Posted: 23-Nov-2020 01:40 PM
Does creating an image of a government to look good can eventually make a good government? The dexterity of the current government in developing unimaginable public projects can fool people into thinking that there is any growing interest in people’s needs and priorities. It looks good from the offset, but when it is unravelled it seems mysterious to understand the basis of such a huge initiative and how can it be financed by the government.
While some people are rushing in to take advantage of these programs others are being more cautious. The questions that has surfaced amongst Tongans in country and abroad is whether this is a real national priority or not, is it a political campaign for re-election in 2021, or is it for personal gains?
On the one hand is the government’s housing project with a targeted 20,000 homes to be built for poor people. The proposed standard housing costs around $70,000 to $75,000 pa’anga so its total estimated cost would be around $1.5 billion pa’anga. Is this real at all?
Tonga’s national census in 2016 identified a total of 18,500 private households in the country. So the government’s plan to build 20,000 homes would literally mean that all homes in Tonga will be built or rebuilt and that all homes in Tonga are poor. Tonga does not have 20,000 poor homes that needs to be built and building 20,000 homes is not a real national priority. Or it could have been that the basis for formulating this housing project was created out of thin air.
Moreover, since this government took office they have set their minds on road construction projects with an estimated total cost of $300 million pa’anga. In the current financial year a budget allocation of $15 million was set for the road construction project. It was also indicated back in May 2020 that three quarry companies have been earmarked by government to take on this project. One belonging to the son of the Minister of Police, the other belonged to Etuate Lavulavu (Husband of the Minister for Infrastructure) whom later transferred directorship of his company to ‘Inoke Finau Vala, and the last belonging to Saia Moehau.
During the debates on the road construction project in parliament the three companies were labelled secretive and the government did not wish to announce them. The public raised many concerns as to why the government were not willing to identify the companies including an allocated $27 million of public funds to Tonga Development Bank loanable for these companies. Now five months later the government has announced contract awards to these exact companies. What is puzzling is a case regarding conflict of interest and it is something that requires serious attention. In its entirety conflict of interest is a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity. Yet, the government continues to downplay these concerns claiming that conflict of interest is unimportant, but it’s not! The $15 million pa’anga budget allocation of tax payer’s money is going to companies with close link to the government ministers is not unimportant it is serious.
Perhaps, the government’s wish list is a bit unrealistic and the country cannot afford it. The only way to make these things happen is by putting more money into the government. In the meantime, we must first find the revenue we need to cover the budget deficit of $60 million. In addition to that we must find $300 million to complete the road construction project. Finally, we will need $1.5 billion to build all the homes in Tonga. Therefore, the current calculation should bring us close to $1.86 billion in total cost for the government’s wish list and it will be coming out of our own pockets.
We should all take a step back and re-evaluate the government’s agenda, whether all this is real or is the government trying to look good regardless of the cost our country will have to bare in years to come.
So,what if the government is a damaged kidney? It cannot be made to look good; it must only be replaced.
‘E LAVA KE TAU FUA E NGAAHI LOI ‘A E PULE’ANGA?
Kapau te tau fa’u ha ‘imisi ‘o ha Pule’anga ‘oku ha lelei. ‘E lava nai ke hoko ia ko ha Pule’anga lelei?
Kuo mohu faiva foki ‘a e pule’anga hono fatu ha ngaahi poloseki lalahi fakafonua ke taku tokua ‘oku nau mahu’inga’ia ‘i he ngaahi fiema’u ‘a e kakai. ‘Oku ha matamata lelei mai ‘ene ‘asi, ka ko e taimi ‘oku tau vakai fakalelei ai ki ai ‘oku hange tofu pe ia ha misiteli ke tau ‘iloa ‘a e ‘uhinga hono fatu ‘a e ngaahi poloseki ko ‘eni pea ‘e founga fefe hono fakapa’anga ‘e he Pule’anga.
