Analysis

Making Parliamentary Expenses Transparent Will Act as a Deterrent Against Fraud, Protect MPs

Taxpayers have the right to know the information about the expenses of MPs and public officers because they are paid by public funds.
22 May 2020 11:34
Making Parliamentary Expenses Transparent Will Act as a Deterrent Against Fraud, Protect MPs

Every quarter, parliamentary expenses with respect to allowance claims by MPs, should be published in newspapers and online for all to see.

That will act as a deterrent to fraud and protect MPs.

The investigation by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) into allegations that some MPs falsified their claims for allowances they were not entitled to calls for such a measure.

It falls in line with good governance principles of transparency and accountability.

Right to know

Taxpayers have the right to know the information about the expenses of MPs and public officers because they are paid by public funds.

So the publication of the expenses is in the public interest. It’s a legitimate exercise and one that will be welcomed by the people.

Those who ascend to public office are under public scrutiny 24 hours a day seven days a week in what they say and do and how they spend public funds.

We should take our cue from the New Zealand Parliament.

If I want to know how much the Green Party MPs clocked up in expenses it is provided. For example the Greens eight MPs racked up $61, 463 from January to March.

It includes where they live, the travel and accommodation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour backbenchers spent $379,158 with a breakdown of each MP’s expenses.

Another report is due after June 30, the end of the second quarter.

If a similar report is produced here people can ask questions on why an MP who lists Suva as place of permanent residence spends an unusually high cost of accommodation.

But then some MPs own more than one property. Which one is their usual place of residence, which they use while Parliament or Standing Committees are sitting.

That will determine their travel expenses.

The public scrutiny should also extend to their overseas trips for official purposes.

Many of these trips are funded by donor agencies like the United Nations Development Programme.

Those who go on these trips should not be claiming for expenses from the Government. To do it would tantamount to double dipping.

It’s a serious offence.

In as far as the current FICAC investigations are concerned, the Secretary-General to Parliament, Viniana Namosimalua, should be commended for reporting this matter to FICAC.

If indeed the claims for expenses were falsified, it would be interesting to see how long they had been going on.

Was it a hangover from previous parliaments, which went unchecked, and undetected?

Even if it did, there is no justification that it should be allowed to happen in the current Parliament.

In our current economic climate, abuse and wastage of public funds are a no-no.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper