$889,234.84 in taxpayers money paid to Vatis Communications by the Department of Information
Dept of Information not revealing specific details, no comments from Arnold Chanel since Jan

$889,234.84 in taxpayers money paid to Vatis Communications by the Department of Information

Dept of Information not revealing specific details, no comments from Arnold Chanel since Jan

By Vijay Narayan
Saturday 08/04/2023
Vatis Director Arnold Chanel

$889,234.84 in taxpayers money was paid to Vatis Communications by the Department of Information until the termination of their contract earlier this year.

Prime Minister and Minister Information, Sitiveni Rabuka says this was spent by the FijiFirst Government on social media management services offered by Vatis to the Department of Information.

Rabuka says from September 2019 to January 2023, Vatis had been engaged by the Department of Information to provide social media management services for the Fiji Government social media platforms.

He adds the Department of Information does not have the specifics for the engagement of Vatis by other Ministries.

Rabuka says the Department of Information entered into two one-year contracts with Vatis, commencing on September 24th, 2019, and October 1st, 2022, respectively, which also included provision for extensions.

The first contract between the Department of Information and Vatis commenced on September 24th, 2019 and was valued at $280,000 VIP.

The second contract which commenced on October 1st, 2020 was valued at $295,412 VIP

The Prime Minister says according to the Registrar of Companies records, Vatis was established on January 22nd, 2018, while the advertisement for the initial expression of interest for a social media management firm was posted on August 17th, 2019.

When Rabuka was asked whether or not the company complied with the Expression of Interest or Tender provision of being “highly experienced and motivated, the Prime Minister says it was noted that Vatis had previous experience working with multiple and diverse range of stakeholders, including government ministries, statutory organisations, independent agencies, and private organisations.

He says records say their experience included crisis management and strategic communication services on social media platforms, among other things.

When asked whether or not the two main personnel of Vatis Communications were closely connected to a political party and in charge of the party’s social media platforms, Rabuka says the Department of Information is unable to provide any comments regarding this matter as it was not privy to this information.

Vatis’ contract has been terminated by the coalition government in January this year.

It’s Director, Arnold Chanel has not responded to our questions since January.

Chanel was also part of the FijiFirst Party Campaign Team prior to the 2018 general elections.

We have asked the Department of Information and the Ministry of Finance to confirm what is the progress on the investigation into Vatis, what was the role of Vatis within the Department of Information and how many ministries were they working for, how much tax dollars were they getting paid, did they all go through a tender process, when was Vatis contracted and what was their role.

We are awaiting their response.

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