Finance Minister Khaiyum is not complying with accountability requirements under the Finance Management Act and Regulations.
The Act and Regulations (Part 7- Accountability Regs 42-48) require the Minister of Finance to table in the House of Representatives quarterly, half yearly and annual appropriation statements.
The quarterly appropriation statements (1st, 3rd and 4th quarters) are required to be tabled within 2 months of the close of the quarters to which they relate. Likewise, the mid-year fiscal statement must be tabled within 2 months after the close of the period to which it relates.
The Finance Minister is also required to table in the House of Representatives a whole of government annual report for each financial year. This report is to be submitted within 9 months after the end of the year or within a longer period approved by a resolution of the House of Representatives.
The whole of government financial statements must:
(a) be signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, and
(b) be as audited by the Auditor-General and be accompanied by the Auditor-General’s audit opinion.
Moreover, each Budget sector agency (departments/ministries) are required to prepare and make publicly available, for each financial year, an annual report which must be tabled in the House of Representatives. This report must:
(a) demonstrate the agency’s performance during the year
(b) include its financial statements
(c) include other information required by the Financial Instructions
Similar accountability requirements are prescribed for off-budget State entities under Regulations 51-53.
Fiji First government was elected in September 2014 but to date has not tabled any of the reports required under the Finance Act and Regulations. The reports of departments and ministries and off-budget State entities have also not been tabled.
There is complete disregard, if not absolute contempt, for accountability and transparency requirements by this government.
The law requires the Finance Minister to table the audited annual financial statements with the Auditor General’s report thereon by September each year. If there is to be a delay then such must be approved by a resolution of the House of Representatives.
The House sat in September and in October but neither were the annual financial statements tabled nor was the approval to table it at a later date sought by the Minister.
Such conduct demonstrates outright contempt for the law and must not be tolerated.
The Opposition needs to do much more to expose such cavalier behavior on the part of Finance Minister Khaiyum.
The Speaker, too, should be vigilant in such matters – reports and documents required to be tabled in the House on specified times must be produced. The Speaker must make it her/his business to censure the government if it does not comply or seek an extension of time as prescribed in the law.