The Core Group met at the Radisson Hotel, Denarau Island, Fiji, 15-17 June 2016. The objectives of the meeting were to:

  1. Share peer experiences and learning
  2. Use a planning and evaluation framework to create a vision for the value of the PaNPAC network
  3. Plan and start the next steps for preparing a PaNPAC network meeting in Q4 2016

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PaNPAC Core Group Participants, 15-17 June, Fiji




MEETING DOCUMENTS











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THE CLINICS


Clinic 1 - Work planning

- Hon. Alexander David O'Connor, Fiji

Work planning is effective for other committees as well - like the Foreign Affairs Committee.

PACs should strive for effectiveness in conducting effective meetings, as they require follow-through.

The Work Plan needs to ensure that the meeting can achieve the intended outcomes and results. Key issues:
- defining the process of the meetings
- objectives and intended results
- sending agenda in advance
- sending in timely manner meetings of previous meetings
- timely outreach to TV, media, social media

Public hearings - important mechanisms for public accountability. Public hearings also needs good planning, with particular attention on the legitimacy of the reports.

Developing a plan with a clear agenda for conducting the meeting is critical.

Challenge: When planning for and conducting effective public hearings, a major challenge to keep in mind is the availability of resources.

What can be done to improve the work planning?

- the literacy level of the financial documents to be improved through more workshops for MPs
- continuing education and professional development
- developing a media strategy, so that the committee can engage more with the media

Key takeaways:
- continuous professional development of members: training, guest speakers etc.

Clinic 2 - Ex-ante and ex-post reviews

- Secretary Silivia Atiola, Tonga

Ex-ante and ex-post review are part of the oversight process, in relation of the national budget. Before the event & after the fact.

Before the event: what actions need to be taken. Estimated are requited by law to be submitted to Parliament, usually 30 days before the end of the financial year. In practice, the estimates are submitted only a week or two before debate.

The estimates were never referred to the PAC for review - the words of the Standing Orders mention 'may refer'. After some training, this year the estimates were submitted to the house the last week of April with the help of the AG and the Minister of Finance - now the members have a more increased understanding to what is being debated.

After the event: it''s the parliament's job to oversee how the money is spend. But, in most cases there has been a backlog of the ministers, the annual report, and in some cases the Auditor's report. This is an issue that needs to be resolved.

Provisions vs. Prohibitions in Standing Orders - being innovative without breaking Standing Orders.

Key takeaways:

- hold consultations before the budget is finalized
- when the standing order is silent, there's leeway to be innovative

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Clinic 3 - Supporting PAC operations

- Hon. Ratu Sela V. Nanovo, Fiji

Obstacles that need to be addressed for PAC operations to run smoothly:

  1. Independence - it should not take advice from other bodies to carry out its tasks. The legislative branch needs to be independent, because that's where the PAC also stands - this interference can come to the PAC if the legislative is not independent. First, this is unlawful - the executive should not interfere with the legislative's independence. Second, it kills the spirit and morale of the Committee. Third, the PAC would lose its direction. The current PAC chair was pressured from the line Minister, and they had to change the Standing Orders to give the chairmanship to the Government - the Chair had to resign. A shift away from the tradition where the chairmanship of the PAC was given to the opposition.
  2. Standing Orders - the procedures laid by the Gov't through the SOs should be adhered to at all times. When the Chairman is away, the deputies should take over. At the moment, the PAC Chair is overseas, and the work is holding off till his return - the Deputy should be able to step in because this creates a backlog within the system.
  3. Funding - at the moment, its not clearly allocated equally with all the committees. The work-plan needs to be tagged to the allocated budget at a timely manner - this does not happen, and the team does not complete its tasks in a timely manner. Because of the delays created, the Parliament itself does not fulfill it's functions.

Advice from other members:

- Protect the independence and integrity of the committee, regardless of the arguments of who is chairing the committee.
- Engage in performance audits, to assess the value for money

Clinic 4 - Government accounting system

- Hon.Lord Vaea, Tonga

A financial system of accounting includes what have you got, how well have you spend it, and if the spending was worth it. You also have an amount of time to sufficiently spent your amount of money from one financial year to the other - however, the seasonal challenges in the financial year need to be taken into account. Do small island countries have good accounting systems? Issues of the last 10 years in Tonga:

1. overseers investment - more tan 50% of Tonga's investment is foreign
2. climate change
3. retention of gov't employees have decreased - youth and high migration from the islands

A big challenge has been the a high NCD rate of death in the islands. Pension age is also very high.

