November 11, 2020

Understanding budget process is our accountability to the people

Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) through the Public Finance Management (PFM) project hopes to simplify the national budget process to enable people’s participation in a country’s development.

PIANGO Executive Director, Emeline Ilolahia, while launching the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) PFM Wellbeing and Livelihoods in Fiji’s Post Covid-19 report, at the Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa on November 7, said it’s crucial to empower citizen and civil society organisations to understand the budget process and generate data to reflect issues that are the everyday struggle of our communities to ensure that the allocation of the budget is directly to those exact issues identified from the communities.

PIANGO Executive Director Emeline Ilolahia  addressing the members of Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) at the launch of the Public Finance, Wellbeing ad Livelihoods in Fiji’s Post Covid 19.

In Fiji, the PFM project supported FCOSS to undertake a People’s Livelihood Survey was able to analyze the economic impact of COVID-19 and TC Harold on households using the Livelihood Analysis Framework and further contextualized by the iTaukei ‘Sautu’ concept.

According to Ilolahia, using Sautu as a concept for the report inculcates how people access resources through our relational approach which is couched in the iTaukei values such as ‘veirairaici’ (looking out for one another) or veilomani (love one another) during a disaster to ensure the resilience and well-being of our community.

The survey highlighted that 75 percent households had their income impacted with lacking cope of strategies in place and 60 percent of households had no existing strategy with low levels of community awareness around government initiatives.

Ms Ilolahia said, FCOSS through its District Council of Social Services (DCOSSES) while undertaking the research demonstrated their capacities in CSO coordination, raising critical questions, documenting stories shared with emotions in a time when it seemed all hopes gone.

This has resulted in FCOSS submitting their positions to the Fiji government Supplementary Budget and the National budget based on the priorities from their findings.

“The PFM project will ensure that people’s priorities are reflected in the national budget and the vulnerable communities will be covered by ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently to allow people to strategise and contribute to their future whilst at the same time ensure accountability in the management of public resources,” Ms Ilolahia said.

“Launching of the ‘Sautu’ report during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of FCOSS last week is significant to demonstrate that while we empower our communities to participate in the national budget process, we do demonstrate accountability and transparency to our constituencies in our practice’, Ms Ilolahia said.

As a civil society organization as development actors in our own rights, she urged FCOSS to forge great partnership so that they can better serve their constituents.