Maurata review prompts Pacific Forum to revitalize regionalism

Matangi Tonga Online:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

The Pacific Islands Forum announced intentions by Pacific leaders to revitalize regionalism under the 2005 Pacific Plan after a recent review by Sir Mekere Maurata stated that progress had been very limited.

The report (the Pacific Plan Review 2013) by former PNG Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Maurata stated that “The Pacific Plan needs to be reimagined as a journey towards deeper regional integration. It is not simply a set of initiatives aimed at delivering more efficient and effective services. It needs to be recast as a project, grounded in a shared culture and approach, aimed at constructing a common polity. This is a political project that must be driven by Forum Leaders, and it is this that the current Plan, and processes associated with it, have lost sight of.”

According to Maurata “The regional project has stalled in recent years. Progress has been very limited – partly because some of the key economic integration issues have proved much more difficult to resolve than anticipated. A critical post-review challenge will be to reverse this trend and build momentum and confidence in the new Framework. To this end, the Review believes that there is a need to identify some quick wins in areas that are valued by all Pacific islanders as a signal that regional integration is alive and well.”

Some of the review’s recommendations that were endorsed by Pacific representatives included: “Agreed that the Pacific Plan is a framework specifically for advancing Pacific regionalism, not a regional development nor a funding plan”, “Endorsed the re-casting of the Plan as the Framework for Pacific Regionalism” and “Agreed that the particular needs of Smaller Island States (SIS) will form an integral part of the assessment and prioritisation process for future regional initiatives.” 

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