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TASANOC could have continued to host the Pacific Games 2019 – but Lords Vaea and Sevele say, government’s intervention to cancel it is a great pity

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 16/05/2017

 

There are three authorities that should decide together the future of the Pacific Games 2019 in Tonga.

 

FIRST – The council of the Pacific Games chaired by Vidhya Lakhan – who owns the games. This Council’s local representative is the Organizing Committee chaired by Lord Sevele of Vailahi.

 

SECOND – is the Tonga Amateur Sports Association or TASANOC who owns the right to host the Pacific Games Whose Vice President is Lord Vaea.

 

THIRDLY – is the Government which is supposed to be independent and support the sports.

 

These statements were by Lord Vaea and Lord Sevele of Vailahi tin an exclusive interview with Radio and Television Tonga yesterday.

 

Lord Vaea said the Government has no direct connection to the sports as TASANOC hold the rights to be host

 

He said they’ve received phone calls from overseas partners including the Pacific Games Council – querying the current situation of the upcoming sports YET they have not received anything from the Government on its decision.

 

Lord Vaea said a meeting was held last Thursday with the Prime Minister and he recalls  that Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva only spoke happily of the golf course at Popua, a  project that he made without any clear information on who is the owner of this park and how it is funded.

 

Lord Vaea elaborated that the new budget for the coming fiscal year has allocated TOP$70 million towards the sports – but with this cancellation, what will happen to the multi million pa’anga promised from various places.

 

Meanwhile, Lord Sevele of Vailahi says there are levels where communication should flow to, but now the Government only decides what itg wants, leaving them behind.

 

This contradicts with the agreement they made after winning the bid to host the sports.

 

Lord Sevele added the reason provided by Government for the cancellation of sports was outdated and untrue.

 

He said Government said an advice from World Bank and the International Monetary Fund stated several risks of unforeseen increases in expenditure especially wages on Pacific Games which might lead to extra financial burden and threatening debts.

 

BUT the report provided, was written by someone who does not support the sports and it was dated to 2013.

 

Sevele added a recent report from IMF said that the 2019 Pacific Games will be a boom to the services and tourism industry.

 

Not only that but recent reports reveal growth in the economy due to the construction for the Pacific Games.

 

Lord Sevele then went on to say that Tonga has signed more than 60 million pa’anga with its foreign partners including China and NZ – but after the Government’s decision – they are not aware of what will happen next.

 

 

Lord Vaea was worried over what responses we will make to our overseas partners because of this cancellation.

 

He said it will be embarrassing to contact their partners and return their funding assistance because they have nothing to do with this cancellation and they were not aware or told of government’s decision.

 

Lord Sevele then said  this is not a small matter – because once we inform the Sports council of our current circumstance, we will wait for another 50 years before we’re given another chance to host any Oceania sports.

 

Lord Vaea then said it is vital that  Government come up front and inform the public of what is happen instead of  the leader  travelling  overseas and let others handle the problem.

 

On another development on the same subject, Radio Tonga’s Talkback show relayed several members of the public saying they believe the Government had made the best move to prevent any mishap   that could arise from the risks of financial difficulties.

 

Others say they no longer have confidence in Government and they should resign because it lied about having the ability to host the sports.

 

Others also believe this is a good choice so that all the funding towards sports be diverted to other development work such as road maintenance, health and education.

 

BUT THIS FUNDING IS UNDER AN AGREEMENT FOR SPORTS AND IT CANNOT BE DIVERTED TO OTHER CAUSES UNTIL AGREED UPON WITH THE DONOR PARTIES.

 

Meanwhile, Radio Tonga spoke to the Former Minister of Finance – Dr. ‘Aisake Eke and he said Government should take up the advice of the Finance Minister who is fully aware of the kingdom’s current financial position.

 

He said government needs to provide more information about why they are withdrawing from hosting the 2019 Pacific game, because it could have been held.

 

He said there are other alternatives that could generate income to sports which reduces risks of Tonga facing another debt.

 

Eke said with the assistance of donors such as China, PNG and Australia, the games would not have been too much of a burden.

 

He said he believes the withdrawal might also be down to a personality clash  between the Prime Minister and chair of the organizing  committee  and although the court  has made its decision, but  he  believes that could have been the basis of the decision and they probably used financial situations for  begin a scapegoat.

 

TO DATE, NO ONE FROM GOVERNMENT HAS COME FORWARD TO MAKE A STATEMENT ABOUT THE ISSUE.

 

© Radio and Television Tonga News