TIME FOR ACTION ON FIJI’S PUBLIC FRAUD

Editorial

FijiSUN

SUVA, Fiji (Sept. 28) – Another Auditor General’s report delivers another litany of incompetence, negligence and downright fraud in the administration of public funds.

That’s the money we pay in taxes, duties, licenses and in the various other ways in which governments relieve us of our hard earned dollars.

That’s also just the money the Government takes the trouble to collect from us while a few escape without being forced to stump up.

That few accounts for an amount of $120 million (US$68.3 million).

But what is more appalling than any of this is the fact that it is repeated year in, year out no matter which government has been given the stewardship of the public purse. And no less appalling is the lack of action that follows each Auditor General’s report – no matter how shocking the revelations.

It might seem as though the civil service is out of control, blithely ignoring the law of the land while bungling, fumbling and cheating its merry way to mayhem.

Yet it should be remembered that the sums involved are relatively small compared to the State’s overall budget. Nevertheless, nothing is more certain to destroy public faith in the system than the seemingly endless stream of auditor generals’ reports detailing the malaise among those entrusted with our money.

Each year the government watchdog recommends that the guilty people be surcharged and each year little or nothing is done.

It’s time for change. And now that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee wrangle appears to be over, the public can at least hope that some action will follow the Auditor General’s report to Parliament.

The PAC is the body that reviews the report and recommends action. Unfortunately, however, it depends on Parliament to institute such action. But until firm action is taken the abuse, the fraud, the scams, the bungles and the wastage are certain to continue.

September 28, 2004

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