Fiji’s Opposition Leader writes to President about COC

Opposition Leader Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FILE

Fiji’s Opposition Leader Voreqe Bainimarama has refused an offer of housing extended by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Yet, a little more than a month after the 2022 General Election, there is no confirmation from Government that he has vacated the home he occupied as PM.

In a letter to Speaker Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Mr Bainimarama said all benefits and remuneration of the President, the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, ministers and assistant ministers and members of Parliament were stipulated in Schedules A and B of the Parliamentary Remunerations Act.

He said the Act itself, and the remunerations and benefits provided under it, could not be amended without parliamentary approval.

“Section 80 of the Constitution states ‘the remuneration, including salaries and allowances and benefits, payable to the President, the Prime Minister, other Ministers, the Leader of Opposition, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and a member of Parliament shall be prescribed by a written law,” he wrote.

“Therefore, your assertion that the Honourable Prime Minister has approved and instructed that government quarters will be provided for the Leader of the Opposition which will be rent free with immediate effect is in fact unconstitutional and wrong in law.

“The honourable Prime Minister has no legal authority to give any such approval or instruction.”

Mr Bainimarama also advised that he did not intend to receive any benefit as Leader of Opposition unless that benefit had a “legal basis” to it.

“I find it rather curious that the honourable Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, and your good self, are facilitating a benefit that is illegal.”

Questions sent to the PM’s Office on the statement made by Mr Bainimarama remain unanswered.

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