Senor civil servants are blatantly politicking via the media by doing bidding for Government whose leadership and ministers are contesting the elections under the banner of Fiji First.
The latest example of civil servants publicly indulging in politics was on “4 the Record” programme on Fiji Broadcasting Commission Television on Sunday night. The guests on the programme were the Permanent Secretary for Finance Filimone Waqabaca, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji Arif Ali and Chief Executive of Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) Jitoko Tikolevu.
While responding to a leading question from a journalist on the panel, Mr Tikolevu said a reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) would have little impact on the price of goods. Mr Tikolevu, in dismissing the issue of VAT reduction, went onto to say even an increase in VAT to 20% would be insignificant.
It is quite clear that Mr Tikolevu was trying to rubbish the National Federation Party’s promise to reduce VAT from 15% to 10%, that has been consistently advocated by the Leader and the Party for the last four months.
As a senior public servant, Mr Tikolevu should know his role is only to implement Government policies. Their role is to implement Government policies. And this includes any Government that comes into power after the September 17 general elections.
By commenting on a policy proposed by a political party, in this case explained in detail in the NFP’s manifesto, Mr Tikolevu has totally compromised the neutrality and independence of his position as FRCA Head as well as that of the Institution. He should have remained apolitical and completely refrained from making political comments. A ordinary civil servant is disallowed from even to be seen at political party meetings or gatherings as it is construed as showing support towards a political party.
FRCA is an Independent Institution. Unfortunately, Mr Tikolevu has given it a semblance of a political wing of Government and the Fiji First Party.
Also Mr Waqabaca commented that he was on the programme because of what he called “misleading statements about the economy”. Instead of politicking, Mr Waqabaca must tell the people of Fiji what is the real state Government finances and the proposal in the 2014 Budget to rake revenue through sale of State assets.
The NFP once again calls upon officers in all independent state institutions to remain apolitical at all times. We also warn that by indulging in political campaign, senior public servants are showing their political bias and tarnishes their credibility and suitability to hold similar senior positions following a change of government and restoration of democracy after the elections.