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Natapei calls the plan ‘sensible tool’ in Pacific

PORT VILA (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 29, 2008) – Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei told Forum Economic Ministers Meeting participants yesterday that a development agenda based on Pacific Plan priorities is a sensible tool for keeping the region focused on outcomes of regional forums and planning.

Natapei said what Pacific Islands Forum member countries must be careful of is that regional forums and planning do not become a substitute for action.

"The Pacific Plan makes a significant contribution to helping the region improve in areas of our strategic goals of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security. It promotes and protects cultural identity but at the same time looks to strengthen regional cooperation and integration. This provides a useful regional context: we can take collective action where we will all benefit from doing so, but at the same time, determine our own national goals and priorities and work towards them. What we must be careful of is that our regional forums and planning do not become a substitute for action.

[PIR editor’s note: The Pacific Plan, approved by Pacific Island Forum leaders in the year 2000, is a blueprint for sustainable political and economic development in the Pacific region. The plan is meant to strengthen cooperation and shared resources among developing nations of the Pacific.]

"I believe a development agenda based around the Pacific Plan priorities is a sensible tool for keeping us focused on outcomes. In this context, I am also pleased to note that the economic aspects of the Pacific Plan, in particular, have found a ‘home’ in FEMM and these issues again will be topics of debate and action again at your meetings here. There are challenging issues on your meeting agenda like labour mobility, economic regulation, financial sector supervision and regional audit service, which require your bold, innovative and strategic wisdom in considering these matters. They all require vision— a vision aligned to that laid by the Forum Leaders for the benefit of our regions peoples," Prime Minister Natapei said.

He then urged the Economic Ministers to share in this vision and make some difficult, ‘beyond the box’ decisions today for the common benefit of the region.

The Prime Minister stated, "We are only stronger as a region, if we work together, as one region- and the Pacific Plan provides the legitimate basis for this in order to build towards the Leaders vision for our region".

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