NEWS

New Twist in Row Over Parliamentary Funding

The internal SODELPA battle between its parliamentary wing and party headquarters over an annual $225,000 grant has taken a new twist. Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa is to move a
12 Feb 2016 11:39
New Twist in Row Over  Parliamentary Funding
SODELPA member and opposition leader of parliament,Ro Teimumu Kepa leaves government buildings after they walked out of the parliament yesterday. pic......RAMA

The internal SODELPA battle between its parliamentary wing and party headquarters over an annual $225,000 grant has taken a new twist.

Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa is to move a motion in Parliament today “that the 2015 grant for the offices operation of both sides of the House should be subjected to normal ‘scrutiny’ under the Audit Act and the Finance Instruction 2010.”

If the motion goes through it could mean that the parliamentary grant for this year, already deposited in the party account, may be reverted to the SODELPA Opposition bank account which the party wants closed following an inquiry.

The battle for the money led to an acrimonious split in the party between a group led by Ro Teimumu and another group headed by lawyer and MP, Mosese Bulitavu.

The parliamentary cheque addressed to the party for last parliamentary year was intercepted and deposited in a new bank account created by the SODELPA Opposition Office.

It was highlighted in the controversial Gaunavinaka Report which carried the findings of an audit.

The report was critical of the Opposition Office governance and the leadership of Ro Teimumu.

An internal party inquiry found serious breaches and recommended that the new bank account be closed and the balance of funds be transferred to the party’s main account.

There was concern that technically the party would be held accountable for the account under the Political Parties decree, even though it had no control and was not responsible.

But another internal inquiry cleared the Opposition Office of any wrongdoing.

The party’s management board has pardoned everyone involved in the row including Ro Teimumu and Mr Bulitavu who had earlier called for Ro Teimumu to step down at the height of the conflict over the report.

The big casualty from the row was Mick Beddoes, the former principal administrator in the Opposition and Ro Teimumu’s chief adviser. He resigned after mounting pressure for him to go.

The row dovetailed into attempts by party reformers to introduce changes and prepare the party for the 2018 general election.

Among the sweeping changes in an amended party constitution agreed by the party last year was to clean up its finances.

This would require an audit of the Opposition Office accounts by auditors chosen by the party.

 

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj

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