THE Education and Women’s Affairs Minister yesterday (July 30th) was disappointed that the Tongatapu 1 constituency MP for his claims that there is a misused of TOP$700,000 a donor aid from Australia.
Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki told the Legislative Assembly that ‘Akilisi Pohiva told the New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, McCully during his visit to the kingdom last week that the Ministry of Education misused donor funds.
The Hon. Minister also mentioned that Mr. Pōhiva also told the visiting New Zealand MP that she was trying to keep the issue a secret.
She said, Mr. Pōhiva and Ha’apai 12 MP constituency, Mo’ale Finau came to her last Friday with a letter questioning the issue.
She explained that a report on the issue will be later submitted to the House for the MPs to look at. However she informed Parliament that government and both New Zealand and Australia are working to investigate this serious allegation.
“…Government is shocked even myself and the ministry, where this story came from. What we do we always try to be transparent and every action we make we act according to the law.
The works within the ministry are audited and the financial aid is also independently audited. There is nothing from those audit works that says there’s corruption within the ministry or I am corrupted,” explained Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki.
She went on to say that Tongatapu 1 MP told the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and the visiting Parliamentary delegation that was in Nuku’alofa last week.
Dr. Taufe’ulungaki also mentioned “they are looking at the matter and once all paper work are ready it will then be reported to the House and the public to be aware of.
She also noted there is a direct impact of such accusation on the ministry’s performance.
“The ministry’s contribution to schools and the salary of the 51 staff under the donor aid program has been affected. The fund allocation is yet to be carried out until this serious allegation is settled,” said the Hon. Minister.
Mr. Pōhiva took to the floor and maintained that the Hon. Minister herself confirmed there was misappropriation of the TOP$700,000 donor fund.
He also emphasized that Dr. Taufe’ulungaki had admitted “it is true there was some misused of the donor fund.”
He also claimed that some of the aid money was deposited into a personal bank account.
“It is true that some senior officials of the ministry at CDU deposited the aid money into a bank account. This is inconsistent with the government’s policy. The law forbids for any public funds to be deposited into a bank account by a Trust. This is not allowed.”
The Hon. Minister of Education denies the allegation.