PM releases details of controversial TP$22,000 spent on opening ceremony

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Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva releases details of the controversial TP$22,000

The opening of new St George Palace early this month cost Tongan taxpayers money which included TP$10,000 donated as gift for his Majesty King Tupou VI.

The money was part of a controversial TP$22,000 paʻanga which treasury had released after the Prime Minister and his cabinet signed a letter rejecting a request by sacked Finance Minister Tēvita Lavemaau for its release.

Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva said TP$3000 was taken from the money to buy a fala uongokumi (decorative mat) and TP$1,000 pa’anga was spent as a gift for a tauʻolunga (solo dance) which was performed by Mikaela Tuʻivakanō during the ceremony.

He said TP$8000 from the money was also used but he did not say how that money was spent.

The Prime Minister made the revelation during a press conference last week in Nuku’alofa.

Read more: Inquiries after sacked Finance Minister disobeyed cabinet decision on TP$80,000 spending

As Kaniva News reported, Lavemaau disobeyed the cabinet decision rejecting his proposal to release the money and he paid it to the organising committee, which was chaired by the sacked deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni.

Lavemaau said the release of the money was legal and appropriate.

Hon. Pohiva said he thought it did not make sense for the government to spend taxpayers’ money on such gifts.

He said he still respected the king but there were other ways of presenting gift to His Majesty on such occasion rather than using taxpayers’ money.

“The cabinet ministers could have donated money for it from their own pockets”, Hon. Pohiva said.

The Minister of Justice Vuna Fāʻotusia said the TP$10,000 gift for the king was too small.

He said it may have been better if the normal cultural presentation of Tongan gifts was used rather than donating money.

Hon. Fāʻotusia said Lord Maʻafu who had been serving former cabinets and governments said the TP$10,000 gift presented as gift for the king was something new to him.

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  1. Ko hono huufi ko ia ‘o e palasi foʻou Sā Siaosí ʻi he konga ki muʻa ʻo e māhiná ní naʻe fakamole ki ai ha paʻanga ʻa e kakai tānaki tukuhaú kau ai ʻa e paʻanga $10,000 ne ʻave ko e meʻaʻofa ki Heʻene ʻAfió King Tupou VI.

    Ko e paʻanga ko ʻení ko e konga ia ʻo ha paʻanga ʻe TP$22,000 kuo fehuʻia ʻa hono ʻalunga ʻa ia ne tuku ange ia mei he Fale Paʻangá hili ha fakamoʻoni tohi ʻa e ʻEiki Palēmiá mo ʻene kapineti ʻo fakamahino naʻe ʻikai ken au tali ʻa e fokotuʻu mei he minisitā paʻanga kuo fakamālōlooʻí ke tuku ange ʻa e paʻangá ni.

    Ne meʻa ʻa e ʻEiki Palēmiá ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ʻo pehē ne toʻo e $3000 mei he silini ko ʻení ʻo kumi ʻaki ʻa e fala uongokumi mo e $1000 ki he tauʻolunga ne fakahoko ʻe Mikaela Tuʻivakanō lolotonga e ouaú.

    Naʻá ne meʻa foki ʻo pehē naʻe fakaʻaongaʻi mo e $8000 ka ne ʻikai ke ne tuku mai ko e hā e fakaikiiki ki hono fakamoleki ʻo e paʻanga ko iá.

    Ko hano fakahā foki ʻeni ʻe ʻEiki Palēmiá ʻi ha fakataha mo e kau faiongoongó ʻi he uike kuo ʻosí.

    Hangē ko ia ne līpooti ʻe he Kanivá ki muʻá naʻe ʻikai muimui ʻa Lavemaau ia ki he tuʻutuʻuni kapineti ko ʻeni ke ʻoua naʻa tuku ange ʻa e paʻangá ka ne ʻave pe ʻe ia ki he kōmiti ne nau fokotuʻutuʻu e kātoanga huufi falé.

    Ko e konga foki ʻeni ʻo ha paʻanga ʻe $80,000 ne kole ʻe he kōmití ke fuaʻaki ʻa e ngaahi fakamole ki he ouau huufi falé.

    Pehē ʻe he Palēmiá naʻe ʻikai tui ia ʻoku totonu ke fakaʻaongaʻi e paʻanga tukuhau ʻa e fonuá ki ha meʻaʻofa pehē. Naʻá ne meʻa foki ʻo pehē ʻoku kei fakaʻapaʻapa pe ia ki he tuʻí ka ne ʻi ai e founga kehe ia ne mei lava ai ʻa e tānaki meʻaʻofa ko ʻení hange ko ha lukuluku pe ia ʻa e kapinetí.

    Naʻe pehē foki ʻe he Minisitā Laó ko e kiʻi paʻanga siʻisiʻi ʻeni ia ke fakahoungaʻiʻaki e hāʻele mai ʻa e tuʻí ki he kātoanga huufi pea ko e tonu tahá ka ne ngāueʻaki pe ouau faka-Tonga ʻo e foaki koloa ʻa ia ʻoku ʻalu fakataha aim o e fakatūʻuta.

    Pehē foki ʻe he Minisitaá ko Looti Maʻafu ko e taha ia ʻo e kau matuʻotuʻa he kapinetí pea ne ʻosi ʻi he kapineti mo e ngaahi puleʻanga ki muʻa ʻo ne maheni mo e fakahoko fatongia pehení.

    Naʻá ne pehē ne foʻou ki ai ʻa e ʻai meʻaʻofa paʻanga ʻe taha mano ia ko ʻeni ki he tuʻí