Sunday, November 25, 2012

2013 Law & Order Budget Allocation is Dead Investment

by Sai Lealea

For a small country, it defies common sense and prudent fiscal management to continue to throw money at dead sectors of the economy. Yet this has become a cornerstone of the Bainimarama regime when it comes to allocating scarce National Budget resource at those arms of the State that keeps his illegal rule in place. While its Law and Order allocation for Budget 2013 reveals a slight reduction from previous budget, it still masks the fact that any significant infusion of money in that area is money lost in generating actual economic growth. 
 Budget Allocation for Law & Order Departments:

2012 revised
Prison & Corrections
 One wonders what is actually spent on the military Budget of over $100 MILLION other than to continue to maintain a standing force at the illegal PM's pleasure. As it is mostly operational, it just means they are being paid just to exist. It is no wonder military personnel are having to be given jobs outside of their area of training and qualifications. Is that why we have current and former military staff chairing, managing and coaching Fiji rugby teams, and with disastrous effect? I am told in most 7s rugby tournaments in Fiji, teams from the various services are regularly more than well represented. Perhaps it may not be long when Fiji rugby teams for overseas tours are made up of only service players. Pray it never happens, and one can only feel sorry for any outsider wanting to coach such a bunch of military clones. 

Fiji Military - getting paid to exist
 That over supply of badly directed human capital is a cost on the economy as it reduces the price of good quality labour (those better qualified but shoved aside) with its attendant effect on overall productivity and morale. Bainimarama may think he is doing a favour on the unemployed by recruiting more into his military. But if Labour Minister Jone Usamate is man enough, he should tell him that demand for labour is "derived" and has to be real and not manufactured. Otherwise, it will cheapen it pushing down wages and force more into poverty. Even Bainimarama's plan to turn university students into farmers will not be sufficient to turn it around.

The fact is Fiji is reaping the consequence of a crime surge that can be blamed at the regime's misrule. Under the Bainimarama regime, Law and Order has become a growth industry. As the regime maintains a tight grip on power, citizens are reacting against it which in turn fuels the regime's incessant appetite to go after those it regards as culprits. In the event no tangible case can be mounted against them, it is fabricated based on spurious historical grounds that would not stand a chance in a proper court system. Illegality begets illegality. Just refer to the stories and reports of former judges and magistrates who have since been booted out for daring to question how justice is dispatched in Fiji under the tight direction of both Khaiyum and Chief Justice Gates. 

Dictator Bainimarama's illegal Ministers

Dictator Bainimarama therefore sounds shallow and hypocritical when he calls on "citizens to build country based on honesty" when it is widely known that his regime operates under a climate of fear and dishonesty. Why else would they not allow audited accounts of government finances? How about the salary of his illegal ministers? What is there to hide if they're conducting government honestly? These are among the many questions one would have expected journalists and reporters to have asked at those Budget press conferences. Sadly there is no record of it being asked or what the responses were.  

Even worse when civil servants (not those military stooges parachuted into positions) themselves become party to this type of dishonest behaviour and conduct. And if that gets embedded in the civil service culture, its once proud reputation and credibility will continue to decline. These are dangerous times for the Fiji civil service and no amount of pretense from those who have become converts to the Bainimarama gospel will exonerate their part in enthusiastically embracing the gospel and acting on it with minimal public scrutiny or ethical integrity. 

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