Petition: Auditor’s report shows no breach of constitution or misappropriation of public funds

'Oku 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

UPDATED: Auditor General Sefita Tangi has found most of the allegations raised by PSA Head Mele ‘Amanaki’s petition against seven Ministers, including the Prime Minister, to be untrue.

The Auditor General did not report breach of the law, constitution or any misappropriation of public funds as alleged in ‘Amanaki’s petition.

However, Tangi said some employment contracts raised in the petition “did not comply” with the Public Service Act 2002.

Tangi recommended that the government should refer some of the complaints, including appointments of some government staff and workers raised in the petition, to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

He said some of the allegation fell outside his remit. He said he was unable to express his opinions on the government’s financial statements as the matters needed expert legal advice.

The Auditor General said the audit was hindered in some cases because some records were unavailable or were not provided.

This occurred when the auditors were trying to assess the outcomes of some of the government projects and the performances of some employees hired by the government.

The Auditor General’s report is available only in Tongan and he often uses the Tongan phrase ‘makatu’unga ‘i he ngaahi tu’unga fakalao,’ which means ‘these are based on legal matters’ when drawing conclusions.

Former Auditor General Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa said this meant, the Auditor General believed the allegations were based on legal matters and so should not comment because he was not a legal expert.

The 12-page special report seen by Kaniva News was submitted to the House after the Speaker ordered the Auditor General to conduct an audit in response to ‘Amanaki’s petition.

The petition was submitted to the House by MP Tēvita Lavemaau and was strongly backed by former Deputy Prime Minister MP Siaosi Sovaleni and others.

Employment allegations

‘Amanaki’s petition alleged that International Computer consultant Piveni Piukala’s contract, which was issued by the government in 2015, was illegal. However, the Auditor General said he was satisfied that the contract was legal.

A second contract for Piukala was processed which the petition alleged was also illegal, but the Auditor General said the process had not been completed.

The petition alleged that cabinet decisions to recruit some senior staff and daily workers were not made according to the law.

This included the employment of the Prime Minister’s media advisor, Lōpeti Senituli, nine daily workers at the Popua Park and Golf course building project – including the Prime Minister’s son-in-law  Tevita Musika Koli – and the employment of ‘Ikani Taliai as Director of the National Sports Institute.

The Auditor General said the employment process for Senituli was still being processed and that the government should make sure it followed the Public Service Act 2002 and referred the process to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Tangi said the employment of the workers at the Popua Park and Golf course  should be completed by referring it to the PSC. He said PSC had no record of these workers.

He said three of these workers including former MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu, ‘Automalo Tupou and Sione Kava were not paid for the works they did for various reasons.

The petition accused the Prime Minister over the employment of Koli as Park Works Superviser/Designer and heavy machinery operator.

The Auditor General said the employment of Koli along with the rest of the workers at the Popua Park and Golf course was made under the Public Service Act 2002 after it was approved by Cabinet on August 30, 2017. He said it should have been referred to PSC to complete the employment process.

The employment of Taliai as Director of the National Sports Institute did not exactly follow (“na’e ‘ikai faipau”) the Public Service Act 2002, Tangi said. He said this was the fault of the executives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs who processed the contract at the time.

He said the executives at the Ministry signed the contract with Taliai without referring it to the PSC.

Tourism allegation

The petition claimed that the public funds at the Tonga Tourism Authority had been abused, but the Auditor General said the Authority had the power to choose its own independent auditor.

He said the Minister of Tourism was free to ask for the Auditor General to audit the Tourism Authority.

Tribunal cases

The petitioners alleged the Prime Minister had attempted to block the process for the appointment of  the  Ministry of Education CEO Claude Tupou. They also raised in the petition a case in which the Prime Minister allegedly ordered the relocation of two staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a former staff Hon. Fanetupou Vava’u Kaho and Lady Marcella Kalaniuvalu Fotofili to another Ministry. The petitioners also alleged that the dismissal of former Tourism Authority chairman Tomifā Paea was illegal.

In his response, Tangi said these cases were based on legal matters and had been dealt with by the Public Service Tribunal.

