On 30 January 2020, a formal ceremony in Suva, the capital of Fiji, marked the official opening of the Focal Point for the Pacific Island Countries of the International Social Security Association (ISSA). As host of the Focal Point Office, the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) will support the ISSA activities in the region.
For the first time in the 93 years of history of the ISSA, there is a regional structure fully dedicated to the specific needs and priorities of the Pacific island countries in terms of developing excellence in social security administration. The Focal Point will play an important role in a region with large distances, working with ISSA member organizations and other social security institutions in 16 countries, notably Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
The ISSA President, Professor Joachim Breuer, was honoured to take part in the official opening of the Focal Point and to have the opportunity to meet and speak with key stakeholders in the region. “We are grateful towards the Fiji National Provident for its willingness to be the ears and hands of the ISSA in the Pacific. With this Focal Point in Fiji, the social security institutions in the region will have better access to ISSA knowledge, capacity-building and other services”, said President Breuer.
During the opening event, Ms Makereta Konrote, Permanent Secretary for the Economy, highlighted that in terms of commitment to improving social security coverage, progress in administrative excellence and recognition of the value of learning from each other, there is no better place for the ISSA Focal Point office than FNPF. President Breuer also held discussions with Mr Jaoji Koroi, CEO of FNPF, and with Ms Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation. The latter discussions focussed on initiatives to advance gender equality in social security in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The two also discussed concrete developments and challenges for Fiji, such as the effects of cyclone Winston in 2016, a major test for the country’s social security system.
Before reaching Fiji, President Breuer visited Samoa, where he met with the Prime Minister, Mr Susuga Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Minister Finance, Mr Sili Epa Tuioti, as well as the CEO of Samoa National Provident Fund (SNPF), Mr Pauli Prince Suhren, and SNPF board members. These meetings demonstrated the remarkable developments in social security in Samoa over recent decades. The country has successfully focused on traditional approaches mixed with modern programmes to build its approach.