An accounting system based on an oral society, that doesn't live in a western society, survives on small island land and sea, needs to be strengthened. Remittances are critical, seasonal workers and returning systems are also an important part of the system.

Challenge: how do you buy in a true and realistic gov't accounting system for a small island?

Moving from cash based to accrual system of accounting. The PAC has recommended an accrual system - the Parliament passed a report from the PAC recommendation, but the gov't has not responded yet. Solomon Islands uses a cash-based system as well - only the Minister of Finance knows the finances of a country. Another challenge is moving to electronic payments from the cash-based system.

The PAC can have a bigger role in pushing the gov't by defining the questions that they want to ask and then define the best ways to ask those questions.

Clinic 5 - Follow-up on Committee Recommendations

- Hon. Jeremiah Manele, Solomon Islands

The PAC in the Solomon Islands produces good reports for the Parliament to debate with the aim of holding the gov't accountable in terms of using public funds.

However, the actual implementation of these recommendations remain a challenge. There are issues of capacity contains in the public service. The gov't doesn't consider the PACs recommendation on the budget estimates.

What can the PAC do to make the gov't seriously consider the PAC considerations in getting the best value for money?
What can the PAC Chair and the committee do to?
How can the PAC push the AG's office to ensure more gov't compliance.
Should audit offices to have the power to prosecute? What would be PAC's role in pushing for this?
What can networks such as PanPAC do to assist?

The PAC needs to have a media strategy to disseminate its reports and recommendations and ensure follow-up.

Global good practice suggests that the AG's office and the PAC should not prosecute.

Key takeaways:
- Establish a 30-day time-frame for the government to respond
- The need for a robust PAC to think out of the box to see where the loopholes are


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Clinic 6 - Defining and assessing good governance

- Hon. Ezekiel Massatt, Bougainville

Many issues as a result of the Autonomy Declaration. Referendum to be held June 15, 2019. - issues of weapons disposal, fiscal reliance and good governance need to be tackled prior the referendum.

The good governance aspect is the most difficult of the issues. Now that the date has been set, this is now not an academic exercise anymore. There must be people attending to issues of good governance - the responsibility falls on both the national and the Bougainville governments.

The PAC has tried to provide some systematic changes regardless what the outcome of the referendum might be. Weather they want to be independent or an autonomous region of PNG, some standards must stand.

the standard by which Bougainville will be judge has been set in the peace agreement, adhering to international standards. There are a lot of issues to be discussed, including the AG's office, the Ombudsman, the Public Defender's Office, Public Prosecutor's Office etc.

Key questions: (1) Identifying what the good standards are, (2) identifying where we are against those standards

What are the regulations at local level for spending money? Are there any? Are they effective? Are they a reflection of good governance.

Areas the PAC covers that members want to see standards:


PRIORITIES

Core Group meeting

  • Operationalising PACs
  • Effectiveness
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Small islands
  • Independence
  • Types of audit

Network

The Core Group identified a range of possible priorities for the next work over the period until 2019:
  • Government accounting induction
  • Developing work plans
  • Standardizing work planning
  • Community of secretariats
  • Standing orders
  • Financial literacy
  • Record management
  • PaNPAC Board
  • Regional workshops
  • Pre-budget consultations
  • CDF oversight
  • Media strategies
  • Performance audits
  • PBOs
  • Peer support
  • PAC resourcing
  • Effective cooperation
  • Capacity building
  • Regional standardization
  • Partnerships for development
  • Peer review

After much consideration, it was decided that the six most important priorities were:
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2016 ANNUAL MEETING


Timeline


  • Beginning of July: Dates Confirmed
  • Beginning of August: First draft agenda circulated
  • Beginning of September: Issue official invitations by PAC Chair of Solomon Islands


Coordination:


World Bank Parliamentary Strengthening Cluster will take charge of the coordination, alongside UNDP and CPA and the Solomon Islands.

Guest speakers


- Ministry of Finance speaker
- Host speaker
- Governance indicators expert
- SPC/PF media

Subjects / priorities:


- Pre-budget consultation (making it effective)
- Public inquiries (how to choose)
- Standardization / base-lining (Tax Gap Analysis, how to move forward)
- Government indicators (what are they in the Pacific and are we there?)
- Performance audits (identifying appropriate subjects, current experience, analysis)

Structure


- Start/end of day: 09:00 - 16:00 / 1 hour lunch
- Official opening
- Clinics sessions
- parallel sessions for secretaries

Overall organization


- Duration: 3 days
- Venue: Honiara, Solomon Islands
- Size of Official Delegations: Chair, +1 Member, +1 Secretary (average, to be adjusted based on the size of the jurisdictions)
- Gender balance: encourage the gender balance



What is the added value?


