2010 all 13 Forum Island Countries that signed up to the Forum Compact in 2009 have completed peer reviews.