FIJI TAXPAYER IS LOSER IN POLITICAL SPAT

Editorial

Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Oct. 16) – We have just wasted a few thousand dollars on surcharging a senior civil servant in Fiji under the wrong law.

Not only have our State lawyers spent hours preparing for the case, money and resources have also gone into it as well.

In the other camp, the Royal Fiji Military Forces has also spent time, money, manpower and other resources to defend its commander.

Taxpayers have footed both bills but have had no say in the matter.

Now that the verdict is out, not only has one taxpayer-funded side lost, it has to pay FJ$800 (US$476) in court costs. This extra cost, again, will have to be paid for by none other than the taxpayers.

The loser here is not the Government. It is the taxpayers. They are the victims of a petty squabble between two factions in government that has gone out of hand.

And, if history has a habit of repeating itself as it does, there doesn't appear to be any reconciliation in sight between the two parties in the near future.

It was obvious from the start when the Government began disciplinary measures against the Royal Fiji Military Forces commander that the fight had become personal.

As much as the Government would like to deny it, the disciplinary measures were not just aimed at recovering money or correcting a problem.

It was also aimed at hitting the commander where it would hurt the most — in his pockets.

Even the judge mentioned the behavior of the Minister of Finance in this case by:

Not granting an audience with the commander to personally discuss the problem, and

While the commander might be rubbing his hands in glee at winning the battle, the war has gone long enough.

It is now bordering on wasteful and distasteful. The money spent on this case could have been better utilized elsewhere.

There are roads to fix for users, jobs to find for the unemployed, food to give to the poor, housing to shelter the low income earners and skills to impart to the beggars.

This case could have been better handled. It didn't have to go to the courts. The problem is both sides just won't give in.

And stuck in the middle are the over-burdened taxpayers.

October 17, 2005

Fiji Times http://www.fijitimes.com

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