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EDITORIAL: PM Shows How it is Done in Resolving Police Back Pay Issue

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama must be commended for resolving the long-standing issue of the 2004 Police back pay. On Tuesday, he called a meeting of all the stakeholders, after ex-Police
28 Aug 2015 14:40
EDITORIAL: PM Shows How it is Done in Resolving Police Back Pay Issue

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama must be commended for resolving the long-standing issue of the 2004 Police back pay.

On Tuesday, he called a meeting of all the stakeholders, after ex-Police officers complained that they were still waiting to be paid the full amount owed to them. This was after the FijiFirst Government made an allocation of at least $26 million in the budget to pay people who have served but are owed money, like the ex-Police officers.

What took 11 years to resolve only took the PM less than half an hour to sort out. Mr Bainimarama listened to all the stakeholders, detected the cause of the problem, and instructed remedial action to be taken immediately.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what went wrong with the payment of the Police back pay. This newspaper has been asking the question for several months but it appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.

With all due respect to Minister for Defence Timoci Natuva, he needs to seriously review the advice he was given about the whole issue.

Obviously, he and Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald were ill-informed, because when all the facts were put on the table, the Police case that the back pay of 30 per cent had been paid, was found wanting.

It’s their responsibility to retrace the information to its origin because when they get there they will find the clue. It’s important that this exercise is conducted so that everyone can learn from it and avoid a repetition of an embarrassing situation that was experienced on Tuesday.

In 2004, Police officers were awarded a 30 per cent back pay with military and corrections officers. The award was given after a comprehensive job evaluation exercise by the then Laisenia-led SDL Government.

The military and corrections officers received their full payment in one lump sum. The Police decided to pay their officers six per cent, the remainder to be paid later. That decision was wrong. Police officers should have received the full payment.

The remaining 24 per cent has not been paid. Where did the money go?

This issue cannot be swept under the carpet because it involved taxpayers’ money. The money had been diverted elsewhere at the expense of the hard working officers. Those responsible should be held accountable.

The final insult to the victims of this debacle was that they again missed out  after the FijiFirst Government, in its compassion, allocated money to pay for the back pay.

The question that needs to be asked again is: What happened to the new money?

The Police need to learn that when money is allocated for a specific purpose, then it must go towards that purpose. Other considerations come second.

Mr Bainimarama has instructed the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Filimone Waqabaca, to help the Police pay the overdue back pay balance  to those entitled.

The resolution is good news for the aggrieved ex-officers. For some of them it has come too late. They have died.

For the rest of them, justice is finally done and thanks to Mr Bainimarama.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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