The military’s extra-budgetary expenditure in 2007 was noted and properly regularized by promulgation under the Financial Management Act.
“There was no fraud committed as claimed by NFP’s Pramod Rae. Nor was I “sleeping on the job”. Mr Rae might want to know that had I been sleeping on my job, I wouldn’t be thrashing NFP at every election in the past 10 years,” said Mahendra Chaudhry who was Minister of Finance in 2007.
“There is nothing sinister about the expenditure. The country was in a crisis situation and a state of emergency had been declared by the President. The military had to carry out operations that were not provided for in the Budget,” he said.
It should be noted that in the wake of the takeover of December 2006, the army had to contend with issues of national security as well as the law and order situation in the country.
Deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had requested assistance from Australia, and the presence of armed Australian warships and Black Hawk helicopters were detected in Fiji’s territorial waters. External threat to our national security was very real.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that the army maintained checkpoints and carried out regular patrols to maintain law and order in the country for almost six to seven months after the December takeover, often doing the work of the Police Force.
As Finance Minister I reported the over-expenditure to Cabinet together with the reasons given by the RFMF in support of exceeding their allocated budget. Cabinet regularised the additional expenditure under the Financial Management Act.
NFP’s Pramod Rae should get his facts right before shooting off his mouth.