Qereqeretabua questions AG how the $67 million allocated to Walesi has been used
AG and Walesi yet to respond

Qereqeretabua questions AG how the $67 million allocated to Walesi has been used

AG and Walesi yet to respond

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/12/2021
[Photo: file]

National Federation Party Vice-President and MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua is questioning the Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum how the $67 million allocated to Walesi has been used and why is Walesi still under the control of the Minister when it has evolved into a public enterprise since its formative stages 6 years ago in 2015.

Qereqeretabua says the 2019-2020 Report by the Auditor-General on public enterprises and other entities, which was tabled in Parliament on 23rd September this year, provided a modified or qualified opinion in respect of Walesi’s 2015 financial statement because of ineffective internal controls.

She says their analysis of the Auditor-General’s Report together with budgetary allocations for Walesi a few years before its launch shows a total allocation of over $67 million in taxpayers’ funds from 2015 to date.

Qereqeretabua says this is similar to over $80 million given as grant since 2012 to Fijian Broadcasting Commission, which was later converted to fees for public service broadcast of radio and television services.

She says by the end of the current financial year on July 31st 2022, the taxpayers of Fiji would have provided in excess of $150 million to both Walesi and FBC.

Qereqeretabua says in return, the taxpayers with less than $30,000 per annum as family income are rewarded with a free set-top box for Walesi, but now being forced to fork out money for a UHF antenna, cable and installation if they want to watch free-to-air television on the digital platform.

She says this comes soon after the Auditor-General established that the timeliness and quality of reporting of financial statements by Walesi was ineffective.

Qereqeretabua says they are not surprised by this finding and for the Auditor-General’s modified opinion because in the last 6 years, no Annual Report for Walesi has been tabled in parliament.

She says this is an entity that falls under the AG, who prides at warning others about corruption and consistently lectures about the need for transparency and accountability.

Qereqeretabua says they want answers from the Minister on the use of every single dollar of over $67 million in taxpayers’ funds before they divulge further details.

We have sent questions to Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Walesi for comments and clarification. They are yet to respond.

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