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A-G: Parties fearful

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, January 19, 2013

POLITICAL parties are fearful of disclosing their assets and liabilities and have instead embarked on a personal attack on Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

That's the view of Attorney-General and Minister for Electoral Reform Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Speaking to this newspaper, the A-G said if existing political parties had the widespread support that they claimed then they would have no objections to the Political Party Registration Decree 2013.

"The fact of the matter is, if you are a transparent political party and if you have widespread support then there are no issues. But unfortunately, none of these politicians are telling the real story about why they are objecting to this decree. They're all going on about the 28 days and they say it is too onerous. At the same time they all claimed to have a political party that is open to everybody and claimed to have a political party that is transparent," he said.

"The real reason, which has come out today in the joint statement by the so-called Democratic Front, is the issue of assets and liabilities. In the statement they are attacking the A-G and the PM, making all sorts of allegations while we have not made allegations about anybody. The government has not made allegations nor personalised this issue. The reason they have personalised this is because they are all fearful of making known their assets and liabilities," he said.

The A-G said should anyone in the current administration decide to take up an official position in a political party, they would also have to declare their assets, finances and properties, like everyone else.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum's comments came in reference to a joint statement issued by a group calling themselves the United Front for a Democratic Fiji where the signatories — leaders of the Fiji Labour Party, Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party, United People's Party, National Federation Party and the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions — called on the PM and A-G to disclose their income, assets and properties.

"They must, in keeping with their oft-repeated calls for transparency and accountability, declare their finances and assets and liabilities to the nation ahead of asking political parties and their officials to do so.

"The Prime Minister must also explain to the people why, as Finance Minister since 2008, he has refused to accede to repeated calls to publish government accounts and finances and the Auditor General's reports thereon, as required under the Finance Management Act," the statement by the group read.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: "The public accounts committee is working through that. We are playing catch up because this has not been done from prior to 2006.

"There is an active public accounts committee notwithstanding the fact that not many people are coming forward because of the issue of travel bans.

"They are working through all the records but we are not rushing through to get this published because if we do then that is another issue. The public accounts committee is going through the motions, that's on public record," the A-G said.





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