Fiji Labour Party calls for more government transparency
Fiji Labour Party calls for Government to be transparent following UN's Anti-Corruption day.
The Fiji Labour Party says the regime is showing it has something to hide by continually refusing to disclose government financial statements or its leaders' salaries.
The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry used Monday's UN sponsored Anti-Corruption Day to highlight what he says is the failure of the Fiji regime to rid the country of corruption.
Amelia Langford reports.
Mahendra Chaudhry says government financial statements and the auditor-general's reports have not been made public for the past five years. He also says the regime will not reveal the salaries paid to its leaders, which he says could be in excess of US$700,000 a year.
MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY: There is not enough information concerning how the government spends the money. The accounts are not published, nor are the auditor general's reports published. Because they have something to hide. If they're clean, they'll disclose that. And of course the taxpayer is entitled to know what the people who are running the country are getting, because they're the ones who are paying.
Mahendra Chaudhry says there is an absence of Freedom of Information legislation and a Code of Ethics for people in high office, despite promises to enact such measures. He says the regime demands accountability and transparency from everyone else, but is not applying the same rules of good governance itself. He says the situation has got worse since the coup seven years ago.
MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY: The question now is whether we are today living in a less corrupt society and what difference has the military regime made. The answer to all those questions are in the negative. Corruption is probably at its highest compared to any other previous administration.
Transparency International Fiji says it cannot comment because there have been no specific complaints made about lack of transparency over leaders' salaries or government financial records. It says it is not the organisation's role to investigate such matters, but rather to promote a Fiji free of corruption. But a pro-democracy campaigner in Fiji, Laisa Digitaki Weleilakeba, is backing Mr Chaudhry's calls for the Government to be more transparent.
LAISA DIGITAKI WELEILAKEBA: Transparency is very important to make people feel good like for me personally I don't mind the Government spending money on good things as long as they are honest about where they are paying my taxes and things like that then I am comfortable but right now nothing like that has happened so what are they hiding?
The Fiji Government has not responded to the criticism or explained why leaders' salaries, government financial statements and auditor-general reports are not made public. Earlier this year, in January, the attorney general, said he and the interim prime minister were not officials of a political party and therefore not obliged to divulge their pay. Later, in April, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said he would disclose his pay in July, but in July, he said their pay would be made public after the constitution was finalised.
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