NEWS

Was it Only Winston Donation? No.

However, yesterday the Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem released documents showing that the first disbursement was made from the account nearly a year after the cyclone on January 6, 2017, for NFP staff pay totalling $973.08.
19 Oct 2020 12:37
Was it Only Winston Donation? No.
Registrar of parties Mohammed Saneem left and National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad

Out of a total of $22,736.95 in donations made to the National Federation Party’s (NFP) Relief and Welfare Fund account, only $2154.80 was used for relief or rebuilding efforts post-Tropical Cyclone Winston.

NFP Leader Biman Prasad confirmed that $2352 was deposited to the account in 2016 from his salary, in 2017 it was $18,816.

He claimed that since people needed immediate support after the cyclone he advanced personal and party funds for the purpose of the Relief and Welfare Fund, which were to be reconciled later.

However, yesterday the Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem released documents showing that the first disbursement was made from the account nearly a year after the cyclone on January 6, 2017, for NFP staff pay totalling $973.08.

“One would expect that an account with such purpose would have stringent guidelines and audit trails, but there appears to be none,” Mr Saneem said.

“If this was the case one would expect that the expenses incurred by NFP on a personal scale for Winston support would be reimbursed from this account.”

Transactions made from the Winston relief account reveal that funds were used for transactions other than to assist cyclone victims.

These include payment of utility bills, petty cash withdrawal, purchase of office supplies, and medical expense for NFP President Pio Tikoduadua, funeral and reguregu expenses, payments to rugby clubs, Hibiscus, amongst others.

The full breakdown was made available to Mr Saneem upon his request in a letter dated September 23, 2020.

In 2017, the party spent $22,736.95 from the account through 50 transactions, six of which were for Cyclone relief efforts.

In the letter NFP confirmed the account was used as a general account and that there was some cross over.

“This mixture of relief funds which ought to have been operated as a trust account with campaign donations and expenses shows a concerning financial management by the party,” he said.

“Left unaddressed it would set terrible precedent and toleration of such reckless financial management from any party would seriously jeopardise political funding in Fiji in the future.”

Mr Saneem said it’s unfortunate that Mr Prasad had chosen to politicise the matter by leading a concerted campaign to discredit the Registrar’s independent work prompting him to release details of the account.

He also clarified that NFP was not referred to FICAC for helping people as Mr Prasad claimed, instead Mr Prasad was being investigated by FICAC for exceeding the donation limit per person per year which was $10,000.

Attempts to get comments from Mr Prasad were unsuccessful.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 



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