Letters

EDITORIAL: It Is Mission Accomplished For Brigadier-General Kurusiga

Brigadier-General Apakuki Kurusiga must be commended for his contribution to the clean-up of the Ministry of  iTaukei Affairs. He was recruited by the ministry in 2008 to do an audit
28 Sep 2017 10:39
EDITORIAL: It Is Mission Accomplished For Brigadier-General Kurusiga
Brigadier-General Apakuki Kurusiga

Brigadier-General Apakuki Kurusiga must be commended for his contribution to the clean-up of the Ministry of  iTaukei Affairs.

He was recruited by the ministry in 2008 to do an audit and to report to Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs Voreqe Bainimarama.

This is because of allegations of abuse of office and corruption. It is understood that he discovered that accountability and transparency were seriously lacking. This affected the overall performance of the ministry and the service delivery to the iTaukei.

Part of his recommendations that has been implemented is the strengthening of the  positions of the turaga-ni-koro (village headmen) and the Roko Tui.  At the same time, capacity building took place at the tikina (district) and provincial council level to empower the officials who sit there to deal with the modern changes and challenges facing the iTaukei from a development perspectives. There has been on-going training workshops to develop skills and build capacity.

As a result, there is better co-ordination between the ministry and the provincial councils and the monitoring of performance.

Abuse of office has dramatically been reduced. Before the audit, there was a lack of monitoring of what went on in the provinces. Now the Roko Tui(s) are required to submit a regular report to the ministry of  their activities. These are assessed to see the need for improvement and training.

Permanent Secretary Naipote Katonitabua has stressed that “there is no place for corruption in the ministry.”

According to a Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) analysis, bribery and abuse of office continues to be widespread in Fiji’s public sectors.

The report said weak policy statements, together with inadequate work processes and procedures contributed to corruption.

For the iTaukei Ministry its audits have revealed cases of abuse of office. It probably explains why there were no audited reports for a number of years.

So it was a major breakthrough that the ministry was able to submit the 2007 annual accounts of the iTaukei Affairs Board (TAB) and the 14 Provincial Councils to the Office of the Auditor-General.

Now TAB has prepared its 2008 – 2015 annual accounts and the 14 Provincial Councils. Altogether a total of 92 annual reports are ready to be submitted to the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG). In addition the ministry has:

Special taskforce set up to work on the backlog.

Regular meeting with Office of the Auditor-General        office to review work plans.

Set up a new finance/payroll/human resource system.

Introduce an integrated system that will connect TAB Headquarters and the 14 provincial offices.

Strengthen internal control and review of business.

Recruit qualified accountants at Headquarters and qualified treasurers.

A Board that has an internal audit department to conduct surprise audit visits to the provincial offices.

The Board has also set out disciplinary measures on abuse of funds which include:

(i)    Termination

(ii)   Demotion

(iii)  Salary recovery

In a recent case, five officers were disciplined for abuse of office. Four had been terminated and one demoted.

The Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs has set a good example. It has even recruited non- iTaukei to important positions on merit to lift standards and improve performance.

For Brigadier-General Kurusiga, it’s mission accomplished.

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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