Accountability is key to realising human rights, says NGO Coalition on Human Rights
The Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights is concerned that the opposition member Chair of the Public Accounts Committee has been replaced by a government representative. The Coalition had raised concerns in February this year when amendments were being made to the Standing Orders that removed the requirement that the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee must be from the opposition. That amendment to Standing Order 117 removed an important check and balance for our national financial governance.
“It's disappointing to see the experienced Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dr. Biman Chand Prasad, replaced almost immediately by a government representative, at the first opportunity,” says NGO Coalition for Human Rights (NGOCHR) Chair, Tara Chetty.
"This is not about whether or not the new Chair will do a good job, the concern is that our perception of the independence and credibility of this very important committee has been gravely undermined."
The Public Accounts Committee Chair is a difficult role, responsible for carefully scrutinizing public revenue and expenses. Fiji had initially adopted good governance best practice by ensuring that the position be held by a member of the Opposition in Parliament.
This strengthened accountability has an important link to human rights, particularly towards the realisation of socio-economic rights for all Fijians.
The Coalition calls on the Government to reconsider its position and reverse the regressive change made to Standing Order 117. Balance, transparency and accountability are fundamental to democracy.