Tabuya defends statement against NFP and its leader

May 29, 2024 6:50 pm

Minister for Women and Children Lynda Tabuya has defended her statement against coalition partners, the National Federation Party and its Leader Professor Biman Prasad.

Yesterday afternoon NFP took out a statement claiming that the allegations made by Tabuya on Monday were for the most part false, possibly defamatory and in some cases breach Cabinet confidentiality.

The NFP further states that its leader Professor Prasad will not respond to those allegations as he will also be breaching Cabinet confidentiality.

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However, Tabuya says Prasad should not hide behind cabinet confidentiality now and answer what they already know and Fiji has a right to know.

She called on Prasad to respond to the allegations as nowhere in her media release on Monday did she refer to a cabinet deliberation or decision on the MPs salary and allowance issue.

Tabuya who is also the chair of the Emoluments Committee on Monday issued a statement to explain the parliamentary process and inform the public the truth about the involvement of all MPs, including NFP.

Tabuya says the Committee decided to engage an independent consultancy firm or individual as it strongly felt it should not be reviewing its own salaries and allowances.

Tabuya further states that after conducting the review, independent consultant Kevin Deveaux reported back to the Committee, which endorsed the recommendations.

She adds that the draft report of the independent consultant was ready in March and it was circulated to the three political party leaders in government as well as the Opposition.

Tabuya claims that the leader of NFP Biman Prasad lied in parliament and to the public in stating that he and his party only got notice of the report 48 hours before she moved the motion in parliament.

Tabuya states that NFP chose not to be members of the Emoluments Committee and when she raised the membership in caucus and spoke with the NFP Whip Pio Tikoduadua, he stated for the committee to go ahead and that they did not need to be in it.

Tabuya adds that for NFP to change their stance last minute and vote against the motion because of a party directive is simply an excuse to stall the parliamentary process.

Tabuya says the motion approved on Friday stipulates the effective date from 1st August to 31st December 2024.

She states that Prasad has lied to the public that no independent consultant was engaged.

She says she was to bring the motion in parliament last Wednesday but NFP tried to stall it with no good reason to disrupt the processes of parliament.

Tabuya claims that when NFP did not get their way at the Wednesday caucus meeting last week, she was reliably informed that NFP allegedly approached FijiFirst to open discussions on an NFP/FFP coalition.

Tabuya says Prasad issued a warning to the Prime Minister about the coalition agreement.

She adds this is not a new pattern of behavior for Prasad.

Tabuya claims Prasad blocked the 20 percent payment earlier this year owed to prison officers after the Job Evaluation Exercise in 2018 which the then Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stopped the payment which the prison officers felt was because he found out that they voted for the opposition in the 2018 general elections.

Tabuya claims that prison officers and high ranking officials in the Corrections Service knew about it and expressed their deep hurt and disappointment to her that the PA who stood for them allowed for NFP to stop the pay rise.

She further alleges that several coalition members lobbied for the minimum wage increase to be implemented with immediate effect last year when the coalition government came into power, but in her opinion this has been stalled by NFP who hold the employment portfolio and continue to appease their party backers who are business owners as well as using it as their own political platform.

Tabuya states that NFP glorifies itself in being principled but this is not about principles, this is about control, the need for Prasad to control what is paid out, when it is not his place to do so.

She states that this parliamentary process of emoluments is out of his control and in her opinion she has seen the frustration and anger in his demeanor and that is the reason why he and his MPs have opposed this motion, aside from the fact that he is opposing the reduction of his own salary from $235000 to $200000.

She says NFP was never going to oppose the recommendations, but wanted more time and used the party directive as an excuse to try to control the process.