By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – By August, Fiji’s Ministry of Finance had only spent $15 million of the $162 million allocated for the entirety of 2008. A leading economist, Dr. Biman Prasad, the head of economics at the University of the South Pacific, criticizes the spending, “This is criminal negligence or downright incompetence. While our people are crying out for good roads, reliable water supply and better medical services, the Finance Ministry was sitting around twiddling its thumb.” The comments from Prasad were given at the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions third delegate’s conference at the Suva Civic Centre.
Prasad hopes that with the exit of the interim Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, the 2009 national budget will include expenditure policies which will help stimulate the economy. He added, “such inertia in such a key ministry is shocking.”
Prasad says further, “Besides improving infrastructure, so much employment could have been created had the money been put to good use. The buck for this pathetic state of affairs stops with the interim Finance Minister.”
Also present at the conference was ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Dr. Prasad highlighted the faults of Qarase’s government and said his party’s squandering of resources and reckless spending gave impetus for the coup that Prasad claims damaged the economy in 2006.
Interim Finance Minister Chaudhry has yet to respond to the accusations.
For more information, please see:
Fijilive – Economist slams Chaudhry’s policies – 27 September 2008
Pacific Magazine – Fiji Government’s Lack of Spending Criticized – 28 September 2008
The Fiji Times Online – Chaudhry exit ‘good for budget’ – 28 September 2008