Prof. Prasad says there were crooks running some organisations while Koya asks for proof

Prof. Prasad says there were crooks running some organisations while Koya asks for proof

By Mansi Chand , Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 13/09/2023

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says there were crooks running some organisations, sitting on the board and were not able to fix and give value for its money while FijiFirst MP Faiyaz Koya says if Professor Prasad is labeling people as crooks then he should provide proof.

While debating the Land Transport Authority 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2016–2017 Annual Reports which were tabled in March this year, Professor Prasad says he cannot understand how an organisation does if the reports do not come in a timely manner and are not scrutinised by the Auditor General and the parliament.

He says this was a consistent problem and they, in the previous Opposition knew about the inability to bring annual reports on time.

Professor Prasad says the current Opposition were one of the most manipulative governments in terms of what was happening in the LTA, the board and the whole apparatus and adds the whole organisation was dysfunctional.

He says this is why they have not been able to get the reports on time.

While raising a point of order, FijiFirst MP Faiyaz Koya says time and time again, Professor Prasad is labeling accusations and calling people crooks and lairs but he should give proof.

Prof. Prasad says the proof will come and let them wait.

He says some have already been identified and the new board is on the dot and the government is going to make sure that we have a value for money and right process to follow.

While highlighting the dated annual reports, Minister for Transport, Ro Filipe Tuisawau says when he came into the Ministry, he noted that this is one of the biggest weaknesses in terms of monitoring, evaluation and reporting within the Ministry.

He says this is an inheritance from the last government which they will need to rectify and work on.

Ro Filipe says that not only includes reporting from within the Ministry, but also from the agencies like the LTA.

He says if there were efficient, effective monitoring systems from the previous administration, we might not have been in this situation.

The Minister further says the LTA Act needs to be looked at holistically and has highlighted that people can still sell their taxi permits and this is one of the major issues that they are looking at reviewing.

He says some permits are being sold at up to $100,000 and it has become an industry in itself.

He says that is an issue that continues to breed unethical practices.

He says the taxi lottery used to distribute taxi permits was just a joke and that is something that they are working on fixing and says they also need to resolve the open rank and base system which is contradictory.

Ro Filipe says the government has also inherited the infrastructure issue and a lot of those issues were because the previous government spent the Fiji Roads Authority budget in the first six months.

He says that is why many of the roads have potholes and many of the issues raised by the Opposition are outcomes of what has been happening in the last few years and it is a result of framework and systems which have been there for the last 10 or so years.

He also says that a lot of the roads have been neglected because the FRA in the past had said that they were non-FRA roads but now they are working on amalgamating the roads and ensuring that not only the institutions but the infrastructure moves forward as well.

Meanwhile, FijiFirst MP Naisa Tuinaceva says it is very disturbing that 80 percent of deaths occurred on the roads is due to speeding while a report released by Police mentioned that a total of 25,960 traffic infringement notices were issued for speeding offences only this year.

Tuinaceva says during that period of heavy booking, there were 56 deaths compared to 21 for the same period last year which is about a 170 percent increase.

He says he fully supports the committee's recommendation that the institutions responsible for road safety namely Police and LTA need to be proactive and to act beyond words.

He says traffic congestion is a complex issue with negative impacts that can not be over stressed as it generates all sorts of issues like air, noise pollution, mental and emotional stress.

The MP says the committee has emphasised traffic infringement notices issued during the period of review, the report shows there is an increase of 12 to 49 percent in traffic infringement notices given between 2014 to 2016 and the early start of 2017.

Tuinaceva says this indicates the determination of enforcement officers to monitor the traffic offences on the roads as stated under Sections 86 and 92 of the Act however this is a reactive approach as deaths on the roads are still on the rise.

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