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Parliament discusses Government reply to a resolution submitted to the House regarding 2019 Games

 

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 19/06/2017

 

A reply from the Government to parliament’s resolution number 3, alleged that 3.9 million pa’anga was allocated as salaries and wages of the staff and chairman of the Organizing Committee – OC.

 

This was the reply to the resolution submitted to the house and was read this morning. The letter from Government pointed out that the TOP$28.7 allocated in the 2017 – 2018 budget estimate   should be amended so this fund could be diverted to increasing benefits for the Elderlies, as well as elevating assistance to the agricultural and fisheries sectors.
However a press release from the Organizing Committee refuted the figures quoted by government on their salaries and wages as INACCURATE.

 

It clarified that the salaries and wages of the OC totaled TOP$1.24 million from 2014 to date and the total budget allocated to their office is only TOP$3.16 million.

 

It added that the figures were audited and approved.

 

When the deliberations continued with the reply, government reaffirmed that the Reserve Money was not for loan repayment of for the hosting of the 2019 Games and that revenue collected was for other priorities and not sports only.

 

After Government’s reply was read in the House – Lord Tu’i’afitu said the Prime Minister had misused the term VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, and overused the statement.

 

But the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said he has was elected for 8 consecutive terms with the majority of the public’s votes.

 

However Lord Tu’ilakepa said there is concern that the incident that happened to a man who was attacked and assaulted for making negative comments about the Prime minister is a reason for worry. Because it can happen to any member of the house because it’s alleged that the attack was made by supporters of the prime minister.

 

The heated debates ended up with the Speaker of the House – Lord Tu’ivakano requesting the Prime Minister to respect the standing orders of the house.

 

When the house reverted to the whole house committee, concerns were raised alleging that government was lying in reference to the data and information provided on figures on the 2019 pacific games. However, government denied these allegations.

 

Former Minister of Finance – Dr. ‘Aisake Eke told the house,that government   was in a position to host the Games.  He said government had already allocated TOP$80 million for the games for the fiscal years up to 2019, apart from the 55 million pledged by China for the construction of facilities at Tonga High School and 8 million pa’anga also pledged by Australia.

 

However the Prime Minister said they’re only focusing on figures already written on the budget bill 2017-18 and that government won’t spend the whole expenses in one year’s budget, but they plan to divide these funds in the coming years up to 2019.

 

The Prime Minister also said, they have not received anything on Australia’s pledge – BUT Dr. ‘Eke said he has received a letter from the Australian High Commission in Nuku’alofa confirming their support.

 

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