CSOs ability to analyse budgets recognised

Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga raises a point at the CSO budget briefing. Picture: SUPPLIED

MORE than 90 representatives from civil society organisations gathered in Suva for the second CSO budget briefing.

The event – organised by the Fiji Parliament and the UNDP – is in recognition of the importance of budget transparency and the role of civil society’s ability to analyse budgets and effectively participate in the national budget process.

Fiji’s Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni in her opening address noted the importance of providing information to citizens on the role of Parliament in discussing and approving the budget, as well as providing information on the content of the budget.

“One of the roles of the national legislature is to ensure that information on the budget is made accessible to the public and CSOs in a meaningful way,” Dr Luveni said.

“We are very much aware that strengthening CSOs ability to analyse budgets and participate effectively can play an integral role, not only in policies and service delivery but also in constructing a more open and participatory democracy.”

The Fiji Parliament was able to benefit from a team of parliament researchers from New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Solomon Islands and Tonga through the ‘Floating Budget Analysis Office’ initiative in creating sector briefings that have been developed for Members of Parliament to help inform budget debates.

New Zealand high commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said budget transparency was an important element of democracy around the world.

He said the ‘Floating Budget Analysis Office initiative was an excellent example of regional information exchange and knowledge sharing, and a real credit to Fiji’s Parliamentary team that they were now in a position to be providing those opportunities to other Pacific island countries.

“CSOs have important roles to play in the scrutiny of budget figures when announced, and in the oversight of budget implementation,” Mr Curr was quoted saying in a statement from Parliament.