Role of advisory counsellors clarified

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, and Leader of Government in Parliament Inia Seruiratu during break between session at Parliament yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE Leader of Government in Parliament, Inia Seruiratu, yesterday clarified that the position of district advisory counsellors was not an entitlement.

During the Committee of Supply session in Parliament, Mr Seruiratu said some advisory counsellors thought their appointments were for life.

He said this was wrong and needed to be addressed.

“The problem is that some advisory counsellors think they are advisory counsellors for life. That is wrong, it is not an entitlement, it’s about service, service to the community. In fact it is a voluntary service to the community and the Government had recognised those services and now are rewarding them,” he said.

Mr Seruiratu admitted that there had been a delay in the appointment of advisory counsellors this year.

“The process is we advertise and they reapply where we do the vetting and scrutinising process.”

Mr Seruiratu also clarified that there was a process in appointing advisory counsellors which was very transparent.

“The appointment of advisory counsellors had always been a very sensitive subject from the beginning because most of the advisory counsellors have got political affiliations as well, and that is why this has always been a very sensitive issue.”

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said there had been a lot of issues with the appointment of the advisory counsellors.

“This Government is deliberately playing with the appointment of advisory counsellors,” he said.

“We were told that many advisory counsellors were not told whether their appointment will be revoked or not. They were not paid for about three months,” Prof Prasad claimed.

Mr Seruiratu confirmed that there are 302 advisory counsellors in Fiji — 10 for the Eastern Division, 141 for the West, 82 for the North and 69 for the Central Division.

The allowance budgeted for district advisory counsellors in the 2018/2019 National Budget is $740,030.