17 May 2002

Fiji's Auditor-General says MPs are ripping off the taxpayer

9:33 am on 17 May 2002

The Fiji Audior-General's Office says parliamentarians lead the pack of dishonest people in the country.

The Fiji Times reports that the Office has called for the immediate review of emoluments paid to parliamentarians saying the group is the worst of all when it comes to abuse of taxpayers' money.

The director of the Auditor-General's Office, Bhipendra Prasad, says parliamentarians work around the rules and regulations to fill their pockets, but nothing can be done unless new legislation is formulated to stop it.

Mr Prasad says it would be difficult for legislators to change or refine these rules because they expect a luxurious lifestyle once they reach such positions.

Among the abuses noted is 20 per cent of the prime minister's salary paid as a lifetime pension to the five-minute prime minister, Ratu Tevita Momoedonu.

Also included is the payment of salaries by former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, to his wife and daughter under provisions where it is allowed to employ staff.

Parliamentarians living in or close to Suva have also been claiming travel from their remote constituencies and accomdation allowances.

As well, there is the daily allowance paid to each member of six 13-member parliamentary sector committees which meet when the House is not in session and numerous other benfits paid to MPs.