Neongo kuo nga’unu atu ‘a e kakai ia ‘e ni’ihi ke nau kumi faingamalie mei he ngaahi polokalama ko ‘eni, ka ‘oku ‘i ai pe mo e kakai ‘e ni’ihi ‘oku to e ki’i tatali ‘o fakakaukau fakalelei. Ka ko e ngaahi fehu’i ‘oku e’a hake pe ko ‘etau taumu’a fakafonua nai ‘eni, pe ko ha kemipeini pe ia ‘a e Pule’anga ki he fili ka hoko, pe koe ‘ai pe ia ke nau ma’u faingamalie fakafo’ituitui mei ai ‘a e kau taki mo honau famili mo e maheni.
‘I he tafa’aki ‘e taha ko e fekau’aki ko ia pea mo e poloseki langa fale ‘a e pule’anga ki he masiva ‘o fe’unga mo e fale ‘e 20,000 ‘oku taumu’a ke langa. Ko e esitimeti ‘o e fo’i langa fale ‘e taha ‘oku fe’unga ia mo e pa’anga ‘e $70,000 ki he $75,000. ‘A ia ‘e ofi ‘a e fakamole fakalukufua ki he langa ‘o e fale ‘e 20,000 ki he pa’anga ‘e $1.5 piliona. ‘E malava nai ‘eni pe ‘ikai?
‘Oku fakaha ‘e he tohi kakai fakafonua fakamuimui taha ‘a Tonga ‘i he 2016 ‘oku fe’unga pea mo e fale nofo’anga fakakatoa ‘e 18,500 ‘i Tonga ni. ‘A ia ko e palani ko ia ‘a e pule’anga ke langa e fale ‘e 20,000 ma‘ae masiva ko e kotoa ia ‘o e ngaahi fale nofo’anga ‘i he fonua ‘e langa ko ia, pea toe tanaki ki ai ko e fale ‘e 20,000 ‘i Tonga ni ‘oku masiva ‘a ia ko e fale nofo’anga kotoa ia ‘i Tonga ni ‘oku masiva. ‘Oku ‘ikai ke ‘i ai ha fale nofo’anga ‘e 20,000 ‘i Tonga ni ‘oku masiva pea ‘oku ‘ikai ke fiema’u ia ‘e he fonua ke langa ha fale ‘e 20,000. Mahalo nai ne fa’u pe polokalama langa fale ia ‘a e pule’anga mei he ‘ata’ataa loa.
Ko e poloseki tanu hala, ne talu e hu ‘ae pule’anga ko ‘eni na’a nau ‘osi fokotu’u mahino ko ‘enau taumu’a ko e poloseki tanu hala mo hono fakamole ‘e ofi ‘i he pa’anga ‘e $300 miliona. ‘I he ta’u fakapa’anga lolotonga ne vahea ai ‘a e $15 miliona mei he patiseti ke kamata ‘aki hono fakapa’anga ‘a e polokalama tanu hala. Ne ‘osi e’a pe ‘i he Fale Alea ‘i Me 2020 kuo fili ‘e he pule’anga ha kautaha maka ‘e tolu ke fakatau mei ai ‘a e maka ki he tanu hala. Ko e kautaha ‘e taha ‘oku talekita ia ‘a e foha ‘o e Minisita Polisi Lord Nuku, pea ko e taha ko e kautaha ‘a ‘Etuate Lavulavu (Ko hono hoa ‘oku Minisita he Ngaahi Ngaue Lalahi) pea ne liliu ‘a e talekita ‘o e kautaha kia ‘Inoke Finau Vala, pea ko e kautaha hono tolu leva ko e kautaha ia ‘a Saia Moehau.
Ko e lolotonga ‘o e ngaahi tipeiti ‘i he Fale Alea he talanga’i ‘oe patiseti tanu hala ne ‘ikai loto ‘a e pule’anga ke ne fakaha ‘a e hingoa ‘o e ngaahi kautaha maka. Ne ‘i ai ‘a e hoha’a e kakai ki he ‘uhinga kuo fakapulipuli ai ‘e he pule’anga ‘a e ngaahi kautaha maka, pea tanaki ki ai mo e to e faka’ataa ‘e he pule’anga ha $27 miliona ki he Pangike Fakalakalaka ke no mei ai ‘a e ngaahi kautaha ko ‘eni. Ko e ‘aho ni kuo fakaha ‘e he pule’anga kuo ne foaki ‘a e ngaahi konituleki ngaue ma’ae fo’i kautaha pe ‘e tolu ko ‘eni ne fai ki ai ‘a e laaulea.
