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$35k celebration query

Litia Cava
Thursday, November 23, 2017

FORMER prime minister and Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has described the planned celebration by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs to welcome the COP23 president and delegates as "premature and waste of public funds".

In a press conference on Monday, the permanent secretary for the ministry, Naipote Katonitabua, said about $35,000 was set aside for the celebrations.

"The expenditure of $35,000 from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is uncalled for and premature given there is much more work to be done by the presidency of COP23 over the next year until the handover to the next presidency at COP24, in November 2018," Mr Rabuka said in a statement.

Mr Rabuka said the COP23 presidency had just begun its 12-month term and a lot of work was yet to be done.

"There is a lot of work to be undertaken, more negotiations and numerous meetings and consultations to be conducted during the president's one-year term before he hands over the baton to his successor next November."

People's Democratic Party leader Lynda Tabuya echoed similar sentiments.

"The splurge of $35,000 just to welcome back the COP23 delegation is excessive and a slap in the face of poverty.

"I call on the cancellation of this extravagant spending and the Government to reshift its focus to taking care of the majority of our people who live under the poverty line," Ms Tabuya said.

She also raised the question as to who would benefit from this celebration.

"Please for the sake of humanity, decency and respect, let us be more thoughtful to our people suffering in silence and cancel the party, and focus on the real everyday bread and butter issues that affect our people," Ms Tabuya said.

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