- set the standards for its members
- peer support and exchange of knowledge
- forum for allowing members to review progress
- forum for work planning for the network

What is the vision for the network?


- the network needs to encourage value for money
- to achieve its ultimate goal of having Strong and Effective Pacific PACs
- slogan for the annual meeting to reflect the ultimate goal:
- enhance the faith in public institutions
- develop robust PACs in the region
- making PACs more effective and making them more connected to the citizens
"To Be or Not to PAC?!"

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Voting priorities for the next three years

Key Stakeholders:


- SAI
- Minister of Finance
- Media
- Principal financial officers
- Central Bank, Reserve Bank
- the public (either individually or through community organizations

Priorities from 2015 Annual meeting

- committee hearings/meetings
- institutional memory
- relationship with the AG
- Relationship with other stakeholders
- integrated budget processes
- PAC Mandate


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Hon. Ezekiel Massatt, PAC Chair, Bougainville House of Representatives
"Measuring where we are at the moment, and where we intend to be. We need to go back and practicalise some of the issues discussed in this forum, especially the administrative issues."


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Pacific PAC members breaking down the AG-PAC relationship




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Lord Vaea, Public Accounts & Finance Standing Committee, House of Lords Tongatapu 1, Parliament: Tonga


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Unpacking the Comparative Analysis of Pacific PACs



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CORE GROUP

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Name: Hon. Ezekiel Massatt
Title: Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Bougainville House of Representatives
Work Phone: +675 973 9056
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Name: Hon. Isabel Peta
Title: Deputy Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Bougainville House of Representatives
Work Phone: +675 7256 9491
E-mail Address: isabel.peta@gmail.com
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Name: Douglas Pisi
Title: Secretary, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Bougainville House of Representatives
Work Phone: +675 973 9056 / + 675 717 00913
E-mail Address:douglaspisi@gmail.com
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Name: Hon. Alexander David O'Connor
Title: Member of Parliament, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Fiji
Work Phone: +679 322 5648
E-mail Address: alex.oconnor.origin@gmail.com
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Name:Hon. Ratu Sela V. Nanovo
Title: Member of Parliament, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Fiji
Work Phone: +679 322 5652
E-mail Address: snanovo@gmail.com
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Name: Kalo Takape
Title: Principal Assistant Secretary (Committees)
Parliament: Fiji
Work Phone:+679 322 5600
E-mail Address: ktakape@parliament.gov.fj
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Name: Hon. Paki Taufitu
Title: Member of Parliament, Public Accounts Committee
Parliament: Niue
Work Phone:+ 683 7202
E-mail Address: tanyahopokigi@gmail.com
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Name: Hon. Jeremiah Manele
Title: Leader of Opposition & Member of Public Accounts Committee, The Bills and Legislation Committee, The Parliamentary House Committee
Parliament: Solomon Islands National Parliament
Work Phone: +677 74 96 363
E-mail Address: jeremiah.manele@parliament.gov.sl
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Name: Lord Vaea
Title: Public Accounts & Finance Standing Committee, House of Lords Tongatapu 1
Parliament: Tonga
Work Phone: +676 24340 / 24455
E-mail Address: albertvaea@gmail.com
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Name: Silivia Atiola
Title: Secretary, Public Accounts & Finance Standing Committee
Parliament: Tonga
Work Phone: +676 23565
E-mail Address: viaatiola@gmail.com
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Name: Nanise Saune
Title: Project Manager
Organization: UNDP
E-mail Address: nanise.saune@undp.org
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Name: Niall Johnston
Title: Coordinator for Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific Regions and the Commonwealth, Parliamentary Strengthening Cluster
Organization: World Bank Group
Work Phone: +44 7808 724574
Skype: nialljohnston
E-mail Address: ajohnston@worldbank.org
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Name: Ermal Vila
Title: Governance Consultant, Parliamentary Strengthening Cluster
Organization: World Bank Group
Work Phone: +1 202 499 9741
Skype: ermal.vila
E-mail Address: evila@worldbank.org
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Name: Arlene Bussette
Title: Assistant Director of Programmes
Organization: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Work Phone: +44 20 7799 1460
E-mail Address: arlene@cpahq.org


GN-PBO

Access the Global Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers (GN-PBO) here

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