Allegations of abuse of Fiji taxpayer funds
Fiji's Public Accounts Committee tasked with scrutinising government spending over the last seven years will summon the heads of ministries to explain alleged widespread abuse of public funds.
Fiji's Public Accounts Committee tasked with scrutinising government spending over the last seven years will summon the heads of ministries to explain what it calls a widespread abuse of public funds.
Its chair, Biman Prasad, says the recently released Auditor General's Reports from 2007 to 2013 show a blatant disregard for financial procedures across almost every government department and ministry.
Dr Prasad says any cases of fraud, abuse of office or financial mismanagement will be referred to the appropriate authorities to deal with.
BIMAN PRASAD: It's abundantly clear that there has been widespread abuse of public funds and in some cases blatant disregard of fundamental financial procedures as highlighted by the Auditor General. I think one of the other important things is that the recommendations of the Auditor General seems to have been ignored by various government departments, and I think that is a cause for concern. So I think the committee has a difficult job, the Public Accounts Committee, but I am confident that we will be able to scrutinise these reports carefully. I also want to make reference to the Auditor General's Corporate Plan for 2012, which talks about outputs and targets for 2012. But we also find that there are some of the reports, as stated in the Corporate Plan, which should have been provided already, particularly reports on Municipal Councils, Provincial Councils and Statutory Authorities. These are still to be made available to us and hopefully they will be made available by the Auditor General to the Public Accounts Committee as soon as possible so we can start our work.
MARY BAINES: Which ministries or departments do you think have shown the most cause for concern?
BP: It appears to be right across a lot of the ministries and I haven't, I'm not going to get into any particular ministries as yet. But obviously, as I said, there appears to be a widespread cause for concern with respect to virtually every government department and ministry. So we will be picking up on some of those specific areas when the committee actually meets and sets out a work plan, and how we are going to start scrutinising each one of them.
MB: And when will that be?
BP: Well hopefully as soon as we sorted out the Secretariat, and it's probably within the next one or two weeks I guess when we are likely to have our first meeting.
MB: And you will be summoning the heads of those departments to talk your issues through?
BP: Yes, that's right, where appropriate, where we need more clarification, where we need more information, and where we feel it is appropriate to summon them we will do that. Let me also say that if the committee does find cases of fraud, abuse of office and mismanagement, then some of these will be referred to the appropriate authorities like the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and Public Services Commission and other authorities, which can deal with some of these issues.
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