Richard Butler | Exclusive Report by RNZ NEWS | MAY 18th, 2023

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding a series of programmes to improve the quality of public agencies across the Pacific.

Last week, it was announced that the Pacific Community (SPC), funded by USAID, is to reform the Vanuatu Public Service.

A Pacific governance expert has commended the Vanuatu government for asking the regional organisation to help reform the country’s public service through the assistance of USAID.

SPC governance advisor Alifeleti Soakai praised Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau’s foresight in recognising the need for reform in such areas as human resource management, job descriptions etc.

“All the things that are accepted practice around the region and in Australia and New Zealand, and we just were happy to strengthen that in Vanuatu,” Soakai said.

“It is common knowledge that a strong, independent, apolitical, transparent public service is the foundation of good governance and sound, sensible, safe development,” he said.

Vanuatu Public Service Commission chair Martin Mahe said there was an urgent need to professionalise the public service.

The Port Moresby based development advisor for USAID Clay Epperson said their focus was on empowering people throughout the region.

Epperson said USAID will be spending $US19.8 million over five years on the project.

“It aims to strengthen sound and responsive government by increasing government transparency and supporting citizen engagement, and promoting human rights,” he said.

“It is working to empower the voice of citizens, particularly women, youth and other marginalised voices throughout the 12 Pacific Island countries, including Vanuatu.”