Fijian MPs take a swipe at A-G

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad (left) along with SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka on their way out from Parliament last week. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

Opposition MPs took a swipe at Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum over State funding to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

The exchanges in Parliament followed Opposition MP Pio Tikoduadua’s motion to amend a budget of $3.7 million for the public service broadcaster to $3 million under the 2022-2023 National Budget.

Speaking on the motion, he said FBC continued to receive public funds without providing annual reports to Parliament.

In support of the motion, Opposition MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau said the services should be tendered because there was another television company, and “only then they would be able to know the value for money”.

Ro Filipe claimed Mr Sayed-Khaiyum paid a bonus of $20,000 to his “brother”.

He said it was obvious FBC was being used for government propaganda.

In response, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum labelled Ro Filipe a “twisted man” who had come up with a skewed opinion.

“You are a bitter man, you are extremely bitter and you are an extremist,” he said.

He said the Opposition continued to use the issue as a political gimmick.

Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had a habit of calling people names.

“He (Mr Sayed-Khaiyum) calls me twisted, I call him twisted, I can call him many names but I won’t,” he said.

He said taxpayers expected a fair and balanced coverage from FBC because it was “funded by the taxpayers of this country”.

“I do not care who runs the station or who is the CEO, that is not an issue for me and I have no problems with that.

“But the problem I have is the practice or the value for money because people out there (taxpayers) of this country expect a fair coverage.

“Everyone in this country knows what FBC does in terms of its news coverage.

“The people out there know, the women and children now know that it is a government propaganda outlet funded by the taxpayers.

“Fiji Times does not get any money from Government, CFL does not get any money from you.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Prof Prasad and Opposition MPs whole rationale for opposing the FBC because they thought they were biased.

“One said it is because of my brother and the honourable Professor Prasad said it is because that he feels the media organisation is biased, that is why.

“Both of those issues, in fact, negate the point that has been made in that they are providing a particular service which actually comes at a cost, and the cost that Government is paying is far less than what we are actually getting in return.”

Leader of Government in Parliament Inia Seruiratu and Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said FBC should be supported because of its reach, and was the only form of communication used to send natural disaster and health alerts to rural and maritime areas.

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