"You have failed!"
September 29, 2021
NFP Leader tells Local Government Minister
“You have failed”
The National Federation Party firmly believes the current Fiji First Government, through the Local Government Minister’s micro-management of municipalities, has entrenched nepotism, cronyism and lack of adherence to transparent financial practices in the 12 town and city councils.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said it is clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the military, Bainimarama and Fiji First Governments’ dictatorial decision to trash democracy in municipalities in favour of Special Administrators of their own liking and choice, have miserably failed.
“ And for a month now, even the un-elected administrators are missing after they completed their contracts. The Councils find themselves in a corner in terms of upholding financial transparency as one of the signatories at any given time was the Administrator together with the council’s CEO, replacing the Mayor and the CEO”.
“The difference is that prior to the dissolution of all Councils in 2009, the Mayor as representative of ratepayers and citizens, signed and co-signed cheques for payments made by each Council”.
“A CEO/ Town Clerk of any municipality cannot alone sign a cheque under the Local Government Act. The Local Government Minister and her acting permanent secretary should reveal whether this advice has been conveyed to the ministry as a legal opinion from the Office of the Solicitor- General”.
“So who is the main signatory in the absence of Administrators?”
“There is no law authorising the CEO or any member of the management to sign cheques and disburse hard-earned monies of ratepayers and other sources”.
“Where is transparency and accountability”.
“It is therefore not surprising that the Auditor-General has pointed out lack of transparency and irregularities in previous OAG reports following scrutiny of financial practices of most Councils.”
But now with no elected Council nor Special Administrators, the last shreds of sound financial management practices have been thrown out the window”.
“For all intents and purposes, Councils will be totally micro-managed by the Local Government Ministry.”
“That is why during the September sitting week pf parliament, we had called for an holistic inquiry into the operations and ,management of all municipalities and determine the effectiveness of service delivery to ratepayers and citizens in each of the 12 municipalities”.
“This motion didn’t reach the floor of parliament, along with many other critical issues that we wanted to raise”.
“In the absence of any constructive debate and decision making on the floor of Parliament, micro-management of Councils has taken a stranglehold in all municipalities with the respective CEOs acting on directions of the Minister and her acting permanent secretary”.
“Therefore, this government and its two Local Government Ministers since resumption of parliamentary democracy in October 2014, have failed miserably to give power back to ratepayers and citizens, in order for them to hold their elected representatives to account”.
“The question is why? Doesn’t government want to see transparency and accountability in municipal councils? Why micro-manage through their failed experiment of Special Administrators?”
“We say to Fiji First – stop being a control freak government for the rest of your term”.
“Government must now restore this fundamental democratic right of ratepayers and citizens to choose their municipal representatives through the ballot box”.