Anger in Fiji after Accounts Committee deferred
Anger in the Fiji opposition after the government stops the first meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.
The chair of the Fiji Public Accounts Committee says criticism of his chairmanship by Fiji First MPs is frivolous.
The first meeting of the Committee was to have happened this morning (WED) but it has been deferred after government MPs complained about Dr Biman Prasad, who heads the opposition National Federation Party.
He says the Public Accounts Committee is the only one that under parliamentary standing orders is chaired by an opposition MP.
Dr Prasad told Don Wiseman the government MPs are unhappy at comments he has been making concerning the series of recently released auditor general's reports.
BIMAN PRASAD: It's simply because the government members have raised an issue of me being the chair of the committee and the basis of that objection is on some of the comments I have made to the media before, and they feel that I should not have made those comments. However we in the opposition maintain that the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, as per the Constitution and the standing orders of Parliament and standing orders defining those committees has to be a member of the opposition. I have been nominated by the honorable leader of the opposition, and the honorable leader has just issued a statement saying that the opposition stands by the nomination. But I also want to reject the insinuation and the assertion by the government members that the comments I made to the media were unjustified, in fact the auditor general's report are public property, for the public and is already in the public domain, its on the website of the auditor general , and the media has been picking up on those issues from those reports, highlighting what the auditor general stated. My comments only relate to the processes and how the Public Accounts Committee was all set up and geared to scrutinising those reports, and the plans that we had. So really I think the objection by the government members and government is frivolous, it has no basis and the honorable leader of the opposition has written to the secretary general of parliament, she has herself issued a statement standing by her decision to nominate me as chair of the Public Accounts Committee and we hope that there will be good sense prevailing within the government ranks, we would be able to reconvene.
DW: Local media in Fiji has said that the referral of the meeting is due to issues raised by both sides of the house, that's not true as you say it.
BP: Well the opposition had no issues. It's the government members who said quite clearly that they objected to my being chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
DW: So it's just a matter of waiting for this secretary general.
BP: It is now a matter for the secretary general and the speaker of parliament to consider, the opposition leader has written to the secretary general already and she has made her stand very clear so we hope to hear from them soon.
DW: How important is it that these meetings get held promptly?
BP: Well it is absolutely important because the committee has a lot of work to do we are going to look at reports from 2007 right up to 2013 - these reports were not released in the last eight years and it is absolutely important that the committee begin it's work as soon as possible.
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