‘A-G should clarify whether Fiji Airways owes Fiji Airports

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum during break in Parliament, yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum should clarify whether Fiji Airways owes Fiji Airports “a few million dollars in fees” and if the debt will be paid, given the airline will now manage the airport company.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said this in a statement where he criticised “the complete lack of transparency and secretive nature of the management deal”.

He said the issue was important because an overwhelming majority of the airline is now owned by the taxpayers and workers through Government and Fiji National Provident Fund shares.

Prof Prasad said only an independent financial inquiry involving an audit of Fiji Airways would provide a true picture of the state of the airline and its dealings.

“There are many conflicts of interest involved,” Prof Prasad said.

“Firstly, the Economy Minister’s ministerial duties put him in charge of Fiji Airways, Fiji Airports Ltd, FNPF, as well as the biggest lender of money to the airline as part of its $561 million guarantee, the Fiji Development Bank, albeit funds were channelled through FDB by Reserve Bank.

“Secondly, the chief executive officer of Fiji Airways is the chairman of the FDB board.

“Thirdly, at least two personalities are on the boards of directors of both Fiji Airways and FNPF.

“Fourth, annual reports of Fiji Airways have never been tabled in Parliament for scrutiny by the relevant parliamentary standing committee.

“And fifth, not a single shred of information has been made public by the Economy Minister on the exact nature of the management contract, its time frame and monetary value.”

He said an independent inquiry, including an audit, was absolutely necessary to unveil the true picture about why Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has “engineered this highly secretive deal”.

  • Questions sent to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum on the comments made by Prof Prasad remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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