NFP Leader Biman Prasad says he is not surprised that the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has removed him from the Public Accounts Committee.
Prasad says he was removed because he was asking the hard questions.
"My removal was expected because the Attorney General accused me of politicizing the Committee.
"If thoroughly scrutinizing Auditor General’s Reports and seeking information about controversial expenditure like payment of consultancy to an Accounting firm for a study into the operations of Rewa Dairy leading to its sale, miscellaneous expenditure of Head 50 and payment of salaries of Cabinet Ministers through an Accounting Firm is politicizing the work of the Committee, then taxpayers of Fiji can no longer expect any discrepancy highlighted by the Auditor General to be scrutinized and highlighted.
"If a Government policy leads to abuse and wastage of funds, the Committee should have every right to highlight it and raise it in Parliament. With the change in the Standing Orders restricting the role of the Committee to basically only browse through reports, this scrutiny will not happen. This is ridiculous and a grave injustice to the taxpayers of Fiji."
Prasad's removal now means that Government can elect its own Chairman because it has majority members on the Public Accounts Committee – just like other Committees.
"One has to ask the Government why the change? Why is the Government frightened that an Opposition Chair is leading the scrutiny of Auditor-General’s Reports?"
The AG is on record of having lamented about the work of the Committee in July last year, two months after Prasad tabled a Consolidated report of PAC on the Auditor-General’s report from 2007 to 2009.
That report has not been debated one year after it was tabled. The Fiji Sun of 22nd July 2015 reported the AG as saying “it was premature to have a standing committee in Fiji on corruption because political maturity was lacking”.
He said there has been a culture in Fiji of standing committees being used for political point scoring.
Khaiyum had said this would not work for a standing committee on corruption, because “enquiries of corruption need to be dealt with apolitically and, with confidentiality."