Journalists learn about budget reporting

Participants at the workshop. Photo: Charley Sikal

A workshop conducted yesterday (Thursday) aims to improve the knowledge of journalists in Vanuatu in covering budget and government finances.

Former Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Pacific Correspondent and former Radio Australia Economic and Business Reporter, Jemima Garrett, who facilitated the one-day workshop said journalists must fully understand the budget document before interpreting it to the public.

"The budgets are usually thick documents and are complicated. With no experience in finance, journalists need training to transform the words and thoughts of economists into a simple language. 

"The journalist’s role is to explain what is in the budget and how it is spent. 

"It's not easy when hear the Finance Minister read the budget speech in parliament. It's not easy to understand exactly what it will mean for people on ground; businesses, small farmers, women and young people," she said.

Garret said a journalist has an important role as a conduit between the people and the government.

A journalist explains what the government is doing and what the people are experiencing or their needs to the rest of the community including the government, she said.

"Often the only people who can talk about the budget are the people in business, finance official and economists with very good view points.

"However, the public would want to hear the viewpoints of women, children, young people and rural farmers. The voices of these people needed to be included in the debate.

 "The media needs to engage the community in the budget process as it is vital to the way democracy works," she added.

Topics that were covered in the workshop includes jargon and figures, checks on balances on government spending, finance watchdog and establishing business contacts.

The workshop also heard panel discussions from government, business and economic experts.

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