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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 8, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A conference on economic reform in the Pacific Islands region has found that differences in the economic, social and cultural characteristics of island countries have to be respected, and their constraints recognized in designing reform.

The conference on prioritizing and sequencing fiscal policy and reform in small Pacific Island countries (PICs) concluded that, given the various constraints PICs face, their reform agendas must be designed simply, and must focus on a limited number of priority objectives.

The conference found that closer cooperation between island countries and their development partners -- and better coordination of financial and technical assistance in support of reform -- can contribute significantly to successful reform implementation.

Stronger regional cohesion and cooperation -- as well as an intensified exchange of ideas and experiences -- and a close coordination of reform initiatives in PICs are highly desirable, participants concluded.

They also said that fiscal policy and reform remain at the center of economic, financial and social policies in the Pacific Island countries, and to be successful, the reform process has to be carefully prioritized and sequenced.

Economic ministers and senior government officials directly involved in implementing economic reform in Pacific Island countries attended the three-day conference in Apia, Samoa last week. It was organized by the International Monetary Fund's regional office for Asia and the Pacific, and, the Fiji-based Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center

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