A petition tabled in Parliament yesterday was read despite calls not to becasuse it is not related to the Budget Estimates 2018/2019.
However the Speaker Lord Fakafanua ruled the first prayer in the Petition which asks for the debates in the budget be delayed is directly related to the budget. The petition signed by over 3000 petitioners is calling for three things.
The first and second prayers, is to defer the discussion on the Budget Estimates so an audit could be carried out on some government department’s budget from 2015/2016, 2016/2017 & 2017/2018 Budget. The last is their intention of impeachment proposition of seven Cabinet Ministers.
It includes the former Minister of Education & Training and former Minister responsible for Internal Affairs Hon. 'Akilisi Pohiva, his deputy Hon. Semisi Sika - MOI Minister, Finance and National Planning Minister Hon. Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, current Minister of Education Hon. Penisimani Fifita, Mateni Tapueluelu who holds the Minister of Police portfolio, Justice Minister Vuna Fa'otusia and the Minister of Labour, Commerce and Industries Dr. Tu'i Uata.
The petitioners also pleaded with the Noble and People Representatives they have lost their confidence in the accused.
They claim they trusted them to administer the affairs of the country as it may deem fit through the guiding principles of good governance and justice. Yet they act otherwise for their own advantage, their family and friends.
The Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva urged Parliament to defer reading it and debate on the Budget Estimates should be a top priority.
Pohiva urged MPs to use their conscience and common sense since only six working days are left to debate on the proposed budget.
He said if it’s read in Parliament it would take a full day deliberation today and tomorrow. Thus left insufficient time for discussion on the budget estimates.
The PM asked Parliament to set aside the law so they start deliberating on the budget.
The Hon. Minister for Labour, Commerce and Industries Dr. Tu’i Uata also insisted the petition is not related to the budget. Therefore the priority should be focused on the Budget Estimates 2018/2019.
‘Eua Noble Representative Lord Nuku thought otherwise. He asked the Speaker to make his decision on the issue. He also maintained it’s not Parliament’s responsibility to put aside the law but to act upon it.
He also voiced since Parliament is awaiting correction to the Budget Estimates, Parliament should discuss the controversial petition.
Vava’u 15 MP, Samiu Vaipulu also shared the same sentiment. He asked for the petition to be read out, refer it to the Audit Office while discussion on the budget gets underway.
Two recommendations put forward by the Privilege Committee for the petition to be read out and debated together with the budget estimates.
The Chairman of the Privilege Committee Lord Tu’iha’angana said their report was tabled today but it’s totally up to Parliament to conclude on the matter.
The Speaker then ruled out for Parliament to continue with its agenda. He said according to Clause 19(1) (a) after a reply has been delivered to his Majesty, the Legislative Assembly should proceed to any legislation concerning revenue, estimates of expenditures and all related petitions.
For this reason, he directed the petition to be read as it relates to the Budget Estimates 2018/2019.