NEWS

Prasad’s Fate Hangs In Balance

Biman Prasad’s position as Public Accounts Committee chairman hangs in the balance. He is under scrutiny and could face a vote of no confidence if he continues to make public
25 Oct 2015 20:58
Prasad’s Fate  Hangs In Balance
NFP Opposition MP, Biman Prasad. Photo: Jona Konataci

Biman Prasad’s position as Public Accounts Committee chairman hangs in the balance.
He is under scrutiny and could face a vote of no confidence if he continues to make public utterances without consulting PAC members. Some of those utterances have infuriated Government.
Now he has also upset some members of the SODELPA Opposition.
They are questioning why he had to go public that the last PAC meeting was cancelled because there was no quorum. It was common knowledge that two of the three Government members had stepped down, they added.
Sanjit Patel had resigned his seat in Parliament and Semi Koroilavesau was appointed Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations. Government MP Balmindra Singh sought leave to attend a family funeral. It is understood that SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro had informed Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca that he would be away in New Zealand and colleague Mosese Bulitavu would stand in for him.
Mr Bulitavu had apparently flown from Labasa to Suva to attend the meeting. The concern was that when everyone was here, Mr Prasad was away overseas.
The practice of Mr Prasad going  public without consulting all the committee members has irritated both Government and some Opposition MPs.
If there is a vote of no confidence in Mr Prasad, PAC members can elect Mr Radrodro as chairperson. The Standing Orders of Parliament state that the committee may elect only an Opposition member as chairperson. Mr Radrodro’s election would make some SODELPA MPs happy but not necessarily the Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and her loyalists. Mr Prasad is Ro Teimumu’s nominee.
It would be up to Mr Radrodro to accept the chair. If he does, he could face disciplinary action from SODELPA. In Mr Radrodro’s favour is the concern raised in the controversial Gaunavinaka Report which questioned the process followed in the first place to nominate the National Federation Party leader to the position when there were equally suitable and qualified people in SODELPA who could do the job.

The report which was compiled after an audit of the Opposition Office was critical of its governance and the Ro Teimumu’s leadership. It has split the party. On one side are the reformers which include Mr Radrodro. On the opposite side is Ro Teimumu and the old guard.
If Mr Radrodro declines the chair, Government has the numbers to amend the Standing Orders to allow one of its MPs to chair the committee. It will not be a precedent. In the Australian parliament, the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee is from the Government side.
Mr Prasad said yesterday that he had to study the questions sent to him before he could reply.
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