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Sabha Defends Grant Usage

The diversion of school funds by parent bodies was under the spotlight at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday. The Ministry of Education presentation, before the committee, revealed that The
18 Jul 2015 11:20
Sabha Defends Grant Usage
Public Accounts Committee chairperson Biman Prasad. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The diversion of school funds by parent bodies was under the spotlight at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday.

The Ministry of Education presentation, before the committee, revealed that The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji was one of the parent bodies under investigation over this issue.

Representatives from the Auditor-General’s (AG) Office said that some schools in Fiji were administered by parent bodies.

They said the grants were supposed to be given to the schools but these grants were collected by the parent bodies who managed the grants.

“Part of the grants are given to the schools. But we have noted that significant amount of the grant is diverted to the parent body and we have noted that one of this parent bodies is also running a University in Fiji and the tuition funds have been diverted as a loan to this University,” said director finance for the Ministry of Education (MOE),Makarita Fuatu. She said that the Sabha case case would be investigated.

“We have some of our controlling authority diverting some of their funds to the University of Fiji and it’s been addressed we are withholding all their grants and it is now being managed from the ministry.

“After meeting with The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, we were informed that it was directly done by the bank and that is if it sees lack of funds from any of the schools that is under them, it automatically transfers funds,”she said.

PAC chaiperson Biman Prasad said it was imperative that investigations were carried out to prevent the issue from repeating.

President of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Kamlesh Arya insisted they did not abuse the funds given.

“We will welcome the investigation but as we know that school grants are usually received by the schools late and with this we thought it was urgent to rotate the funds that we have in order to prevent the schools from going into a financial debt,”Mr Arya said.

“We have been practicing this for the last 40 years and at the moment our audited accounts is up to date and they can feel free to check our accounts,”he said.

Mr Prasad also highlighted a record in the 2012 Auditor General’s report regarding a payment of $230,000 which was made by the Ministry to Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL) for the purchasing of E-ticketing cards which was not received by the ministry.

The committee head from the Ministry of Education confirmed that the case was under investigation and was being referred to the Solicitor-General’s Office.

The ministry will appear before the committee in August to update the committee on these two cases highlighted in the Auditor-General’s reports from 2010 to 2013.

Feedback: litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj
 

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