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War Museum Was Considered: Cawaru

War Museum Was Considered: Cawaru
Permanent Secretary for Defence and National Security Osea Cawaru. Photo: Parliament of Fiji
May 18
11:46 2017

The former residence for  the Speakers of Parliament at Veiuto had been considered to become a National War Memorial Museum.

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee heard this during the Ministry of National Security and Defence submission on the 2015 Auditor-General Report at Parliament yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Defence and National Security Osea Cawaru said the residence was considered for renovations to serve that purpose.

He was asked by the Public Accounts Committee about the tender process of the proposed museum.

The committee was also informed that the project had been put on hold, following a directive from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Mr Cawaru said around $105,000 was allocated for the project.

He said the ministry managed to obtain a waiver of tender from the Ministry of Economy for the Republic of Fiji Military Forces engineers to handle the construction works.

However, he said around September that year the RFMF sub-contracted the project to A Naidu Buildings.

SODELPA MP, Ratu Sela Nanovo then asked why the RFMF handed the project to the building company.

This after realising they couldn’t carry out the construction works when they should have been referred to the Ministry of Economy, he said.

In response, Mr Cawaru said they didn’t know that RFMF was committed to other major projects which were around $6.068 million.

“Ours was around $150,000. So what I suspected was that ours was just one of the smaller projects so it wasn’t in their priority list,” he said.

The understanding, Mr Cawaru said, was that the construction company was a recognised sub-contractor for the RFMF.

Ministry of Economy official, Ashneel Prasad then told the committee that under the procurement regulation the construction company was part of the panel of contractors job for RFMF.

He said that was the reason RFMF awarded the construction job to them.

Ratu Sela said if RFMF did not allow outstanding work to other construction companies then it would likely end up in nepotism or corruption which on the other hand was unfair to other construction companies.

Mr Prasad also agreed with the MPs on the issues they raised stating when the waiver approval was given to RFMF they shouldn’t have sub-contracted the project.

The panel of contractors, he added had been taken away by the Government after 2015.

Mr Prasad said Government had taken away the panel of contractors because of high risk of the selection by ministries or departments with their favoured construction companies.

However the construction company, he added had already started with the procurement of building materials and initial construction works.

In response, Mr Cawaru said they had to compensate for the construction company through their operating funds.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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