NEWS

NFP Fund Claims Don’t Add Up

National Federation Party (NFP) claims on Parliamentary offices funding are in stark contradiction to the facts, according to documents the Fiji Sun has seen. There are also questions being raised
02 Feb 2015 11:50
NFP Fund Claims Don’t  Add Up
Documents that the Fiji Sun obtained yesterday.

National Federation Party (NFP) claims on Parliamentary offices funding are in stark contradiction to the facts, according to documents the Fiji Sun has seen.

There are also questions being raised about the high number of staff – said to be nine – the NFP wanted to run an office supporting just three parliamentarians.

These disclosures as the NFP continues to lead Opposition protests and tries to blame Attorney-General and Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for changes in the funding system.

But correspondence from Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua to FijiFirst, SODELPA and National Federation Party offices, dated 8 January, make it clear Mr Sayed-Khaiyum did not make the decision.

Mrs Namosimalu said: “I refer to discussions held with officials in your political parties on 30 December 2014 and to the subsequent correspondence with respect to withdrawal of civil service established positions from parliamentary offices of the political parties in Parliament.

“Please note that in the exercise of the powers conferred upon the Secretary-General under the Constitution, I have decided that political parties in Parliament will no longer be provided with established civil service positions for their parliamentary offices.”

Instead the parties are being paid $15,000 for each MP they have. This is so they can hire their own people and not be bound by civil service rules in doing this.

Despite having this written correspondence, NFP leader Biman Prasad continues to blame Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, most recently during an NFP meeting in Nadi over the weekend.

 

Why is the NFP making such a fu ss?

Fiji Sun has been reliably informed that while NFP has just three Members of Parliament, they had lined up nine people to staff their office.

Mr Prasad has also claimed that as chair of the Public Accounts Committee he needs staff.

However, the Public Accounts Committee secretariat is completely different from party staff in Parliamentary offices and the funding for the Secretariat too is separate.

Mr Prasad claims that the allocation was going to make future parliamentary participation very difficult.

But the fact is that now NFP, SODELPA and FijiFirst can hire the people they want and prepare for parliamentary participation with like minded people employed in their offices.

Fiji Sun has also been reliably informed that before this change in parliamentary funding was announced all staff in SODELPA and NFP offices were paid by Parliament.

FijiFirst, on the other hand, had not sought any funding for even one of the staff they have employed at their Parliamentary office.

Mr Prasad has also called onto the international community to take note of NFP’s decision to reject the funding, saying that it was imposed upon them.

He, however, does not tell them that now the parties can even hire anyone over 55 years of age without seeking approval or exemption under civil service rules. This had to be sought when Mick Beddoes was hired by SODELPA as their principal administration officer.

Under the new rules SODELPA could even hire the former prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, as one of the support staff in their Parliamentary office.

The withdrawal of civil service established positions from Parliamentary offices also means that civil servants do not get employed by political parties.

The equivalent of $15,000 per MP that these political parties get now is also only to pay salaries for their staff.

Further expenses such as utility costs, morning tea/meals, stationery, cleaning and supply of all equipment is still being catered for by Parliament.

 

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