FijiFirst General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who returned to Fiji on Thursday, was part of a meeting with all Opposition MPs and the Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama at the FijiFirst Party Headquarters yesterday.
He also held a press conference where he has raised concerns regarding the Coalition Government allegedly breaching the 2013 Constitution and blurring the lines of the separation of powers within the state.
Sayed-Khaiyum says everyone is equally able to practice their religion as stated in Section 4 of the Constitution but he claims the new Government is pushing out only one particular religion to the rest of the members of public.
He also highlighted Section 134 of the Constitution regarding various constitutional offices and says these officers cannot be removed from their positions unless it is for a cause.
Sayed-Khaiyum alleges the Attorney General and the Prime Minister’s Office called up some of the Constitutional Office Commissioners to resign.
He says they have received a few complaints from these Commissioners about this issue.
He says the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Attorney General have the authority to ask any of these Commissioners to resign.
He also mentioned that the Minister for Home Affairs, Pio Tikoduadua has asked the Commissioner of Police to resign but he has no right to do that as Tikoduadua is not the appointing authority.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says the Public Service Commission has no role to play in the appointment of Ambassadors.
He says Rabuka is seeking advice from the PSC regarding the appointment of the Ambassadors and High Commissioners but Section 128 of the Constitution states that the Prime Minister, on the advice of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which he is, may do the appointments and he can appoint them on his own advice.
He has also said that Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka has no right to tell Air Terminal Services to take back all the workers who lost their jobs during the COVID pandemic.
The former Economy Minister says even though the Government is a shareholder, Gavoka has no right to tell ATS what to do in terms of their employees and the same goes for Fiji Airways.
Sayed-Khaiyum stresses if this happens, then it can affect the public’s FNPF interest.
He also replied to the Prime Minister’s announcement of an investigation being conducted on those who received Capital Gains Tax exemptions saying there must be confidentiality in any documents received by Fiji Revenue and Customs Services.
He says the public’s or any business’ tax file cannot be picked up by the PM’s office and dropped into another office because it will completely undermine the taxation system and people's tax files would be used as political tools and can lead to corruption.
Sayed-Khaiyum has also questioned the Prime Minister as to what legal authority he has to tell board members of Government commercial companies and statutory bodies to resign or otherwise be removed.
He says there should be a cause in order to terminate or suspend these board members.
The former Minister for Economy has also claimed that the Government has already been making appointments for new members even before the closing date of the advertisement of these positions in the board.
He says it is very interesting to see that the Chair of the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Board made his own announcement and it is the first time he had noted that the Chair of a Board made his own announcement.
Sayed-Khaiyum says normally the Minister makes announcements on the appointment to a Board and the irony is that the Chair of the FBC Board is the founder of the People’s Alliance Party.
He asks how can we have a person so politically aligned being supposedly independent be Chair of a media entity.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the Chair made a big deal about only collecting $1 a year but there are many people who served under the previous Government in various boards who did not collect a single cent, let alone a dollar.
Sayed-Khaiyum further says the blurring of the lines between the judiciary and the legislature is quite worrying.
He says when Voreqe Bainimarama became the Prime Minister in 2014 and 2018, there was no traditional welcoming ceremony done by the Parliament and the reason why this was not done was to maintain a separation of powers.
He says it is like saying the Chief Justice should now do a traditional welcoming ceremony for the Prime Minister.
The Party’s General Secretary has also raised concerns about the appointments of Parmesh Chand and Peter Wise as Acting Permanent Secretaries.
He says Section 123 (i) of the Fijian Constitution states when you appoint people, recruitment and promotion should be based on objectivity, impartiality and fair competition.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there has been no job advertisement.
He says even before any of these people were appointed, they and some other people are being driven in Government vehicles and are holding no official positions.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they are apparently advisors and if so, were the jobs advertised and are they getting paid and if they are not paid then why are they using Government vehicles.
He also says that the Attorney General, Siromi Turaga announcing the setting up of a Land Claims Tribunal sends jitters to the financial system and the Minister for Finance should be concerned about it because if there is going to be compensation then does he have the money for that.
Sayed-Khaiyum has also raised concerns that there is no mini budget.
He says there are allocation for specific ministries under the current budget.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the current Government has rearranged the ministries which is their prerogative but there has been massive changes, realignments and creation of new ministries yet there has been no realignment of the budget estimates to these new ministries.
He further says the Minister for Finance needs to table in Parliament a quarterly financial report but how will he do that now when the Heads that were approved in the budget estimates in July last year do not correspond to the ministries now.
He says they hear that scholarships will be given by the Ministry of Multi-ethnic Affairs and the Ministry of Education yet at the same time there is an entity that has an experience of about 8 years which is the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board.
The former Economy Minister says the new Ministry of Multi-Ethnic Affairs and the Ministry of Education have absolutely zero experience in processing scholarships for TELS.
Sayed-Khaiyum also asks if Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica consulted Fiji Airways about issuing prohibition notice for Laucala Island’s Hangar or if he consulted the Minister for Home Affairs who needs to be concerned about defence and security as you have a hangar for domestic purposes being built where international planes will be off loaded and on loaded.
He says the rationale being given is that they are a rich company and therefore it should be facilitated.
He further says one Minister is telling a private company not to fire people yet and have been told that Ministry of Infrastructure, Fiji Roads Authority and Public Works Department can coexist but PWD will need $250 million worth of equipment to do the roads and asks where will they get the funding from.
Sayed-Khaiyum asks if they are going to go back to the old ways and hire from the same individual companies and no checks and balances and get ripped off.
He adds he has heard that a couple of private, local companies had to turn back services of their staff so Fijians are losing jobs because of the creation of all this.
The former Attorney General has criticised the Ministry of Education’s decision to go back to the three term structure and says he can show correspondence where the Fijian Teachers Association agreed with the then Minister for Education saying it is a good thing as teachers get more breaks and get emotionally and physically recharged.
He says they have also gotten rid of the school zoning system but it is the people who are not so well off who will not benefit from it.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the elites will enrol their children into schools of their choice and children living right next to the school may not get a position there as spots will be filled by those parents who have connections.
He has also criticised the Government’s policy where students travelling more than two stages will have to pay their own way but the FijiFirst Government never had that prohibition.
The former Minister has also criticised Government’s announcement regarding the 60 years retirement age but the appropriate regulation has not been amended and not been gazetted.
He says only a circular has been sent.
We have sent questions to the Office of the Prime Minister and are waiting for their response.
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