$125 million of taxpayers money wasted on Walesi - Kamikamica

$125 million of taxpayers money wasted on Walesi - Kamikamica

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 05/04/2023
[Photo: Walesi - Facebook]

The story of Walesi is a classic example of government overreach, excessive control, wastage and mismanagement – and because of government overreach - $125 million of taxpayers money is wasted.

Those are the words of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Manoa Kamikamica in his ministerial statement on Walesi as he says it doesn’t stop there because there could be potential abuse of office and even possibly misleading parliament.

Kamikamica says he would like to report to the House that the total amount spent on Walesi as at 10th March 2023 and they are still discovering other payments, is $125,571,388.87 and counting.

He says out of the $125 million spent so far, about $42.48 million came from the Telecommunications Development Trust Fund (a Trust funded by telecommunication service providers) and $83 million came through budgetary channels.

Kamikamica says it is important because it shows a deeper concern on how money was being spent on and how it was being disclosed in parliament.

He gave an example - as per the information provided by the Ministry in 2016 to 2017, there was $23.7 million spent from the Trust Account but in the Budget for 2016 to 2017, there is only a disclosure of $2 million.

Kamikamica asks what does this mean.

He says this suggests that the FijiFirst Government did not disclose to the people of Fiji how much it was truly spending on Walesi out of the Trust Account and can be deemed as misleading the people of Fiji in his view.

The Deputy Prime Minister says he agrees that these are very serious allegations and the government is not taking it lightly.

Kamikamica says with Cabinet approval, an investigation is being undertaken into this excessive use of funds.

It will establish how the funds were spent, whether due process was followed in terms of a tender process, the selection of vendors and how procurement was made.

Kamikamica will report back to parliament once this audit investigation is carried out.

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