$50 million to upgrade rural
roads,bridges,jetties and crossings over 3 years
is grossly inadequate.
Finance Minister Khaiyum announced yesterday that the money given to Fiji Roads Authority is to fund 151 projects to fix rural roads, bridges, jetties and crossings – it includes construction of new and upgrading of existing roads. (FT 3 Feb).
We say that the $50m is a pittance for the work required to fix our badly neglected rural infrastructure. The MOUs signed between the ministries involved and FRA lists the projects but is silent on funds allocated to each of them.
$50 million over 3 years will make available approximately $17 million per year which knowing the high cost component of rural projects, will not get much done. Khaiyum is already talking of the difficulties of getting good quality gravel in Kadavu and is thinking of shipping it from Viti Levu.
Well, can you imagine what that will cost the taxpayer?
We have looked at the 4 MOUs (one for each division) but have not found any reference to the money allocated to each division. The MOU is silent on this very crucial aspect.
Our enquiries with FRA revealed that they had not received any funds as of today. We were told that they will need to apply and follow the normal civil service procedure.
Yet, the publicity seeking Khaiyum gets his propaganda through. The Fiji Times tells the nation on its front page that $50 million have been allocated. The newspaper did not bother to check with the FRA whether it had received the money nor did it ask any questions as to how much had been allocated to each division or why good quality gravel cannot be sourced in Kadavu.
We are into the second month of this year. The allocation has been announced but no money has been transferred as yet. When will it be done so that the works can commence?
Or is there a serious cash flow problem?