Auditor General blasts cabinet for withholding decisions, warns of corruption

Tonga’s Auditor General, Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, has blasted the country’s cabinet for refusing to forward him copies of cabinet decisions.

He said a lack of transparency in the executive body’s decision making process would encourage corruption.

According to the Auditor General’s Report for 2012-2013, the government decided not to circulate any cabinet decisions to Dr Tu’i’onetoa.  

The government launched a prosecution against the Auditor General in 2012, accusing him of leaking information about the disappearance of millions of dollars of aid money donated by Australia and New Zealand to promote political reform in the kingdom.

According to the Report, the prosecution was later withdrawn.

Dr Tu’i’onetoa said he believed the information was actually leaked by a Cabinet minister.

Early this month Tonga’s Justice Minister, Clive Edwards, denied in Parliament during a heated debate on the Auditor’s Report that the government had stopped circulating cabinet decisions.

He said the law prohibited the Auditor General from giving his reports to ‘radio’ and ‘television'.

Duty

Dr Tu’i’onetoa said some Cabinet ministers’ interpretation of how the law defined his duties as the government’s chief financial officer was ‘outdated’ and ‘wrong.’

He said the law authorised him to give anybody his report if he thought it appropriate.

The Auditor General said he was legally allowed to release information depending on whether it was a matter of national security or whether it was in the public interest to make the information available.

“I did not know whether a cabinet decision was made in writing for the ban and which clause they based their decision on,” Dr Tu’i’onetoa said.

“I have written many times and asked for copies of cabinet decisions, but the Acting Secretary to cabinet has not responded.”

The Auditor General said he had also telephoned the Acting Secretary and explained that he wanted documents for auditing and been told he would receive a response in writing, but had never received a reply.

Dr Tu’i’onetoa said the decision to stop releasing documents to him may have been made  verbally.

“If there was no decision to stop cabinet decisions from being released, the Acting Secretary should be penalised,” the Auditor General said.

The decision had affected the ability of the Auditor General’s office to do its job properly for the past two years.

He said it was one of the cornerstones of his duty that he receive information that affected the way other government department and ministries’ decision making.   

Suspicion

Tonga’s Minister of Justice, Hon Clive Edwards attacked the Auditor General’s report, saying it had been brought to Parliament to stir up suspicion that fraud had been committed. He described it as ‘incomplete.’

Democratic Party leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva read out part of the Auditor’s Report in which the Auditor General said his prosecution had been part of the government’s attempts to gag him.

Pohiva told Government ministers in the House that he was sorry the report had brought them worries.    

Finance Minister Hon ‘Aisake Eke told the House he had no problem with the report

He told the House the Auditor General’s report had pending clauses, meaning they were recorded for further action to be taken,  like the issue of  multiple passports being issued to a Chinese millionaire.

The Finance Minister also mentioned the payment of US$25.50 million made in June 2012 to Princess Pilolevu and her Tongasat company. In the report the Auditor General questioned the payment, asking why was it made without processing a voucher as per government’s transaction policy.

Eke said he was shocked when he first saw the report. For the Treasury to make such a huge payment without using the proper process was a matter of a huge concern for him, given that he has been Secretary for Finance for many years before he become a Member of Parliament.

The Auditor General was not in Parliament to answer questions about the report,  but was represented by some of his senior officers. The Prime Minister told the House it would be wise for the Report to be returned and wait for the Auditor to be available for questioning.

The main points

  • Tonga’s Auditor General, Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, has blasted the country’s cabinet for refusing to forward him copies of cabinet decisions.
  • He said a lack of transparency in the executive body’s decision making process would encourage corruption.
  • Dr Tu’i’onetoa said some Cabinet ministers’ interpretation of how the law defined his duties as the government’s chief financial officer was ‘outdated’ and ‘wrong.’
  • Tonga’s Minister of Justice, Hon Clive Edwards attacked the Auditor General’s report, saying it had been brought to Parliament to stir up suspicion that fraud had been committed.

 

Ongoongo 'i he lea faka-Tonga / News in Tongan

Kuo fakaanga’i ‘e he ‘Atita Seniale ‘a Tonga, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa e fakafisi ‘ae kapineti ae fonua ke toe tuku ange kiate ia ha tatau ‘o e ngaahi tu’utu’uni kapineti

Na’a ne pehe ko hono fakapukupuku si’i ko ia ‘o e ngaue ‘o ‘ikai ha loko ‘ata ki tu’a a e founga fai tu’utu’uni te ne fakalotolahia ‘e ia ‘a hono ngaue hala’aki ‘o e mafai.