Constitution allegations 

The petition alleged that some of the Ministers had breached the constitution after they did not submit their annual ministerial reports to the House.

However, the Auditor General said Parliament’s registry had records of these ministerial reports and there was no need for him to investigate it.

The Auditor General said the rest of the complaints raised in the petition were based on legal matters (“makatu’unga ‘i he ngaahi tu’unga fakalao.”)

The main points

  • Auditor General Sefita Tangi has found most of the allegations raised by unsuccessful candidate Mele ‘Amanaki’s petition against seven Ministers, including the Prime Minister, to be untrue.
  • He said the issues raised were caused by procedural shortfalls.
  • The Auditor did not report any breach of the constitution or any misappropriation of public funds as alleged in ‘Amanaki’s the petition.

For more information

Finance, Education Ministers deny PSA head’s accusation against them, saying it was evil-minded

PM slams Privilege Committee  for  blocking cabinet responses to ‘Amanaki petition 

1 COMMENT

  1. Na’e ‘ikai lipooti ‘e he ‘Atita Seniale ‘a Tonga naeikai hano maumau’i konisitutone’ pe ngaue hala’aki ‘o ha pa’anga ‘e he kau minisitā ‘e toko fitu kau ai ‘a e ‘Eiki Palemia ‘o hange ko ia ne tukuaki’i ‘i he tohi tangi ‘a Mele ‘Amanaki.

    Mei lahi e tukuaki’i ‘a e tohi tangi na’e ‘ikai mo’oni ia fakatatau ki ha tatau ‘o e lipooti peesi 12 ‘a e ‘atita ne sio ai ‘a e Kaniva’ pea ne pehe ‘e he ‘Atita Seniale ne lahi e ‘u me’a he tohi tangi ne makatu’unga ia
    i he ngaahi me’a fakalao pea ‘ikai ha’ane fu’u kaunga tonu ki he pa’anga ‘a e fonua.

    Kaekehe ne ‘i ai ha ngaahi fokotu’u lakanga ‘a e pule’anga ne ‘ikai faipau ki he lao pea ‘i he vakai ‘a e ‘Atita na’a ne pehe ke fakafoki ‘eni ki he komisoni PSC ‘a e kau ngaue fakapule’anga.

    Na’e tukuaki’i ‘e he tangi na’e ta’efakalao hono fakangaue’i ‘o Piveni Piukala he 2015 ka ne pehe ‘e he ‘atita na’e fakalao pe ia. Na’e toe tukuaki’i ‘e ‘Amanaki mo ‘ene kau tangi’ na’e toe ‘i ai ‘a e konituleki hono ua ‘a Piukala ke fokotu’u pea ne fou he founga ta’efakalao ka ne pehe ‘e he ‘Atita kuo te’eki kakato ‘a e ngaue ia ki he fokotu’u lakanga ko ia’.

    Hange ko e ngaahi tu’utu’uni ‘a e kapineti ki he lakanga ‘o e tangata fale’i fakamitia ‘a e Palemia mo ha toko hiva ne fakangaue ko e kau ngaue lau ‘aho hono langa ‘o e paaka ‘i Popua pehe kia ‘Ikani Taliai ko e Talekita ‘o e Ako’anga Sipoti ‘a Tonga.

    Na’e ‘ikai faipau ‘eni ki he lao ka ne fale’i ‘e he ‘Atita ke fakafoki pe ia ki he Komisoni ‘a e Kau Ngaue Fakapule’anga ke fakakakato ‘a e ngaue ki ai.

    Na’e pehe ‘e he ‘Atita na’e ‘ikai faipau ki he lao ‘a e fakanofo lakanga ‘o ‘Ikani pea ko e to nounou ia ‘a e kau taki he Potungaue ki he Ngaahi Me’a Fakalotofonua ko e ‘ikai ke nau ‘ave ki he PSC.

    Ko e toenga ‘a e ngaahi tukuaki’i mei he tohi tangi ‘a ‘Amanaki na’e pehē leva ‘e he ‘Atita ne tu’unga kotoa ia ‘i he ngaahi makatu’unga fakalao.

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