Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa says her nomination of Dr Biman Prasad as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has been approved by the Speaker to Parliament and should stand.
Ro Teimumus comment comes in the wake of a decision this morning to defer the committees first meeting after Government MPs rejected Dr Prasads appointment.
Professor Biman Prasads nomination as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee as approved by the Speaker on October 21st 2014 remains, she said in a statement.
todays decision by the three Government Members on the PAC to reject his appointment on the basis of his comments in the media is frivolous. It creates the perception that Government is trying to stifle the work of the most important standing Committee of Parliament that has no time to waste in scrutinising seven years of reports of the Auditor-General.
The Leader of the Opposition nominated Dr Prasad as Chairman of the PAC together with Oppositiom MP Aseri Radrodro as Members of the five-member Public Accounts Committee.
It has been parliamentary convention that the nominee of the Leader of the Opposition is the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee. This is also clearly spelt out in Standing Orders 117 (2) (a) where it states quote the Standing Committee on Public Accounts may only elect an opposition member as Chairperson unquote, Ro Teimumu said.
The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni has already announced the appointment of Dr Prasad as PAC Chairman and this was conveyed to the Opposition Leader on October 21st 2014. By rejecting his appointment, Government is not only breaching the Standing Orders, but defying and undermining the role of the Leader of the Opposition as well as that of the Speaker.
There is no evidence to support the claim that Dr Prasad is undermining the work of the Public Accounts Committee by commenting in the media. He has only commented on the role of the PAC as defined in the Standing Orders. He has not commented on the specific contents of the Auditor-Generals Reports, despite the fact that it is now very much in the public domain.
The Leader of the Opposition reiterated that the choice of Chair of the Public Accounts Committee was her prerogative and not the Governments.
As Leader of the Opposition I will not be dictated to by Government on this or any other matter as long as we conform to parliamentary standing orders and democratic conventions, Ro Teimumu said.
todays action by Government members of the Public Accounts Committee is nothing more than a shameful attempt to disrupt the commencement of the Public Accounts Committee and it appears to be part of its damage control efforts to delay their inevitable confrontation with the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability that they have managed to avoid for the past eight years.
Ro Teimumu said she has written to the Secretary-General to Parliament, Viniana Namosimalua, urging her to immediately reconvene the Public Accounts Committee as more than sufficient notice has been given as required by the standing orders and there is an expectation from the people that the processes of transparency and accountability must start now that the new Parliament has been elected.
The Opposition Leader has asked the Prime Minister to demonstrate his stated desire for working inclusively by instructing his government members to participate in the Public Accounts Committee and demonstrate good faith, saying this is what the people of Fiji expect from all their elected members.