Fakatatau ki he Lipooti 2012 -2013 ‘a e ‘Atita Seniale, na’e tu’utu’uni ‘a e pule’anga ke ‘oua na’a toe kau ‘a Dr Tu’i’onetoa ‘i hono tufaki ki ai ‘a e ngaahi tu’utu’uni kapineti. Na’e faka’ilo foki ‘e he pule’anga ‘a Tu’i’onetoa ‘i he 2012, ‘o tukuaki’i ki he’ene mama ki tu’a ‘a e fakamatala kau ki he mole ‘a e pa’anga laui miliona ‘i he pa’anga tokoni ‘a Aositelelia mo Nu’u Sila ki hono tu’uaki ‘o e liliu fakatemokalati ‘i Tonga.

Fakatatau ki he lipooti na’e iku pe  ‘o toe kaniseli ‘a e faka’ilo ko ‘eni ka ne ‘osi fai ai ha fakamole lahi ‘a e pule’anga.

Ka na’e pehe ‘e Dr Tu’i’onetoa ko e fakamatala ko ia fekau’aki mo e paanga tokoni ‘a ‘Aositelelia mo Nu’u Sila  ‘i he’ene tui fakatatau ki ha fakamatala falala’anga ne ne ma’u ko e mama pe ia ‘e he taha ‘o e kau minisitaa. ‘I he konga ki mu’a ‘o e mahina ni na’e faka’ikai’i ai ‘i Fale Alea ‘e he Minisita Lao ‘a Tonga, ‘Onapolo Clive Edwards, lolotonga ha tipeiti fefeka he Lipooti ‘a e ‘Atita ‘o ne pehe na’e te’eki ha tu’utu’uni kapineti ia ke ta’ofi ‘a hono tufaki ‘o e ngaahi tu’utu’uni ‘a e kapineti. Na’a ne toe pehe ‘e ia ‘oku tapui ‘e he lao ‘a e ‘Atita Seniale kene  tuku ki tu’a ‘ene lipooti ki he ‘letioo’ mo e ‘televisone’.

Na’e pehe ‘e Tuionetoa ko e fa’ahinga faka’uhinga ‘a e ni’ihi ‘o e kau minisitaa ki he anga e tu’utu’uni ‘a e lao ki hono fatongia ko e ‘ofisa pule fakapa’anga ‘a e puleanga ‘oku ‘olokuonga pea ‘oku toe hala. Na’a ne pehe ‘oku fakangofua pe ia ‘e he lao ke ‘ave ‘ene lipooti kiha taha pe ‘o ka ‘oku ne pehee ‘oku taau. Na’e pehe ‘e he ‘atita seniale ‘oku ngofua ke ne tuku ki tu’a ‘ene lipooti ‘o ka ko ha me’a ki he malu fakafonua pe ‘oku mahu’inga ‘a e fakamatala ko ia ke ‘ilo ki ai ‘a e kakai.

Na’a ne pehe foki ‘oku ‘ikai ke ne ‘ilo pe ne fakahoko tohi  ‘a e tu’utu’uni ‘a e kapineti ke taofi hano toe tufa ange ‘a e ngaahi tu’utu’uni kapineti pea ko e kupu fe ia ‘o e lao na’e fai ai ‘enau tu’utu’uni ko ia.

Pehe ‘e he ‘atita seniale foki kuo ta tu’olahi ‘ene tohi ‘o kole e tatau ‘o e ngaahi tu’utu’uni kapineti ka kuo te’eki pe te ne ma’u ha tali mei he sekelitali le’ole’o ‘a e kapineti.

Na’e toe pehe ‘e he ‘atita seniale na’a ne ‘osi telefoni mo e sekelitali leole’o ‘o fakamatala ki ai ‘a ‘ene fiema’u e ngaahi fakamatala ke ‘atita’i pea na’a ne pehe ‘e faitohi mai pea talu ai ‘ikai ha tali mai ‘e taha. Na’e toe pehe ‘e Tu’i’onetoa ko e tu’utu’uni ke ‘oua e toe tufaki ange ngaahi tokiumeni ‘e lava ke pehe na’e tala ngutu pe. Naa ne toe pehe foki kapau na’e ‘ikai ha tu’utu’uni ke ta’ofi e tu’utu’uni kapineti mei hano ‘oange kiate ia pea ‘oku totonu ke tautea’i ‘a e sekelitali le’ole’o.

