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Analysis: Beware of Fake News

Analysis: Beware of Fake News
July 16
11:12 2018
  • This is the first of a 3-part series over this week by our Managing Editor News Jyoti Pratibha on  issues affecting voters.

Let’s talk about issues now. Let this elections be about issues.

Faceless and nameless keyboard warriors, apart from character assassination, have a panache for pulling figures out of thin air.

They don’t provide any source for their figures, they don’t need to because they cannot be held accountable.

But, when the named Opposition parties and their officials join the bandwagon of misinformation then it is a worry. In particular when it is not correct.

What is of concern is that Opposition Members from SODELPA to NFP have all been brandishing figures inside Parliament and on their campaign trail without giving or sharing the source of their statistics.

They not only don’t quote their sources. They go against credible and independent institutions such as the Reserve Bank of Fiji, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank, ANZ and other third-party entities. All of which have shown confidence in the Fijian economy, Government’s policies and FNPF.

The Opposition continue to not provide facts to back their claims. Most importantly they don’t provide any explanations.

What also makes it even more bewildering to the public is when instead of talking about policies and ideas for the future, Opposition members such as  Ro Teimumu Kepa and others start selectively highlighting per diem entitlements of the Prime Minister and others.

The fact is that per diems for anyone travelling overseas differ based on the country they visit. It sometimes differs from city to city and region to region. It is used to pay for meals and accommodation.

So, for example, the per diem for the city of London, where you pay for accommodation and meals in English pounds would be higher than say a per diem in Honiara or Nuku’alofa. Converting English Pounds or Euros to Fijian dollars would be high.

Of course, the per diem payable does not go in anyone’s pocket. It goes to pay the hotels and for other incidentals. We, of course, don’t expect our Prime Minister, Speaker and Members of Parliament to stay in a hole and eat a piece of bread for a meal.

What is disingenuous and pathetic about this type of issue is that it ignores the fact that the per diem and all allowances are now all clearly stated in law and there is no manipulation.

What the Opposition does not talk about is that previously there was no transparency since former prime ministers, ministers and others used to take an accountable advance. What is this? This was an unaccountable way of accounting for expenses.

Officials including ministers would take money in advance through the accountable advance method and later provide receipts to justify their expenses. Those receipts could have been procured dubiously, leaving room for enormous abuse.

Is that accountable? Hardly. The new system now creates transparency and accountability. But it is being used to perversely score cheap political points because amounts of per diem are clearly stated.

Such hypocrisy. What, of course, is even more perverse and tragic is that ordinary Fijian voters are being treated disparagingly by trying to distract them from the real issues of policy. Such as nation building, economic policies, employment, citizen empowerment, infrastructure, education, equality, home ownership, racism, cost of living and religious discrimination.

These issues of everyday importance are not being openly and professionally vented by the Opposition. These are key issues that the ordinary citizens want to hear about from the different political parties. Edited by Naisa Koroi

  • Read later this week when we highlight other non-important issues the political parties are focusing on in the absence of sound economic policies.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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