The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat’s 2024 Work Programme and Budget was endorsed by the MSG Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) following the conclusion of the Governing Body meetings in Port Vila, Vanuatu last week.

The 2024 Budget represented a surplus budget.

The FMM sat to deliberate on recommendations put forward to it by the preceding Budget Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) which was convened at the MSG Secretariat.

In his opening remarks, the Chair of FMM,Johnny Koanapo Rasou , Acting Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade of Vanuatu expressed his appreciation to Members for their commitment towards the convening of the meeting, saying it demonstrated the shared visions and values for Melanesian solidarity and the recognition of the MSG’s collective efforts to strengthening the fabrics that binds the Group together.

He reminded the meeting that the MSG was established to encourage subregional diplomacy and friendly relations, maintain peace and harmony, encourage free trade, economic and technical cooperation, promote social cohesion through sports cooperation and to promote and protect our Melanesian traditions, cultures and identity.

On behalf of the Vanuatu Government, the Chair conveyed his appreciation to the MSG Member Governments for their support to the UN’s resolution on Vanuatu’s ICJ initiative which overwhelmingly received the UN’s support to seek the opinion of the World’s highest international Court to rule on the obligations of countries to address Climate Change.

Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Leonard Louma, thanked the FMM Chair and the MSG Ministers for their ongoing support to the work of the Secretariat.

He then updated the FMM on Secretariat’s activities, including the agenda items that were discussed during the SOM Budget meeting.

Lenora Qereqeretabua, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Fiji, said the presence of the FMM demonstrated its commitment to uphold Melanesian solidarity and unity which has allowed the MSG family to file its joint submission on climate change which was deposited with the ICJ on 22nd March at the Hague, adding that as a sub region, the MSG family can address the needs and aspirations of the Melanesian People.

Patrick Jomessy, Representative of the FLNKS Political Bureau, said that MSG’s support towards the emancipation of the Kanak people continues to give FLNKS hope and courage to pursue the process of decolonisation in order to reach its main political objective which is to build an independent nation in Melanesia and the Pacific.

Justin Tkatchenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea reiterated that the MSG, being a sub-set of Pacific Regionalism makes it an important player in Pacific regionalism so that MSG can be a region of opportunity.

Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands acknowledged the leadership of Director General Louma in ensuring that the MSG Secretariat is currently in good financial health with greater visibility.

Similar sentiments were shared by Richard Balkonan, Head of the Asia Pacific Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu, who commended DG Louma’s leadership in producing a surplus budget, indicating increased operational effectiveness, staffing and visibility of the MSG Secretariat.

The FMM also approved the Secretariat’s proposed new Structure; the Corporate Plan 2022-2025, its review and the review of the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All Plan; and the Calendar of Events with amendments, among other items.

The Pre-Summit SOM, Pre-Summit FMM and MSG Special Leaders’ Summit will be held in Nadi on 20-23 August where the official handover of the MSG Chairmanship will take place.