Prof. Prasad says funding for Girmit is all accounted for after questions from Chaudhry and Rinesh Sharma

Prof. Prasad says funding for Girmit is all accounted for after questions from Chaudhry and Rinesh Sharma

By Rashika Kumar , Karishma Kumari , Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 14/05/2024

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says the government has every record and accountability of every cent that was spent for Girmit Day last year and everything has been accounted for.

This comes as former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry and FijiFirst MP Rinesh Sharma questioned the budget for Girmit Day and how the money was spent.

While speaking on fijivillage Straight Talk with Vijay Narayan on the budget for the Girmit Day celebration, Chaudhry says there was a lack of transparency and accountability in the use of Girmit celebration funds last year.

He says Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka made a public statement that the accounts will be published after the celebrations. However, it is still not available, and they are still waiting.

Sharma in a Facebook post says the coalition government has approved $500,000 for the Girmit Day celebrations which includes a two-day conference.

Professor Prasad states the above post by Sharma is misleading.

Professor Prasad says in 2023, the total budget was $500,000 but the total expenditure was $380,308.76.

He says from this money, $125,000 came through sponsorship and the government utilised $255,308.76.

He further says the Global Girmit Institute was the only institute who could organise an international conference in such a short period of time.

He says his wife was a trustee of the organisation many years ago and is no longer there.

Professor Prasad says for them to say that he gave money to his wife is the type of warped logic they are trying to come up with.

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He says they allocated $230,000 for this year, not the $500,000 claimed by Rinesh Sharma.

Professor Prasad also says $30,000 was for some upgrade work at the Lautoka Girmit Centre and $200,000 was allocated for the commemoration. Professor Prasad says it is a political ploy because Chaudhry, FijiFirst party member Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and other FijiFirst MPs are trying to say that there is something wrong with Girmit celebrations.

He says Chaudhry should be the last man talking about transparency and accountability because he was hiding $2 million in Australia and claimed that the money was given to him to settle in Australia.

The Deputy Prime Minister adds as long as he is Finance Minister he will not sign on anything until all the procedures have been followed and they cannot waste money.

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