11 May 2015: Remarks by Hon Prof Biman Prasad, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the Tabling of PAC Report for the years 2007-2009 of The Auditor General’s Reports in Parliament

Remarks by Hon Professor Biman Prasad
Chairman – Public Accounts Committee/NFP Leader
Tabling of PAC Report for the years 2007-2009 of
The Auditor General’s Reports
In Parliament on Monday 11th May 2015
(Please Check Against Delivery)

Madam Speaker,
I rise to table the first Public Accounts Committee report of the new Fiji Parliament.

But before I do that Madam Speaker please allow me to Congratulate and say a Big Thank You, Vinaka Vaka Levu and Dhanyavaad to our National Sevens team that has done our nation immensely proud and has qualified for the Rio Summer Olympics. Our first Summer Olympic Medal and by the Grace of God a Gold – beckons and we must unite as a nation to provide every support possible towards the mission of our sevens team.

Not only that Madam Speaker, the team described as innovators of Sevens by rugby commentators convincingly won the Glasgow 7’s early this morning – hosted in Scotland known as the Inventors of 7’s. And I am hopeful that when we gather here next Monday, we will celebrate the crowning of Fiji as the World 7’s Series Champions after the completion of the London 7’s.

Madam Speaker – the tabling of the Report is the start of clearing a backlog of over twenty outstanding reports from the independent Audit Office since 2007.

All these reports, including this one, will test our new systems of accountability. As hard as going over past corruption and past financial mismanagement is, we should not forget that this is the actual point of parliamentary democracy. There is no easy way around this fact other than making sure we comprehensively deal with all the issues raised by the Auditor-General over the past decade, in the most transparent way possible. And that is exactly what the Public Accounts Committee has attempted to do with this first report, released for public viewing today.

I would like to thank Deputy Chair Singh and all committee members, for the positive input and support that came from both Government and non-Government MP’s. This bi-partisanship has been important, and the House should take confidence that the thirty-two (32) recommendations in this first report were unanimous.

Madam Speaker, I also thank the Auditor-Generals office, the Ministry of Finance officials, and the many other representatives of agency’s that were called before the committee to answer public questions during the PAC hearings in January 2015. In most cases, this was done in a diligent manner and answers were given as best they could. This was appreciated by the Committee.

And I also give the thanks of the Committee to the PAC Secretariat, for their ongoing efficiency. It is both acknowledged and appreciated.

Madam Speaker, I invite all parliamentary colleagues, and interested Fijians, to take a little time to read this 36-page report, and to reflect upon it.

Its’ two primary recommendations are to Fiji’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) to get on with the job of investigating and resolving all past corruption allegations made by the Auditor-General from 2007 until 2009, and to the Ministry of Finance to work much harder in addressing 29 systemic failures within the wider public service.

As the country makes a welcome return to parliamentary democracy, this report shines a light on poor past practice, past corruption, and past system failures. In 2015, this should provide further evidence to the community of Fiji of just how much work remains for us all as we seek the desired goal of ‘best practice’ government.

The committee looks forward to the current Governments response within the standing order requirements of sixty days. We do hope their response is delivered with the same good faith with which this first PAC report was written.