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Cultivating Transparency In The Pacific

Pacific Media Watch

NADI: The Fiji and New Zealand chapters of the anti-corruption group, Transparency International (TI), jointly organised a conference for financiers and journalists from the Pacific Islands region on "Cultivating Transparency in the Pacific" at Nadi, Fiji, at the weekend.

The conference, funded by the World Bank, UNDP, New Zealand Government, Canadian Government and the British High Commission, was to give journalists and members of the region's financial community an opportunity to explain their professional needs and understand the needs of the others.

The conference allowed participants to identify improvements in private sector and public sector accounting and reporting procedures, which will increase transparency.

The following is a joint communiqué by the participants and organisers of the conference.

Cultivating Transparency in the Pacific

1. Corruption in the public and private sectors is a serious threat to the economic and social development of all Pacific Island communities.

2. The free Pacific Islands press has a vital role to play in creating a transparent decision-making environment that is fundamental to the prosperous and stable development of Pacific Island countries.

3. For the creation of this environment, there needs to be a free flow of financial information to press.

4. Participants call on the Pacific financial communities in the public and private sectors to be more open with the press.

5. Financial institutions should review their press and public information delivery policies and systems, if any, with a view of maximising the flow outflow of information to the media.

6. Participants recognise the present limited capabilities of many Pacific Island journalists and news organisations to adequately report financial news.

7. News organisations (in the Pacific region) have a responsibility to make training in financial and economic journalism an important priority as far as possible to develop a cadre of financial writers.

8. Financial institutions should accept responsibility to improve financial reporting standards by running background briefings, holding one-to-one meetings and engage in other forms of informal interaction with journalists to improve their knowledge and skills in financial and economic reporting.

9. Accountants, lawyers and other professionals concerned with the provision of financial services have an obligation to observe the highest professional standards.

10. Watchdog state institutions (Attorney General, Auditor General, Ombudsman etc) should be adequately funded and staffed and be able to report and act freely, and to enforce compliance with financial law and regulations.

11. Participants stress the importance of proper governance in the private sector by company directors and the administration and enforcement of company law by regulatory institutions.

12. Participants applaud the provision of resources to Pacific Island governments to enhance their fiscal and managerial capabilities with the assistance of such institutions as the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC).

13. Participants note with appreciation moves being made in the Pacific Islands region to improve national economic and financial sector management and provision by appropriate agencies of resources in support of this process; and in general efforts being made in the region to promote and improve transparency at all levels of Government.

14. Participants note the existence in the Pacific Islands of a considerable body of existing financial regulatory law and stress the importance of there being adequate capacity and the political will to enforce such law....PNS (ENDS)

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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