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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pacific Island Countries stand to loose from too much overseas travel for meetings: Fiji Academic

Pacific Island countries have become weakened in their ability to make independent decisions, brain storm and strategies because their best bureaucrats are travelling most of the time, says University of Fiji Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra.

Professor Chandra said Pacific island countries suffer from "meetingitis".

Speaking at a two-day workshop in Beijing, China, on the growing relationship between China and the Pacific, Professor Chandra said there were simply too many meetings that did not allow officials to remain home, think strategically, and follow-up on their commitments.

He said many officials were afraid to speak their mind on major issues because it could mean a falling out with the major donors and organisations and therefore, missing out on future meetings.

Professor Chandra said "meetingitis" also meant that even when officials were in their home countries, they were being asked by international agencies to attend to requests for data and reports.

"If they are not doing this, they are reporting on their aid projects or having to meet consultants who have been brought in because the officials do not have the time in the first place to do these things but the consultants end up taking the time of the officials anyway.

"By not having the time and opportunity to brainstorm, these officials are often not asking the right questions so busy are they in finding answers to questions from other people," he said.

Professor Chandra said the inability of national officials to brainstorm, or to brainstorm without the representatives of donors or international agencies, was a serious problem because unless the Pacific Islands officials and leaders could devote time to these brainstorming sessions and believe more in their own competencies and solutions, there would not be organic solutions to Pacific island problems.

He said without these organic solutions "owned" by Pacific islanders themselves, there would always be disappointment by others at the performance of Pacific Island countries.

Source: Fiji Times

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