Ko e me’a ia ‘oku fai ki ai e hoha’a ko e fepakipaki ko ia ‘o e ngaahi fiema’u pea ko e taha ia ha me’a mahu’inga ke fai e tokanga ki ai. Ko e fepakipaki ‘o e ngaahi fiema’u ‘oku ‘uhinga tefito ia ki ha taha ‘oku ne to e ma’u monu’ia fakafo’ituitui pe ia mei he ngaahi tu’utu’uni mo e ngaue ‘oku ne fakahoko ‘i hono lakanga mo e mafai.
Ko ia kuo feinga ‘a e pule’anga ia ke ne tukuhifo ‘a e ngaahi me’a ko ‘eni ‘oku hoha’a ki ai ‘a e kakai ‘o tala ‘oku ‘ikai ke fu’u mahu’inga ia. Ko e me’a mahu’inga ko e totongi ma’ama’a ‘enau uta maka. Ka ‘oku totonu ke mahino kihe pule’anga koe to’o atu ‘ae pa’anga ‘e $15 miliona mei he tukuhau ‘a e kakai ki he tanuhala mo e ngaahi kautaha ‘oku to e fekau’aki vaofi pe ia mo e kau memipa he pule’anga ko e fu’u me’a lahi ia pea ‘oku mahu’inga ke ‘i ai ha lau ki ai ‘a e kakai.
Kae mahalo nai na’a ko e ngaahi faka’amu ‘i he kato faka’amu ‘a e pule’anga ‘oku ngali taukakapa pea ‘e faingata’a ki he fonua ke ne fua. He ko e founga pe ia ke lava ai ke fakahoko ‘a e ngaahi faka’amu ko ’eni ko e to e fa’o atu pe pa’anga e kakai ki he pule’anga. Koi a ai ‘oku anga pehe ni leva ia: te tau feinga ke fakapa’anga ‘a e lele mole ‘a e pule’anga ‘aki ‘a e pa’anga ‘e $60 miliona. Te tau to e fakakaukaua ‘eni pe ‘e ma’u mei fe ‘a e pa’anga ‘e $300 miliona ke fai ‘aki ‘a e tanuhala. ‘Oku pehe foki mo e vakai pe te tau ma’u mei fe ha pa’anga ‘e $1.5 piliona ke langa ha fale ‘e 20,000 ‘i Tonga ni. Kapau ko e tu’unga lolotonga ‘eni ‘o e ngaahi fakamole ‘e ofi ia kihe pa’anga ‘e $1.86 piliona fakakatoa ke feau ‘a e ngaahi faka’amu ‘a e pule’anga pea ko e toe ‘a’au atu pe mo ia mei he kato ‘a e kakai totongi tukuhau.
‘Oku taau ke tau to e ki’i taimi ange ‘o to e vakai’i fakalelei ‘a e ‘asenita totonu ‘a e pule’anga pe ‘oku mo’oni nai ‘e malava pe ‘ikai pe ko ha‘anau feinga pe ke ha lelei kae ‘ikai te nau tokanga ki he mafasia ‘e feia ‘e he fonua ni he ngaahi ta’u ka hoko mai.
‘E fefe leva kapau ko e pule’anga ia ‘oku hange ha kofu ua kuo uesia? ‘E ‘ikai to e lava ia ‘o ‘ai ke matamata lelei, kuo pau pe ke fetongi ia.
On February 13, 2021, an international webinar on “Voice of Peace:…
RNZ- FIJI Kuo kamata ‘a e fakamaau mo e fakalelei ‘a e kāinga ko…