Media Release - The Forum Economic Ministers have strongly emphasized the importance of the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination in the Pacific to better coordinate and harmonise aid management in the region.

The Cairns Compact was among issues discussed at the Forum Economic Ministers' meeting (FEMM) 2009 held in the Cook Islands, 27 - 28 October.

In the Forum Economic Action Plan 2009 released at the end of the meeting, FEMM welcomed the Forum Leaders decision "to bring new determination and an invigorated commitment to lift the economic and development performance through the Cairns Compact."

Speaking in support of the FEMM Action Plan, Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade emphasized that the Compact recognizes the need for stronger coordination of development assistance after evidence shows that despite increased development aid assistance to the region, development progress has been rather slow.

Mr Slade added: "Forum Leaders endorsed the Cairns Compact during their meeting in Cairns in August to drive more effective coordination of available development resources from both Forum Island countries (FICs) and all development partners, centered on the aim of achieving real progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)."

Mr Slade noted that one of the key decisions taken by the FEMM 2009 was that the Ministers endorsed the need to urgently develop the "road map" which Leaders have instructed in the Compact, aimed at progressive strengthening of FICs public finance management, including expenditure management, revenue, procurement, accountability and monitoring systems. This is in order to raise the effectiveness of these mechanisms to enhance the delivery of development processes.

The Forum Secretary General added that building capacity among the FICs for sound public finance management has been a main area of focus for FEMM which was why the FEMM adopted the Eight Principles of Accountability.

The Economic Ministers directed the Forum Secretariat to work with relevant development partners, particularly the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) to develop the road map in consultation with FICs and other development partners. The road map is to be presented at next year's FEMM as one of the practical measures to give effect to a new development Compact for the Pacific.

The Ministers agreed that the peer review process under the Compact should enhance countries capacity to coordinate resources, improve outcomes and hold development partners accountable for their commitments. The peer review process should build on existing national processes.

FEMM 2009 agreed that the Cairns Compact be a standing agenda item at their future meetings.