Analysis | Politics

Report Vindicates Government Reforms To Clean Up Provincial Councils

It was unfortunate that the Opposition MPs were absent because some, if not most of them, were members of the SDL Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase during the period under review.
20 Feb 2020 13:02
Report Vindicates Government Reforms To Clean Up Provincial Councils
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chairperson Alvick Maharaj.

The evidence is out and it proves that Government reforms are justified to put right the governance of provincial councils.

The Public Accounts Committee’s report on provincial councils tabled in Parliament yesterday vindicated the reforms.

SODELPA Opposition politicians have frequently attacked the Government claiming that it has taken away the rights of the iTaukei to administer their affairs.

Some of the changes include the introduction of good governance principles like accountability and transparency, particularly in the administration of funds.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chairperson Alvick Maharaj said yesterday that the audit of the provincial councils had been extensively delayed. He said it was primarily due to the non-submission of the financial statements annually to the Office of the Auditor General. He said this resulted in the backlog of 14 years of timely preparation and quality submission of the annual accounts.

Betwen 2015 and 2018, the Office of the Auditor General received from the iTaukei Affairs Board, 114 draft financial statements for the 14 provincial councils.

The report contains the audited financial statements for six provincial councils for the years ranging from 2000 to 2007.

The provincial councils were Tailevu (2002-2007), Naitasiri (2002-2007), Lau (2003-2007), Macuata (2005-2007), Rewa (2005-2005), Serua (2002-2005).

Mr Maharaj said it was found that there were 126 significant matters on the audits of the 30 financial statements of the six provincial councils. He said this was not a good reflection.

“In this regard the committee strongly recommends that immediate action needs to be drawn towards the timely submission of the provincial council’s financial statements,” he said.

He said these were for auditing, compliance with accounting standards and international best practices, provision of resources to ensure compliance and confirmation of investments with provincial companies and resolution on whether provincial councils are subject to VAT.

He said the committee was of the strong view that the provincial councils needed to strengthen internal controls over cash management, journals and reconciliation, purchases and payments and payroll pursuant to the Audit Act 1969, iTaukei Affairs Act 1994 and the iTaukei Affairs (Provincial Council) Regulation 1996.

Mr Maharaj moved a motion that a debate on the content of the report be initiated at a future sitting. The motion was passed.

It was unfortunate that the Opposition MPs were absent because some, if not most of them, were members of the SDL Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase during the period under review. They should have been in Parliament to hear what Mr Maharaj said and maybe contribute to the debate.

Some of them keep harping about iTaukei rights and criticise the Government over the way it has strengthened the governance of the provincial councils and other iTaukei institutions like the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

The rights talk is fuelled by a political agenda to appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei. But it’s meaningless when poor governance is really the reason that is affecting iTaukei progress in a negative way.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper