23 Dec 2011

Tonga capital city investigation gets more teeth with select committee established

12:45 pm on 23 December 2011

Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, says investigations into the Nuku'alofa Development Corporation will now be conducted by a parliamentary select committee.

The Corporation was set up to oversee the rebuilding of the capital after the 2006 riots but the government has raised concerns about its work and how a loan provided by China has been spent.

Two opposition MPs, Akilisi Pohiva and Sitiveni Halapua, were tasked with investigating but found key figures refused to appear before it.

This prompted an emergency meeting of parliament this week and Mr Vaipulu says it was agreed to set up a select committee, giving the MPs the power to summon people.

"So to become a select committee they can use the rules and procedures of the House and if anyone refuses they can then use Clause 70 of the Constitution [under] which they can make a motion to Parliament to put those who refuse 30 days in prison or a fine of five thousand pa'anga."

Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu