Taxpayers have duties (“fatongia”) to pay for the king, Prime Minister, nobles and government officials’ medical expenses, a government spokesperson said.
The money for these payments had been allocated in the government’s annual budget, he said.
“It is the responsibility of the taxpayers and the country to look after their leaders” he said.
The spokesperson was responding after debates on social media erupted recently, with critics asking who was paying for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva’s medical expenses in New Zealand.
Some questioned whether it was time for Hon Pōhiva, 78, to resign because of his health conditions. However, supporters of the Prime Minister said it was normal for those at his age to receive such routine medical checkups.
King and Lord Fusitu’a treatment
The king was admitted to hospital while he was in New Zealand last month.
It is understood he had surgery on his knee.
Late last year Lord Fusitu’a was sent from Tonga to a New Zealand hospital after he reportedly fell over and broke his leg.
Some of these medical treatments may have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of Pa’anga.
PM receives second stage treatment
Hon Pōhiva will receive the second stage of medical treatment for a liver complication at an Auckland hospital this week.
He has been undergoing treatment at Mercy Hospital since May 8.
The Prime Minister’s Office said his next procedure was scheduled for Thursday.
While in New Zealand a meeting was held between New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Hon. Pohiva.
Peters offered Hon. Pōhiva his moral support and wished him all the best for his recovery.
It is understood the two also discussed co-operation between the two countries to address the illegal drugs issue and talked about Tonga’s new Parliamentary building which the New Zealand and Australian governments have promised to build.
Former PMs medical expenses
The spokesperson said Prime Minister Pōhiva always preferred being treated at Vaiola hospital when he was sick.
He was only sent to New Zealand when the treatments were not available in Tonga, the spokesperson said.
As Kaniva news reported last year, another government spokesperson said the Prime Minister’s decision to be treated in Tonga rather than New Zealand saved thousands pa’anga of taxpayers’ money.
He said the government would have spent more than TP$100,000 if it had hired a medical aircraft to fly the Prime Minister to New Zealand.
However, Hon Pōhiva, who had felt ill for some time, was later sent to a hospital in Auckland.
Former Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakanō was regularly sent to New Zealand for checkups after he suffered a minor stroke while in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.
His medical expenses and flights were paid from taxpayers money.
Kaniva News understands a former Prime Minister who was wheelchair-bound died after spending months in an Auckland hospital. While he was in New Zealand all his expenses, including the staff looking after him, were paid from taxpayers’ money.
A former Minister of Police was flown to New Zealand on a medical flight while he was seriously ill, but died during the fligjht. All expenses were paid from the taxpayers’ coffers.
The main points
- Taxpayers have duties (“fatongia”) to pay for the king, Prime Minister, nobles and government officials’ medical expenses, a government spokesperson said.
- The money for these payments had been allocated in the government’s annual budget, he said.
- The spokesperson was responding after debates on social media erupted recently, with critics asking who was paying for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s medical expenses in New Zealand.