NEWS

Cheque Row Heats Up

The party parliamentary grant of $225,000 that ended in the Opposition Office was originally sent to SODELPA’s general secretary, it was revealed yesterday . Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua confirmed
30 Oct 2015 13:27
Cheque Row Heats Up

The party parliamentary grant of $225,000 that ended in the Opposition Office was originally sent to SODELPA’s general secretary, it was revealed yesterday .

Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua confirmed for the first time that the cheque was addressed to SODELPA’s general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu.

In fact the letters for FijiFirst and National Federation Party were also sent to their general secretaries, she added. She said the grants were for staffing.

Mrs Namosimalua was asked how the money was directly received by the Opposition Office and not the party. She said: “it’s none of my business, it’s party politics.”

Mr Tabaiwalu and Opposition Office principal administrative officer could not be reached to comment yesterday, but, other officials who could not be identified because of new media policy, expressed their concern. They were concerned that this could cause registration complications for the party.

SODELPA would have to account for the money because it is on the official records as the recipient. If the Opposition Office is able to provide acquittals for all its expenditure, then there would be no problems.

If the party  commits an offence under this decree, the Registrar shall have the power to:

  1. a) Issue a warning and require the political party to conform to this Decree within a specified period;

or (b) suspend the registration of the political party for a period not exceeding 12 months.

However, its MPs will continue with their roles in Parliament.

The SODELPA allocation has been a subject of an internal party row culminating in the controversial Gaunavinaka confidential report.

It is understood that the envelope addressed to Mr Tabaiwalu  was allegedly intercepted and the cheque deposited into a new bank account opened by the Opposition Office. It is one of the major issues raised in the Gaunavinaka report after an audit of the Opposition Office. The report is critical of the governance of the Opposition Office and the leadership of Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa. A board of inquiry was conducted into the report headed by Anare Jale. Their report is now being studied by a disciplinary committee comprising of academic Tupeni Baba and former diplomat Emitai Boladuadua. Their recommendations will be tabled in a management board meeting next month.

The party has been bickering over who should have received the money.

This and other issues in the Gaunavinaka report have divided the party into two groups, the Ro Teimumu-Mick Beddoes- Laufitu Malani- Ratu Isoa Tikoca group and the reformers who want change.

Meanwhile, a joint parliamentary-management board committee has been appointed to put in place new structures and systems in the Opposition Office to lift the quality and standards of service in line with the international best practices. The committee members are MPs Salote Radrodro (former senior civil servant and administrator) and Aseri Radrodro (Chairperson Finance) plus board members Anare Jale (experienced  former senior civil servant) and Adi Litia Qionibaravi (lawyer, architect of new amended party constitution).

One of their first tasks is to establish clear rules that govern the party and the Opposition Office financial transactions to avoid confusion and ensure compliance with the provisions of the Political Parties decree.

It is almost definite that, under Mr Radrodro, an experienced chartered accountant, strict financial rules will be observed. The next parliamentary allocation for the 2015-2016 financial year is likely to be controlled by the party in consultation with the Opposition Leader. This will ensure accountability and transparency.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 



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