Analysis | Politics

Pants on Fire? Biman Caught Out, Twice

He was quickly reminded by the Attorney-General of his piece to the Fiji Times which had clearly stated that all civil servants should take a 35 per cent pay cut.
28 Mar 2020 11:42
Pants on Fire? Biman Caught Out, Twice
Opposition Member of outside Parliament on March 27, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad was caught lying outright in Parliament by the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Thursday evening.

In an attempt to derail efforts by the Government to deliver a COVID-19 response budget, Mr Prasad launched a diatribe about steps Government needed to take.

He was quickly reminded by the Attorney-General of his piece to the Fiji Times which had clearly stated that all civil servants should take a 35 per cent pay cut.

This is an excerpt from Mr Biman’s piece to The Fiji Times: “The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, assistant ministers, Speaker, members of Parliament, permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, and all those in the civil service, and Government owned commercial companies and statutory organisations, as well as heads and executives of independent institutions, should take a 35 per cent salary cut…”

In Parliament yesterday, he attempted to do damage control. He blamed it on a typing error.

Except, it wasn’t.

One thing Mr Prasad should know is that he should not challenge the Attorney-General on facts and figures, it would just backfire on him.

This is not the first time Mr Prasad has been caught out by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and definitely would not be the last.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that right now was not the time for the civil service to receive a pay cut.

His reason for this was that there were many in the private sector who were unemployed or have had their hours reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those people relied on their relatives in the civil service to also assist them while the private sector recovers.

And if that wasn’t enough, Mr Prasad received a second blow on Thursday night.

This time by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Mr Prasad and his majority Opposition partner, SODELPA, had written to Mr Bainimarama wanting to be part of the budget process. They did this without putting in any submissions from their side towards the budget.

There was nothing stopping them from putting in their submission so their hue and cry over not being included seems very hypocritical.

When Mr Prasad sent the letter to the Head of Government, Mr Bainimarama read out in Parliament his rather witty response on national television.

Dear Honourable Prasad,

In determining my response to your letter, I had to ask myself: Which Biman Prasad am I writing to?

Is it the Biman who divisively attacked Fiji’s (overtly apolitical) call for multilateral action in the Financial Times, undermining the need for unity in our rallying cry for small island states?

The same Biman who divisively politicised a global economic crisis, preaching that Fiji was somehow on unequal footing as the countless other nations who face the fallout of this pandemic?

The same Biman who divisively condemned the life-saving protection measures enforced by the Police officers at the borders of the Lautoka confined area?

The same Biman who divisively labelled the government as “egotistical” then –– in the same breath –– arbitrarily demanded a 35 per cent pay cut for “all those in the civil service”, which would include our essential healthcare workers on the front lines of our COVID-19 response?

Or, is it the Biman Prasad who –– in a stunning reversal –– is now asking to work with our government in the “genuine” spirit of bipartisanship?

Whichever Biman I’m speaking to, I hope he can at least settle on one thing: There’s nothing “genuine” about hypocrisy. I assure you we will continue to lead our COVID-19 response with the best information, on the advice of leading experts and in line with best practices around the world.

You –– and your two other elected party members –– can support that work by consistently standing in solidarity with the Fijian people. I suggest you begin by backing the measures we’ve put into place to ensure the health and safety of every Fijian comes first.

Respectfully,

Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama

Biman Prasad needs to learn that there are people who are able to see through his attempts to belittle the Government

If his Party was genuine, they would have put in their submission when every Fijian was asked to give their input. Did they?

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

Read ‘Government MP Koya Exchanges Stern Words With NFP Leader Prasad’: https://fijisun.com.fj/?p=502169

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