 ‘Oku hanga ‘e he ta’ofi ko ia ‘o uesia ‘a e faifatongia e ‘ofisi ‘o e ‘atita seniale mei hono fakahoko lelei hono fatongia ‘i he ta’u eni ‘e ua, ko e lau ia ‘a Tu’i’onetoa.  

Na’a ne pehe foki ko e taha ia e ngaahi makatuliki ‘o hono fatongia ke ne ma’u ‘a e ngaahi fakamatala ‘oku fakafalala ai e faifatongia fakahoko tu’utu’uni  ‘a e ‘u tipaatimeni  mo e minisiteli ‘a e pule’anga.

Hu’uhu’u:

Na’e ohofi e Clive Edwards e lipooti ‘a e ‘Atita Seniale ‘o pehe ko e  ‘ai ‘ke ‘omai pē ‘ū me’a fakakonga ke mahamahalo ‘a e kakai ‘oku ‘i ai ha me’a ‘oku hala.

Na’e lau atu foki ‘e he taki ia ‘o e Paati Temokalati, ‘Akilisi Pohiva ‘a e konga ‘i he lipooti ‘a e ‘atita na’e pehe ai ko hono faka’ilo o e ‘atita ko e konga ia e feinga a e pule’anga ke tapuni ‘a hono ngutu ‘oua na’a toe lea ki ha me’a.

Na’e manganga e kau minisita ‘a e pule’anga ‘i Fale Alea i hono fakahu mai ‘a e lipooti ka ne na’ina’i  ‘a Akilisi ke ‘oua te nau hoha’a pea ‘oku ne kole fakamolemole ka kuo uesia kinautolu e he lipooti.

“Sea ko ‘eku poiní ko u kole fakamolemole atu Hou’eiki kapau ‘oku hanga ‘e he fakamatala ko eni ‘o uesia hotau ‘atamai.  Fakatau’atāina’iange mu’a kitautolu kā tau sio ‘o ‘ilo ‘a e me’a totonu ko ē mo e hala ke tau ‘alu ai, ‘oua ‘e ilifia, ‘oua ‘e ilifia ki ai,” ko e fakamalanga ia ‘a Pohiva.

Na’e pehe foki ‘e he Minisita Paanga ia ‘Onapolo ‘Aisake Eke ki he Fale ‘oku ‘ikai ha’ane palopalema ‘ana ia mo e lipooti. Na’a ne pehe ki he Fale ‘oku ‘I ai ‘a e u me’a ia i he lipooti oku tu’u ke toki faka’osi pea ‘oku lekooti pe ia ai ke toki fai ki ai ha ngaue o hange ko e ngaahi paasipooti ne foaki ki he milionea Siaina.

Na’e toe ‘ai hake foki ‘e Eke ‘a hono totongi ko ia ‘o e pa’anga ‘Amelika ‘e 25.50 miliona kia Pilinisesi Pilolevu mo ‘ene kautaha Tongasat ‘i he mahina Sune 2012. Fakatatau ki he Lipooti na’e fehu’ia ‘e he ‘atita seniale ‘a e totongi ko ‘eni pea ne ‘eke koe ha na’e ‘ikai ke ‘ai ai hano vausia o hange ko e founga ki hono fakahoko ‘o ha totongi pehee i Fale Pa’anga.

Na’e pehe ‘e Eke na’e ‘osi mo’oni ‘ene tumu ‘i he’ene ‘uluaki sio ‘i he lipooti. Na’a ne pehe ko e fu’u mea’lahi fau ia ke hoko ‘i Fale Pa’anga ‘o ka fai ha fu’u totongi lahi pehe ta’e fou ‘i he founga totonu ‘o hange ko ia ne ne maheni ai ‘i he’ene hoko ko e Sekelitali ia ‘a e Fale Pa’anga i he ta’u lahi pea ne toki hoko ko e fakafofonga Fale Alea.

Na’e’ikai ke i he Fale Alea a e ‘atita seniale ke tali fehu’i ‘i he taimi ne ‘ohake ai ‘ene lipooti ka na’e fakafofonga’i pe ia ‘e he ni’ihi ‘ene kau ‘ofisa ma’olunga. Na’e pehe ai ‘e he palemia ki he Fale ‘oku fakapotopoto ange ke fakafoki pe ‘a e Lipooti ke toki faingamalie ‘a e ‘Atita pea fakahu ange kae lava ke ne tali ha ngaahi fehu’i ‘e fai.

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