Tongan Parliament To Weigh In On Hosting Of 2019 Pacific Games

Prime Minister notes that PNG has withdrawn support of $15 million for games

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 21, 2017) – The Tongan Parliament has only 10 days to go before it must certify whether or not Tonga will host the 2019 Pacific Games. It must also pass the national budget for the 2017-2018 financial year due to start on 1 July 2017.

On top of these pressing issues, are a Motion, a Petition and Bills that parliament have to deal with within its remaining five normal working days.

During the morning session, Tuesday, 20 June the Legislature looked at a petition from Tongatapu Constituency no. 1 of the Prime Minister, calling for Tonga to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

The petition pointed out that in Constituency no. 1, a majority of voters, in fact 2349, did not vote for the Prime Minister.

“The sports will not happen,” said the Prime Minister.

Self-funded

There was also a verbal petition from Hon. Veivosa Light of Day Taka, the Chairman of the Whole House Committee for the salaries of members who want Tonga to host the 2019 Pacific Games to have their salaries deducted to fund the games.

Lord Nuku responded that if government wants their salaries for the games they can have them.

The Speaker reminded the Chairman that a petition must be presented in a written format with signatures.

The Chairman on a different issue relating to Tongan fruit pickers who had been accused for the abuse of under-aged Tongan girls in New Zealand threatened to impeach Lord Fusitu’a.

Moving

However, after lunch yesterday, 20 June, something like a cyclone hit the House. Government tabled into Parliament a new Budget Statement and a new Budget, and the PM moved for the House to vote on the Motion for an order for government to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

Lord Nuku queried the logic of voting on the Motion that had been tabled by himself and Vili Hingano,because the Motion is based on the figures in the old budget that government is proposing to replace with a new budget.

The budget has had its first and second reading in Legislature and is waiting to go to the Whole House Committee for debate and its third reading.

Lord Nuku queried the legality of amending a budget that has not been debated and passed by the House.

The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister argued that the reason for the new budget was because Papua New Guinea withdrew its support of $49m kina [US$15 million] for Tonga to host the games.

However, ‘Aisake Eke, the former Minister of Finance who drafted the budget that had been tabled into the House, told the House that the PNG contribution was actually not in the budget that had been tabled into parliament.

Hon. Mateni Tapueluelu, the Minister of Police pointed out that the House had been presented with two National Budgets, one for the Games and another (the latest) not for the Games.

Procedural error

Lord Nuku warned that parliament was trying to correct a budget that had not been debated by the House. “We are misleading the people,” Lord Nuku told the House.

Vili Hingano also reminded the House that there was also legislation to be amended.

Lord Tu’i’afitu reckoned that it was a case of putting a cart before the horse.

The Speaker called for the House to close for the day.

There will be no session tomorrow, 21 June so that members will have a day to study the new budget statement and the new budget.

The House will resume on Thursday, 22 June.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment