Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Charter Salaries A Secret

It's too much, says Momoedonu

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

FORMER diplomat Ratu Tevita Momoedonu says the salary for five overseas consultants working for the National Council of Building a Better Fiji was too much for a small country like Fiji.

He was reacting to reports that taxpayers were paying about $772,080 in salary to five consultants, including John Samy, for 10 months for their work with the council.

Ratu Tevita said the Constitution which set the guideline for the general election was still in place, so there was no need for the charter.

"This charter was only needed after the instability which began after December 2006," he said.

"Fiji can still go ahead without the charter because the Constitution is still in place."

Ratu Tevita said the country could write about 10 charters, attractive as it may be, but the bottom line would be on the military leader.

"If the military leader who has got arms and ammunition is not happy with the policies of the Government, no charter will stop him from staging another coup."

Ratu Tevita said that he doubted the NCCBF would be able to complete their work by October.

The breakdown of the budget for the NCBBF for this year stated that secretariat director Mr Samy, has a salary of $157, 500.

The other four consultants have salaries ranging from $90,000 to $194,790."

Majority say no to Charter, but 'ayes' close behind

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

A THREE-DAY text-message survey has found that respondents were almost evenly split on the whether People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress would be good for Fiji.

The "nays" held the majority by a narrow margin of just 0.4 per cent.

This comes as around 46.2 percent of respondents (761) in this weekend's Txt Times survey disagreed with the plan to set up a People's Charter.

The three-day survey also found that 45.8 per cent (755) agreed that the Charter would be good for Fiji.

The survey, which ran from 8am Friday to 6pm Sunday, saw around 7.9 per cent of respondents (130) unclear in their response.

The survey was only available to prepay users of Vodafone and Inkk services.

The greater majority of respondents - 1141 people - were Vodafone prepay users (69.3 per cent) while Inkk users made up 30.7 per cent of the responses (505).

The statistics generated also showed an interesting difference between the users of the two types of prepay services.

Vodafone prepay users made up of a mixture of youth and more mature customers were more inclined to say that the Charter was not good for Fiji (49.4 per cent - 564).

Six per cent of Vodafone prepay respondents were unclear on the issue (68), while 44.6 percent agreed that the Charter would be good (509).

Some of the responses that disagreed with the Charter said: "It's a waste of time and taxpayers' money", "money spent on it could be better utilised in priority areas like health, education, road and sea transport and at this point in time not good. Only when elected Government in office, people will freely express and participate with clear conscience".

Inkk users on the other hand - made up mostly of the younger people were more inclined to agree that the Charter would be good for Fiji (48.7 per cent - 246).

Around 12.3 per cent of Inkk respondents (62) were unclear on the Charter, while 39 per cent did not agree with the Charter (197).

Some of the responses that agreed said: "If they can decrease the prices of goods and for them to think of the poor than I think it is yes", "because there will be peace in our environment" and "it should be possible so that we may progress in a successful way because if not crime will increase rapidly in Fiji".

Txt Times plans to run this survey again when post pay users are able to enter, as well as conduct similar surveys on other issues of national interest.

Charter salaries queried
Monday, April 14, 2008-www.fijitimes.com

TAXPAYERS are paying about $772,080 in salary to five overseas consultants for 10 months.

The consultants have been paid for their work on the preparation of the proposed People's Charter which is due in October.

The money paid to the five people have drawn a lot of criticism from political parties.

The breakdown of the budget for the National Council of Building a Better Fiji secretariat for this year obtained by this newspaper, states that secretariat director John Samy has a salary of $157,500.

The other four consultants have salaries ranging from $90,000 to $194,790.

Two consultants, M. Moriarty and E. Attridge are paid $194,790 each while R. Nair is paid $135,000.

The fourth consultant, R.A. Herr is paid $90,000.

Mr Samy said he would not answer to queries on the matter because he had been directed by the co-chairs of the NCBBF.

"I'm sorry, I cannot answer your questions because of the direction of the co-chairs, the interim Prime Minister and the Archbishop.

"When we meet on Monday, I will show them your questions before I can answer you," Mr Samy said.

Some political parties said the salary of the consultants was outrageous and scandalous.

National Federation Party president Pramod Rae said the way the interim regime was spending money on the proposed Charter was outrageous and yet the outcome of it still remained elusive.

"It's scandalous, given the secretive way this government is doing it's business.

"The tender process and what exactly the consultants come to do, no one knows," Mr Rae said.

He added that no one could understand why the interim Government was diverting so much money to overseas consultants at a time when they cut the pay of civil servants and did not even give them COLA or a pay increase.

The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party said the interim Government did not have the mandate to use taxpayers' money in such a way, because it was an illegal regime.

"What is this charter going to do to us and what will the consultants' work bringing to us?

"The charter won't make it right for us because it's illegal and was brought about by an illegal regime," Mr Kinivuwai said.

NCBBF member Desmond Whiteside said in a press conference last week that money was not the issue.

"In any process of this magnitude there will definitely be costs involved, printing the consultation papers and holding meetings will be an expensive exercise," said the president of the Fiji Manufacturers Association.

His remarks come after persistent questions from the media on a breakdown of the costs involved in drafting the charter including the salary of individuals on contract.

The NCBBF will print about 200,000 booklets of the consultation document for the preparation of the State of the Economy report to be distributed among the populace and Mr Whiteside agreed the costs involved would be enormous but was nonetheless necessary to have a wider scrutiny by the public.

Nasinu mayor Rajeshwar Kumar said there was a cost attached to everything but there was the issue of timeliness involved.

"It's not a secret that we will never reveal. We will tell the media but only when the time is right," he said.

The role of the media was re-emphasised by council with member Jokapeci Koroi asking the news corps to play their role and inform and engage the people to the work of the NCBBF "so that what they want is included in the Charter".

"We are relying on individuals to come forward with their views and we will need the help of the media to take the message across.

"The media plays a key role," the Fiji Labour Party president stressed.

The interim Government has allocated $2.4million to the NCBBF to draft a charter that is in accordance with the people who took part in the discussions and handed to the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo on October 10.

The NCBBF will hold a special meeting at the police academy in Nasova tomorrow.

Commodore Bainimarama and Archbishop Petero Mataca decided the council needs to deliberate further on some urgent issues including preparations for the election next year. The Electoral Commission will make a presentation at the meeting.

I’ve sacrificed a lot: Samy
Publish date/time: 14/04/2008 -www.fijivillage.com
The Head of the Technical Support Secretariat for the National Council for Building a Better Fiji stressed that he is receiving one third of the fees normally paid to him.

John Samy said he also worked free of charge for 10 months doing preparatory work on the NCBBF and People's Charter process last year, and said he has sacrificed a lot by charging a reduced fee to work for the charter team.

Samy receives an after tax pay of 12 thousand dollars a month, a house and a car.

Although the NCBBF budget states that Samy's salary is $157,500 Swamy said his salary was lower than the budgeted amount.

Swamy revealed these details as questions continued to be raised for the NCBBF to reveal the salary details of the overseas consultants.

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