Senior policy and planning advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister Miimetua Nimerota said the goal was to develop better plans and budgets, and to learn from past lessons and challenges.
The purpose of the meeting was also to build upon the success of the 2016 Heads of Ministries (HoM’s) retreat with a focus on four key areas:
• To re-evaluate the medium term budget framework (budget policy priorities 2017-2020)
• To discuss sector-based approach to planning, prioritisation and budgeting
• To discuss the public sector strengthening strategy 2016-2025
• To improve collaboration, communication between island governments and HoMs
The retreat is an annual workshop held in October of each year and attended by HoMs and their delegated staff. The participants engage in discussions around strategic policy and fiscal issues, budgeting and priority-setting in the lead-up to the budget process.
The 2016 HoM’s retreat focused on medium-term budgeting (setting budget policy priorities over the next five years), and public service human resource issues; including recruitment, remuneration, and retention.
The intended outcome of the retreat was for better cooperation between agencies, a medium-term financial strategy, improved planning and balanced funding priorities in line with public needs.
The PSLC forum also aimed to tackle issues of quality business plans, budget proposals and developing a logical approach to infrastructure project proposals, said Nimerota.
Engaging with the Pa Enua has become more critical as the last few years have demonstrated a fragmented approach from the public sector when it comes to planning and budgeting. Including the executive officers and finance officers from the Pa Enua will help to mitigate and lessen this disconnect. Additionally, this approach provides an opportunity for the Pa Enua and the ministries to openly share and understand the priority-setting process, improve coordination and collaboration in planning and budgeting.
Central agencies need to respond to this through practical engagement and demonstrating what is required for effective planning, coordination and collaboration within the development of business plans and proposals, added Nimerota. The central agencies, ICI and CIIC, recommend appropriate training to executive officers and their respective finance officers in understanding the Pa Enua funding model, business planning, budget proposal development, asset management, design and scheduling works over the medium term.
This was also an opportunity for the Rarotonga-based agencies to hear first-hand the frustration, dissatisfaction and disconnection experienced by the Pa Enua during this critical planning and development phase.
The two-day conference and seven-day training programme was developed by a working group made up of Charlene Hoff, Milly Tamariki, Merita Wi Kaitaia and Ngarangi Teio and Staff from the Office of the Public Service Commissioner.