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Biosecurity Boss Tells: Why We Back The Code of Conduct Bill

  Of the more than one million passengers, who disembarked at Fiji airports last year, 569,286 passengers were intercepted by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF). Acting chief executive officer
29 Jan 2019 09:29
Biosecurity Boss Tells: Why We Back The Code of Conduct Bill
Biosecurity Acting CEO Hillary M J Kumwenda during the submissions on Code of conducts to the Standing Committie on January 28,2019.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

 

Of the more than one million passengers, who disembarked at Fiji airports last year, 569,286 passengers were intercepted by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).

Acting chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda said 1,089,782 passengers passed through our airports indicating the great level of interaction BAF officials had with members of the public on a daily basis.

While making submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights yesterday on the Code of Conduct Bill, Mr Kumwenda said the greater the level of interaction was with people the more complaints they were bound to receive.

“On behalf of the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, the Code of Conduct Bill 2018 is welcomed,” Mr Kumwenda said.

“It is a fair and transparent system which we, as an organisation, uphold and duly support.

“If you look at an organisation such as Biosecurity, we have a lot of interaction with the public.

“Different stakeholders, individual passengers, business people and also foreign nationals who come to visit our shores in Fiji and we feel that level of interaction again brings us closer to a host of complaints.”

He said they were satisfied with Clause 12 which enabled the Accountability and Transparency Commission to determine the validity and genuineness of a complaint before proceeding further.

From left: Biosecurity Acting chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda, Government Member of Parliament Rohit Sharma and the Chairman for the standing committee Alvick Maharaj during the submissions on  January 28, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

From left: Biosecurity Acting chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda, Government Member of Parliament Rohit Sharma and the Chairman for the standing committee Alvick Maharaj during the submissions on
January 28, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

“We feel this is important if this Bill is to stand the test of time as complaints maybe trivial, vexatious, politically motivated or malicious in nature,” Mr Kumwenda said.

“We feel this clause is very important and it is good practice that it (complaints) be verified so that operations of BAF are not halted unnecessarily.”

Mr Kumwenda told the committee that penalties imposed ($10,000 fine and/or five years imprisonment) on persons laying malicious complaints is too low in comparison to the devastating effects complaints of such a nature has on a person’s career and standing in society.

“We feel that apart from laying such malicious complaints the penalty also has to be extremely equivalent in terms of the measure and also the damage it can do to such a person holding a particular office,” he said.

“We deal with so many stakeholders and these complaints are some things that we face on a daily basis.

“Sometimes people might lay serious devastating complaints against my staff, especially those at the border but the good thing is that with the modernisation that we have now in our entire major ports of entry like Nadi International Airport there is also video footage.”

He said 99.99 per cent of complaints against his officers are false and malicious.

Edited by Percy Kean

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