The BSG is established by the Financial Secretary and endorsed by the Minister of Finance, providing support in assessing the business plans and proposed budgets of the various Government agencies and Pa Enua Island Administrations.
Its aim is to ensure value for the Government’s funds and alignment with national priorities in the NSDP and the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, while promoting fairness, transparency and accountability in the distribution of funds within the Budget.
Membership of the BSG provides an excellent development opportunity for future leaders within the Cook Islands government civil service.
It provides a Government-wide view of the Budget process, and an opportunity to consider the business plans of each agency against the priorities of the government and the needs of the community, thereby understanding their competing needs and priorities, and how the nation’s Budget must be apportioned to achieve the best outcome for the whole of the Cook Islands.
A BSG orientation workshop introduced the Budget process, including the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy. The MTFS is a new fiscal planning and budget process adopted by MFEM to strengthen the Government’s strategic focus of its expenditure and tax decisions by incorporating a more robust medium-term perspective.
This is complemented by the Medium-Term Expenditure ceilings (MTEC) for each agency that will guide the 2019-2023 medium-term Budget. This way, the agencies are given an indication of the funds available to them for the coming Budget year, and the following three years.
The BSG members include policy directors and managers from key agencies:
• Myra Patai (Public Service Commission),
• Valentino Wichman (Office of the Prime Minister),
• Karla Eggelton (Cook Islands Tourism),
• Angelique Elisaia (Corrective Services) and
• Takili Tairi (Ministry of Agriculture).
Myra Patai is a policy and planning manager and will be acting as cairman of the Budget Support Group for the 2019/20 Budget process. Valentino Wichman has been a member of the BSG for two years and brings additional policy and planning experience to the group.
New members of the BSG are Angelique Elisaia, who brings experience in the Law and Order sector, a focus of the upcoming Budget cycle.
Karla Eggelton brings tourism experience and an ability to consider the needs of the Cook Islands’ largest industry. And finally Takili Tairi from Atiu with an agriculture background, providing consideration of the needs of the Pa Enua and another important element of Cook Islands society.
The BSG supports the overall Budget process by working with the Ministry of Finance’s Budget team (Rufina Teulilo and Kai Berlick, led by Angelia Williams) and Economics team (Marise Noovao, Yuliya Chynnyk and Ian Hayes, led by Natalie Cooke), by both providing additional and contrasting views, and by challenging the assumptions made by the Central Agencies, and the Ministers of the various agencies.