Investigated for helping the people
Friday 16th October 2020
Fiji’s politics have now become completely absurd. The Supervisor of Elections now wants me to be investigated for donating money for Cyclone Winston relief.
In 2016 all of Fiji’s Parliamentarians voted to increase their Parliamentary allowances. Only NFP’s Parliamentarians voted against it.
We refused to accept the increase and it was given to the NFP Relief and Welfare Fund. We also asked the Parliament Secretariat to divert a portion of our salaries to the NFP Relief and Welfare Fund bank account.
In 2016 $2,352 came to that account from my salary. In 2017 the amount was $18,816. Hon Prem Singh also contributed to the account from his salary and allowances.
The NFP Relief and Welfare Fund made donations exceeding $27,000 between 2016 and 2017, purely from the contributions of salaries and allowances.
The Parliament Secretariat did not process any payments into that fund until the end of 2016. But people needed support immediately. So I advanced personal funds – and NFP also agreed to advance party funds – for the purpose of the Relief and Welfare Fund, to be reconciled later.
Now the Supervisor of Elections is claiming that the money I put into the Relief and Welfare Fund are “donations” to NFP which exceed $10,000.
In our 2016 and 2017 accounts, the Relief and Welfare Fund was consolidated by our auditors with our party operations. We still have the bank account but it is now used for different purposes.
We have asked our new auditors for guidance on these matters, including if in our accounts we need to separate the two funds.
We never thought the day would come when we would be investigated for trying to help people after Cyclone Winston and providing relief and welfare assistance . But this is political life in Fiji now.
Professor Biman Prasad