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Opposition Jumping The Gun

The impasse that has halted the work of the Public Accounts Committee is unfortunate. The Opposition had created the complications that have sent the committee into a tailspin. The Standing
14 Nov 2014 07:45
Opposition Jumping The Gun
Ro-Teimumu-Kepa-&-Biman-Prasad

The impasse that has halted the work of the Public Accounts Committee is unfortunate. The Opposition had created the complications that have sent the committee into a tailspin.

The Standing Orders do not expressly state that the Opposition nominee automatically becomes the chairperson of the committee. While it seems to have been practised in the past and regarded as parliamentary convention, it is not in line with the spirit of what is outlined in Sections 115, 116 and 117.

The bottom line is that the members of the committee elect an Opposition member to be the chairman/chairperson. So the condition is that the chair must be an Opposition MP. There is no mention of an Opposition nominee.

What had happened was that the Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, had pre-empted the final process by publicly endorsing Dr Biman Prasad as the proposed chairperson.

Even within her own SODELPA parliamentary caucus, MPs who have studied and know the Standing Orders, have privately expressed their disappointment over the mishandling of the whole issue by Ro Teimumu. While she had used the traditional Fijian ceremony to appease the dissenters, it has not completely healed the wounds.

Two questions are still being asked.

One is why SODELPA MPs like Aseri Radrodro were overlooked in favour of the leader of the National Federation Party. Party insiders say they cannot understand the rationale behind the decision. They also question why wide consultations within the party were not conducted before Dr Prasad was endorsed.

While Dr Prasad is an economist, Mr Radrodro is a chartered accountant and is a member of the Fiji Institute of Chartered Accountants. He has been an auditor for more than 15 years and is a member of the Fiji Institute of Internal Auditors. He previously worked for KPMG, an accounting and audit firm. He was a senior and principal auditor for the Auditor-General’s Office before becoming general manager finance and administration with the Fiji Sports Council. He has worked in other organisations of the private and public sectors. He holds a BA in Finance and Accounting and an MBA.

He is the proposed assistant to Dr Prasad.

Some MPs in the Opposition agree with Government members that Dr Prasad had prematurely made public statements about the released Auditor-General’s reports.

Dr Prasad should have followed the protocol and waited for the committee to convene.

Not everything in the reports is accurate. The reports should have been thoroughly scrutinised before the committee can issue a statement.

When the committee convenes next week under the chairmanship of the Speaker of the House, Dr Jiko Luveni, there could be interesting developments.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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