FIJI NEWS

Ministers stay in role before elections: Jioji

By ROSI DOVIVERATA A former Permanent Secretary in past governments has said there is no requirement under the Constitution or previous conventions in Fiji that Government Ministers must resign by
19 Feb 2014 09:14

By ROSI DOVIVERATA

A former Permanent Secretary in past governments has said there is no requirement under the Constitution or previous conventions in Fiji that Government Ministers must resign by a certain date before the elections.
Jioji Kotobalavu explained what had been the practice in Fiji since independence. He was commenting following claims by some politicians and Government critics that the Bainimarama Government should step aside before the elections and allow a caretaker government to take over.
Mr Kotobaluv said of the conventions which had been followed in the past: “They continue in their ministerial positions until the day the election results are formally announced.
“However, from the date the President issues the writ for the elections, which is 44 days before polling day, Cabinet becomes a caretaker administration.
“Ministers are to maintain a holding operation of government administration within budgeted funds.”
He said under this Cabinet should not initiate any new unbudgeted policy initiative or make any new financial expenditure or revenue commitment not provided for in the Government’s approved budget.
He said under such a convention: “Ministers are not to engage in political campaigns for the elections using public resources and must apply for leave of absence when attending political party meetings.”
Mr Kotobalavu said these constitutional conventions had always been strictly observed and respected by all previous Governments under the 1970 and 1997 constitutions and compliance was closely monitored by the Cabinet Secretariat.
“In the ultimate, rigorous and assiduous compliance with this caretaker administration convention depended on individual Ministers committing themselves to the highest standards of integrity and probity in the conduct of their ministerial office.
“And in this, public expectation is that the Prime Minister, as head of Government and chair of Cabinet, will be exemplary in personally setting the high standard of transparency for all Ministers,” Mr Kotobalavu said.
The timeframe for the General Elections is set out under Article 170 of the 2013 Constitution:
n Parliamentary elections are to be held no later than 30 September 2014
n 60 days before actual polling day, the President is to announce the specifi c date for polling
n 44 days before polling day, the President will issue the writ for the general elections
n Nomination of candidates by the various registered parties is then to follow in the next 14 days and the last day for nomination being the 30th day before polling day.


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