PM plans to save TP$2m on games preparation as Lord Sevele blasts building delays

    Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva says the government will save TP$2 million by building a new golf course at Popua instead of expanding the ‘Atele golf course for the 2019 Pacific Games.

    During a heated debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Hon. Pohiva said he was confident the games facilities would be ready by 2019.

    He was responding to a letter from the President of the Tonga Amateur Sports Association, Lord Tupou and Chair of Organising Committee, Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi.

    They said they feared Tonga would be stripped of its rights to host the Games if the facilities were not ready.

    The Prime Minister said he was confident the sports facilities would be ready by 2019.

    Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele said expanding the ‘Atele golf course was the most reasonable option.

    In rebuttal, Hon. Pohiva said work on the ‘Atele would cost more than a new facility at Popua.

    He said expanding the ‘Atele course would cost TP$14 million.

    If the government spent TP$14 million at ‘Atele, ownership would go to Sione Wight and the noble estate holder after the Games. However, the Popua site would remain the government’s property.

    He said the government had similar plans in the 1990s.

    Pohiva said Government technical experts would work on the project with the aid of an American designer.

    The technical team presented their proposal for the Popua project to Cabinet.

    Hon. Pohiva said a new course at Popua would boost tourism in the future.

    Sports stadium

    Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele said they were concerned about the renovation of Teufaiva Sports Stadium and the field. They said nothing had been done in the past two years and only three years were left until the Games.

    They said the Prime Minister had disregarded the committee’s plans to upgrade the Teufaiva Stadium facility, which was meant to start in December 2015 and be completed by March 31 this year.

    A company from New Zealand called Creative Spaces Ltd was given the green light to manage the project at a cost of TP$24 million. The decision was approved by both the Audit and Governance Authority (AGA) and Government Facilities Committee.

    Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele said that in December 2015 the Prime Minister rejected the proposal, which prevented the Creative Space Ltd from implementing the project.

    “The Prime Minister continually interferes and intervenes with the Organising Committee and Government Facilities Committees’ plan of actions,” they said.

    They claimed the initial cost of upgrading the Teufaiva facility was TP$24 million. However, the cost had risen by TP$3 million due to the fluctuation of the currency exchange rate.

    However, the Prime Minister said that despite the delay in rebuilding of Teufaiva, the sports stadium would be upgraded to international standard in time for the Games.

    Rugby

    Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele claimed inaction over sporting opportunities meant Tonga had lost its chance to host a rugby match against Wales in June at Teufaiva.

    The Prime Minister denied this and said Tonga would host the rugby match with Wales in June.

    He said Cabinet had told the Welsh Teufaiva would be ready for the upcoming game.

    He said it was up to Wales to decide whether to come to Tonga or New Zealand as originally scheduled.

    The main points

    • Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva says the government will save TP$2 million by building a new golf course at Popua instead of expanding the ‘Atele golf course for the 2019 Pacififc Games.
    • During a heated debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Hon. Pohiva said he was confident the games facilities would be ready by 2019.
    • He was responding to a letter from the President of the Tonga Amateur Sports Association, Lord Tupou and Chair of Organising Committee, Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi.
    • They said they feared Tonga would be stripped of its rights to host the Games if the facilities were not ready

    For more information

    Government considers not giving fund to TASANOC after Sevele was re-elected

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