Lenora: There appears to be dangerous and systematic collusion

Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua speaking at parliament. Picture: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji

Any housewife can teach the Minister for Economy “not to spend more than you earn” and “to save for a rainy day”.

Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua said the Government’s solution to an already dire economic outlook, “even as clearly spelled out by the IMF and global rating agencies”, is to drown the country in more debt.

She said this while debating a government motion for Parliament to approve the extension of government guarantee from $170 million to $250 million for the 12-month period from March 1, 2021, to February 28, 2022, (guarantee period) for the Fiji Development Bank borrowings through the issuance of short and long-term bonds, promissory notes, term deposits, other short term borrowings and any Reserve Bank of Fiji financing facility; and that a guarantee fee of 0.075 per cent be applied on the cumulative utilised guarantee credit.

“Instead, the people of Fiji are being given $360 and access to their pension funds to save themselves, while millions are pilfered away to save Fiji Airways,” she said.

“The FDB has not even bothered to table a 2020 Annual Report, surely, one should have thought that a new CEO taking over, and his board would make institutional governance and accountability a priority? Clearly not as we can see by this motion.

“The FDB suddenly paused its COVID-19 Recovery Credit Guarantee Scheme, surely they will be making excuses to the public that 60 per cent of those who applied have been dealt with, but 40 per cent are probably waiting for today’s bailout.

“Even then this House has not been given any clear data about those 60 per cent applications, and the envisaged results of being given public funds.

“And how will we ever know about what the true financial situation is, if FDB refuses to be accountable to this House?

“There appears to be dangerous and systemic collusion as detailed by honourable Professor Prasad’s response to the Fiji Airways motion earlier, by the Fiji Development Bank, and the RBF and it is almost criminal.”

She urged the Office of the Auditor-General to look carefully at what was going on and specifically the correspondence and reports that honourable Prasad referred to.

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