Abuse of taxpayers funds
15 June 2022
Get ready for a conga line
The people of Fiji should get ready to be visited by a conga line of cabinet ministers as they will embark on a widespread campaign using taxpayers’ funds under the pretext of implementing measures to be announced in the 2022-23 Budget, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said now that general elections will be held anytime until January next year, the next Budget provides the perfect excuse for Fiji First government Ministers to flout every campaign rule by using public funds to be on the campaign trail.
“They will try to justify this by claiming they are implementing budgetary measures and are on official duty when the truth will be the opposite”, the NFP Leader said.
“Fiji will witness abuse of taxpayers funds and State resources by the Fiji First government during the official campaign period of the forthcoming general elections because there are no laws on a government going into caretaker mode during an election period”.
“The Multinational Observer Group (MOG) after the 2018 elections emphasised the need for the government to go into caretaker mode after observing how Fiji First Ministers were opening projects, handing out funds and making major policy decisions even during the period of Writs of Elections”.
“Not surprisingly, the Fiji First government did not adopt this MOG recommendation when amending the Electoral Act in June last year for obvious reasons”.
“This government doesn’t like transparency and accountability. Apart from the absence of any laws on a government going into caretaker mode before elections, which is the normal practice in a genuine democracy, this government has avoided getting parliament to enact the Code of Conduct legislation despite first tabling it over 6 years ago in April 2016”.
“So this government is free to operate like business as usual and not be held to account”.
“And while people need any genuine help they can get, especially in terms of providing them relief from the extremely highly cost of living, especially food and medication, the government will undoubtedly use the budget to give hand-outs and freebies”.
“We even witnessed the distribution of garbage bins in 2014. 4 years later in 2018, it was water tanks with more likely on the way soon. Currently it is giving away compost bins!”
“It is the job of senior civil servants to implement measures announced by a government, especially in a Budget. Not Ministers, especially in an election year to uphold transparency and accountability to preserve electoral integrity”.
“We have therefore already seen the government electioneering. Every provincial council meeting is being addressed by the Prime Minister. After three years, ministers have emerged from their cocoon’s nest to parade themselves before the people”.
“So one doesn’t have to be Einstein to know what is coming as we draw nearer to elections”.
“Apart from the cosmetic change in law prohibiting ministers from using government vehicles for campaign, they are free to do as they like. They simply don’t care of the consequences to the nation and the economy”.
“We reiterate that these kind of laws makes the campaign platform an Animal Farm”.
“This is because Fiji First has no political morality and integrity. All it is interested in is remaining in power at any cost”.
“But no matter what this government does, it will be rejected by the people at the polls and confined to the political scrapheap because of their lack of empathy and compassion towards the people”.