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What Happened To The 2004 Fund That Was Earmarked For Police Officers’ Backpay?

Former Police inspector Tevita Ralulu has highlighted the injustice against Police officers when they were denied the full payment of their backpay in 2004. The Military and Corrections officers received
22 Dec 2014 11:00
What Happened To The 2004 Fund That Was Earmarked For Police Officers’ Backpay?

Former Police inspector Tevita Ralulu has highlighted the injustice against Police officers when they were denied the full payment of their backpay in 2004.

The Military and Corrections officers received their backpay in full after a job review of the disciplined forces.

Mr Ralulu has asked a legitimate question: “What happened to the missing money?” Was it diverted to fund other projects?

It should not be hard to trace the history of that fund which was allocated for a very specific purpose – to pay for the backpay of Police officers. Whatever it was used for was inappropriate and simply not right as a matter of principle.

It is sad that some of the Police officers entitled to the backpay have died. Others may have moved overseas.

They are victims of a botched system that saw money earmarked for their backpay channelled elsewhere.

The former Finance Minister in Laisenia Qarase’s SDL Government, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, said the money should have come out of the Police Budget on emoluments.

Records show that in 2004, the Police Budget increased from $53.2 million to $57.9 million. That budget also included pay increments and backpay for Police officers.

Ratu Jone said the Police officers should have been paid. He said if they were not paid then something must have been wrong somewhere.

Last month, after the 2015 Budget announcement, Acting Commissioner of Police, Isikeli Vuniwaqa, said Police officers were paid part of their backpay. What has not been explained is what happened to the balance of the fund.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, must be commended for correcting a past wrong they were not responsible for.

Their assistance is indicative of the Government’s policy to give everyone a fair go.

It’s the same policy that saw it win the general election emphatically. Transparency and accountability are integral parts of that policy.

While Government has helped out, there needs to be a thorough investigation to ascertain how the unaccounted fund was used.

The investigation could be included on the list of issues for the Public Accounts Committee to deliberate on.

Just as the committee goes through the Auditor-General’s reports from 2007 to 2013, it should be able to revisit the 2004-2006 reports to determine how the Police Budget was used.

This is an issue that should be taken seriously to ensure that it is not repeated in the future.

It is hoped that the on-going public service reforms will eliminate past wrong practices that we are now paying for.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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