Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fijian Savings Scheme

Study a waste of money: A-G

Last updated 12/23/2007
A study commissioned by the ousted Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Government to look into the viability of a proposed scheme that would benefit indigenous Fijians and Rotumans which cost about $162,000 has been considered a waste of public funds.
The Auditor General’s 2007 special investigation report revealed the National Savings Scheme was initially a blueprint programme and the objective was to instill a savings culture within the target group and help them build a capital fund to finance future business and investment activities. The report said Fijian Holdings Limited was engaged to carry out a feasibility study that would determine the long term viability of the scheme.
The report of the study was to assist government in deciding whether to approve of reject the scheme concept based on key financial investment analysis.
It is understood that part five of the agreement between government and FHL on January 20, 2006 provided for a VAT inclusive fee of $102,000 comprising consultancy services of $90,000 and reimbursable expenses not exceeding $12,000.
In May 2006, the scope of the study expanded to include other races and the PM’s Office and FHL deliberated on the changes to the terms of reference between March and May 2006.
This extended scope the report said amounted to an additional $60,000 was approved by the Major Tenders Board in August 2006.
The AG recommended that unless the government used the report, it might be just one of the many reports that were shelved for some reason that government was not prepared to be transparent about.
“Consequently, if the government would like specific areas to be covered in a study such as this with conclusive results, these should be clearly described in the scope and deliverables of the study.
“Unless this happens, the expenditure of $162,000 may therefore be considered a waste of public funds,” the report said.
Former chief executive officer in the PM’s office Joji Kotobalavu said the report was studied by the then SDL led government and the usefulness of it was that it informed government that a scheme for compulsory savings exclusively for Fijians would not be in accord with Fiji’s Constitution.

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