Vanuatu is part of more than 50 civil society organization (CSO) representatives and illustrators from Fiji, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea are on their way to being experts as they proceed into the second phase of the ‘Almost Experts’ mentorship program that will be virtually launched today, 13th of October 2021 at 11a.m. (Fiji Time).

The programme is provided by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) through the Strengthening of Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific Project (PFM Project).

The second phase of the mentorship program will focus on developing budget submissions with the aim of influencing the prioritization of public funds. As part of the launch, a panel of experts from government, civil society and illustrators will share experiences and expectations in relation to budget submissions.

The capacity of CSOs varies widely in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), and in many countries, capacity development support is required to enable CSOs to develop skills both in terms of gathering and focusing citizen perspectives, and in analyzing budgetary and financial management to input into national budgetary processes. Through the second phase of the mentorship program, the PFM project will stimulate discourse among all those involved and how fiscal transparency and citizen engagement can be encouraged, how citizens can be made more aware of how their public resources are being used, and how these measures can stimulate more open societies.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to learn the processes involved in learning how government allocates public funds. As a young person, it is even more critical to have this knowledge so that we can understand the role we play in ensuring accountability in the use of public money. I am now looking forward to learning more about influencing the priority setting of government through the formulation of proper budget submissions,” said Deffnie Thompson from the Vanuatu Youth Council.

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