October 18, 2021
A cash-strapped patchwork government
“This is a cash-strapped patchwork government that has heaped a debt level of 97% to GDP on the people of Fiji inclusive of total borrowings and contingency liabilities”.
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad made the comment following a recent public statement by the Government that tight control on expenditure led to the under-spending of $485 million in the 2020-21 Budget.
“Who is the government trying to fool?” asked the NFP Leader
He said under-spending simply means the Fiji First government’s years of “wastage, pilferage and mismanagement” of taxpayers’ funds has led to a state of decay of public infrastructure and the health and medical services because government “has no money” to fund projects outlined in its annual budgets.
“For example, if one looks at the 4th Quarter Appropriation Statement, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and Fiji Roads Authority received significantly less funding than that allocated in the 2020-21 budget from 1st August 2020 to 31st July 2021”.
“The Health Ministry was allocated over $394 million in the 2020-21 budget. But it only spent almost $349 million, $45 million less than budgeted. Lack of basic medication, shortage of basic medical supplies and delay in the provision of subsidised dialysis were almost the daily norm throughout the last financial year”.
“The FRA budget was almost $349 million but FRA spent only $277 million, $72 million less than budgeted. Nobody needs to be reminded of pot-holed filled roads resembling craters on the moon”.
“And it is worth recalling what the Minister responsible for Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu said in response to a question by NFP MP and Vice-President Lenora Qereqeretabua on 26th March this year on when rehabilitation grants would be provided to victims of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa and TC Ana and the Minister’s reply was “I do not know”.
“Of course this was almost a month before the outbreak of the 2nd wave of Covid-19. The Minister’s answer of not knowing when and if help would be provided to victims of two cyclones renders meaningless the government’s claim that under-spending in the last budget was a result of tight control on expenditure”.
“Government should stop kidding and for once tell the truth that it was and is scraping the bottom the barrel and unable to make significant improvements or rehabilitate infrastructure and the health and medical services”.
“Government is fooling no one but themselves by providing such ridiculous reasons”.