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[Pacific Plan Review 2013] RMI calls for improved relevance of Pacific Plan for Smaller Island States

PRESS STATEMENT 19/13

Thursday 9th May 2013

Resource

CAPTION: Heads of Government Departments at a consultation with the Pacific Plan Review team in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The day after celebrating their 34thConstitution Day, senior officials from the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) met with members of the Pacific Plan Review team to discuss RMI’s views on Pacific regionalism.

Mr. Redley Killion, country representative of the Federated States of Micronesia, led the Review team’s consultations in Majuro. He was supported by Robert Igara (Advisor to the Review Chair) and Dr NickPoletti (Review consultant). The team noted the special challenges faced by Smaller Island States such asRMI, and asked officials how the Pacific Plan related to their national endeavours.

“Our national priorities are education, health, and addressing climate change”, explained Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kino Kabua. “These priorities are also reflected in the regional agenda, but in the current Pacific Plan they are grouped in among the many other areas that governments across the region see as important – so they don’t get the specific focus we would like”.

This sentiment was echoed by local NGO and private sector representatives, and also at the highest level by President H.E. Christopher Loeak and his Ministers. Ministers raised further questions about the process for regional priority setting, suggesting that Smaller Island States did not always get adequate input. As a result, there were limits to the Pacific Plan’s relevance to them.

CAPTION: Republic of Marshall Islands President H.E. Christopher Loeak and Cabinet Ministers with Pacific Plan Review team members in Majuro.

Reflecting on their discussion, Mr. Killion noted that “there are some issues that can be dealt with at the national level by larger countries, but not by smaller countries with more limited resources.”

“Increased cooperation in providing key services could be a good option for Smaller Island States”, he proposed. “In the process of refreshing the Pacific Plan we need to consider this”.

The benefits experienced through cooperation under the Parties to the Nauru Agreement were identified as a good example of successful (sub) regional cooperation, with particular benefits for Smaller Island States, including RMI.

Members of the Pacific Plan Review are set to return to Majuro in September, when Review team Chair the Right Hon. Sir Mekere Morauta, KCMG, has been asked to report back to Pacific Forum Leaders at their annual meeting. In the meantime, the Review continues its consultation phase with meetings in Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and Fiji.

(Ends)

For further information and media enquiries please email PacificPlanMedia@forumsec.org.fj.

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