Blame squarely rests on previous Govt for mess for people in cities and towns – Prof. Prasad
$33M rate arrears for SCC and $14M for NTC

Blame squarely rests on previous Govt for mess for people in cities and towns – Prof. Prasad

$33M rate arrears for SCC and $14M for NTC

By Vijay Narayan , Rashika Kumar , Iliana Biutu
Tuesday 21/05/2024

The Suva City Council, with 11,400 ratepayers is owed $33 million in arrears while the Nasinu Town Council is owed $14 million, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says they are now grappling with the collection of rates and town and city councils are struggling to even put fans in the market.

While speaking during the debate on the Public Accounts Committee report on the Audits of Municipal Councils for the year ended 2021–2022, Professor Prasad says the blame for what is happening today squarely rests on the previous government and some of them are pontificating about governance and how the councils should be managed.

Professor Prasad says they want to make sure that ratepayers pay rates and town and city council administrators appointed by the government are working on it.

They are also looking at freezing assets including bank accounts of ratepayers to collect the millions of dollars in rates owed to the councils.

FijiFirst MP Virendra Lal says it has been stated in Parliament that municipal council elections will take place but to date, they have not seen any legislation to regulate the elections.

Lal says time is running out and certain processes cannot be fast-forwarded.

While responding to Lal, Professor Prasad says Lal spoke about the elections without even acknowledging that for about 15 years, they had suppressed the democracy of the ratepayers of the country and they should have at least a little bit of decency.

He says the government has announced that the election will be held, work is already being done, there are reviews and they will know in good time when the election will take place.

FijiFirst MPs Hem Chand and Lal also raised concerns relating to garbage collection in the Nasinu area and Professor Prasad has assured them that Nasinu Town Council will have it’s own trucks and system of collecting rubbish by the end of this month.

He says the Nasinu Town Council administrators have told him that Nasinu Town Council had their own rubbish collection trucks and somebody had decided that those trucks will be transferred to Suva and a new contract will be given to Nasinu.

The Deputy Prime Minister says as soon as the contract ends this month, Nasinu Town Council will have its own trucks and system of collecting rubbish.

Minister for Housing, Maciu Nalumisa also says that Nasinu is one of the biggest municipalities in terms of population and it is one of the challenges now for them to tackle collecting the waste materials.

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