Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fiji Military Overspending for Dirty Politicking

Posted on Matavuvale.com - 16 February 2010

The military overspent its budget in every year from 2003-2007 – in total by $118 million over the five year period. Total spending reached $100 million in 2006, well ahead of the budgeted $76.5 million, and some of this money was used to campaign against the government.

When Telecom Fiji paid the RFMF $1.5 million to install telephone satellite stations in villages, the commander drew on those funds to pay for his truth and justice campaign against the Qarase government’s RTU Bill.

The pattern continued after the 2006 coup, but without the earlier restraints. ‘We did bust our budget’, admitted land force chief-of-staff Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, ‘but that was a national necessity for us’. The army had responded by cutting rations, severing pay for reservists and cancelling training programs, he explained, but admitting also that shortages of funds had meant that ‘we had to go borrow all the government vehicles’.

Such belt-tightening did not extend to the senior command. In mid-2008, Bainimarama received $184,740 payout from Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry for leave not taken extending back to 1978.

Around 40 other senior officers also received substantial sums in backpay. For the junior ranks, rewards were not quite so generous, but – as the economy slackened and urban jobs were lost under the impact of the coup – even salaries for the rank-and-file contrasted favourably with those received elsewhere in the civil service. In total, the RFMF staffing establishment received a 39 percent increase in salaries. Funds budgeted for the Ministry of Health were allegedly raided to pay for the military’s budget blowout.

Taken from "Good Governance by Militarization,

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