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Kiribati’s Public Account Committee Members Gear Up For Playing A More Effective Role In Increasing Transparency

Speaker of Kiribati Parliament, Honourable Tangariki Reete (first from left), with Chair and Members of the Public Accounts Committee during the workshop. Photo: Kiribati Parliament.

Members of Kiribati Parliament’s Public Accounts committee completed a two-day induction training workshop on 11 March 2021. The workshop was designed to equip the members with tools to play a more effective oversight of government’s expenditure.

Following the house elections last year, the Kiribati parliament appointed a three-member Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as per its Constitution. To better play their role of scrutinising government expenditure, Parliament requested the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to organise the induction for the Committee.

“My office is very supportive of the request by the PAC Chairman and its members as I am confident this exclusive workshop will be more focused and hence more productive. It will allow our PAC members the opportunity to concentrate and center their discussions on the fundamental roles and responsibilities of their Committee,” said the Speaker of the Kiribati House of Assembly, Honourable Madam Tangariki Reete, while speaking at the opening session of the workshop.

She added that the workshop was conducted to provide better support to our PAC members to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.

“I have no doubt that at the end of this induction, the PAC members will have a broader understanding on their important roles of managing public finance, following recommendations put forward by the Auditor General, advocating for public sector financial accountability and over sighting financial overseers,” said Hon. Reete.

She appreciated the opportunity PAC members had for learning and exchanging ideas with fellow Pacific regional parliaments such as Fiji, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Australia during the workshop.

Addressing the workshop virtually, UNDP Pacific Office’s Resident Representative Mr Levan Bouadze said, “The Public Accounts Committee's work, in the context of Kiribati, is far more significant. As you know, Kiribati Parliament only has three standing committees. Unlike other parliaments, it does not have standing committees that hold each ministry or department accountable, including checking their expenditures. In the absence of such committees, practically speaking, the Public Accounts Committee has a more substantial role to ensure the Parliament's oversight over the government, even if it's limited to expenditures only.”

His Excellency Paul Wallis, the New Zealand High Commissioner to Kiribati, also addressed the workshop. “The workshop was organised by UNDP through New Zealand supported Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI) Project, which aims to increase transparency and accountability of the government institutions,” he said.

He added, “Ensuring transparency and accountability will reinforce integrity and enhance the trust of citizens in government, which is the underpinning tenet of the social contract”.

Besides PPEI project, the workshop was supported by UNDP’s European Union funded Strengthening of Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific (PFM) Project. The project aims to strengthen oversight over public financial management in the Pacific region, through improving the budgetary scrutiny, public financial oversight and accountability capacities of parliaments, supreme audit institutions and civil society within the region.

PAC members appreciated the opportunity of receiving the high-quality training and thanked UNDP, the Government of New Zealand and the European Union for their support.

Speaking during the closing of the workshop, Chair of the Public Account Committee of the Parliament of Kiribati Honourable Taunei Marea said, “The workshop was highly relevant to the work of Public Accounts Committee. We gathered many insights on the role and mandate of the committee’s work and these will help us further improve our work.”

He added, “The interaction with New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu parliaments provided us valuable inputs and we will use them in our Committee’s work. We are grateful to UNDP and its two donors the Government of New Zealand and the European Union for providing us this opportunity.”

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