FIJI AUDIT: QARASE MISUSED TAIWAN FUNDS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 23) – Fiji's Auditor General has highlighted the misuse of Taiwanese funds by the Prime Minister's office in his latest report, adding it did not comply with financial regulations.

The report revealed overspending of funds over a period of seven months last year.

Findings also revealed that the use of these funds was in most cases used to cover funding needs of new and special portfolio responsibilities taken on by the PM's office, also used in making up for shortfalls in the PM's budget.

Furthermore it found that funds supposed to be taken up by other government ministries and departments were not acquitted as per the allocation.

It revealed that the PM's office spent around $770,837 on communications alone, $58,237 more than the total budget for the support funds.

This covered the compilation and advertisement of former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's speeches.

Former chief executive officer in the PM's office Jioji Kotobalavu noted in the report that the last seven months of last year was an exception in the increased demand for Qarase to explain through public speeches Government's policy and stand on government relations with the military and Fiji's economy.

Kotobalavu said because of the expected high costs, the PM's office asked for funding from the Taiwan government.

"…In fact, it was one of the reasons that as far back as 2001, the Taiwan government was asked to fund the cost of the PM Qarase's preferred speech writer, Matt Wilson," he says in his recommendation.

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