The 2015 steering committee meeting for the Pacific Finance Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) was held at the Rarotongan Resort and Spa with representatives from across the Pacific.
PFTAC is an office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), responsible for providing technical assistance and training to Pacific Island countries.
It is a collaborative venture between the IMF, the recipient countries and bilateral and multilateral donors such as New Zealand and Australia. Its guiding objective is improved economic management and sustainable economic growth across the Pacific Island countries.
It achieves this through responding rapidly and ‘flexibly’ to demand for high-quality technical assistance (TA) and training in improving countries’ macroeconomic management.
The centre serves 16 countries across the Pacific such as the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
PFTAC coordinator Scott Roger, who is based in Suva, Fiji, said the Cook Islands had proved it had a competent Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and staff.
“They are confident and know what they want, which makes our job a lot faster and easier,” he said.
He praised chief statistician Taggy Tangimetua for her confidence and focus on the support her department needed.
“Countries across the Pacific vary greatly. Many have less capacity than the Cook Islands and a lower level of staff and training.”
Issues and advice required by different countries varied, he said.
But last year in particular there had been many requests from Pacific countries for help with macroeconomic policies.
“Last year was an active political year in the Pacific so many countries had the opportunity for reform.”
Minister of Finance Mark Brown said the Cook Islands had benefited from the programme, with the implementation of seabed minerals, loan-repayment and tax reform policies.
“The programme is very effective because we always get timely, appropriate and independent advice whenever we ask for it,” he said.
Brown also said from a tourism perspective it was good to have a conference of this calibre in the Cook Islands.
Roger praised the Rarotongan for their excellent conference facilities.
“Representatives from every country are present except Timor-Leste, which just goes to show the pulling power of the Cook Islands,” he said.
The meeting will finish this afternoon.