21 Sep 2017

Tongan governor says he did no wrong in development spend

3:06 pm on 21 September 2017

The Governor of Tonga's Ha'apai island group says the allocation of funds for the outer islands needs to be reviewed.

An Auditor-General's report has found Mo'ale Finau acted inappropriately by spending over $US70,000 meant for a community development fund.

However, Mr Finau said he had asked the then finance minister 'Aisake Eke to assign the money directly to him because in the past the fund had not been used for the development of the islands.

"The Chairman of the Ha'apai Development Committee halved the money between the two representatives and there is nothing done in Ha'apai. Money is meant to be used for development of Ha'apai, so I asked him [Eke], why don't just allocate that fund not to the Ministry of Internal Affairs which can give the funds to the committee but to allocate the funds to the Governor's office."

He said the money was spent entirely on work for the public.

"I have all the right to use it in the development of Ha'apai. Nobody takes his money in his pocket or anything. We are using the money to develop and beautify the villages and build mini grandstand at the main playground in Ha'apai and we build fences along the road. That is the type of development we are doing. Widening the side of the road and mowing the lawn and so forth."

Mo'ale Finau said he had no idea what the Ha'apai MPs used previous funding for.

The construction costs reportedly also exceeded the Ministry of Finance's threshold which requires projects to be processed through its procurement division.