Rejection of TP$60,000 proposal may have angered Deputy and Finance Minister, PM says

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Former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and former Minister of Finance Tēvita Lavemaau

Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva said he suspected his rejection of a proposal by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister to spend TP$60,000 on the opening of the St George Palace had turned the duo against him.

Hon. Pōhiva sacked Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and Minister of Finance Tēvita Lavemaau on Friday before he left for Samoa to attend the Pacific Leaders forum.

His son and personal assistant Po’oi Pōhiva told Kaniva News yesterday the Prime Minister had submitted the letter of the ministers’ dismissals to the king on Friday evening.

He said they received a message from the Lord Chamberlain saying that she had handed in the letter to His Majesty.

Po’oi said the Prime Minister was expecting a response from the king on Monday.

Hon. Lavemaau and Hon. Sovaleni proposed to the Cabinet that TP$60,000 be allocated to help fund the preparations for the opening ceremony of the St George Palace on Friday.

Hon. Pōhiva said he and some of the ministers who attended a cabinet meeting did not approve the proposal as they thought it was a huge amount of money to be spent on the ceremony.

His Majesty King Tupou VI, who suddenly dissolved Parliament and put Hon. Pōhiva and his government on caretaker mode opened the new multi-million St George Government Building on Friday.

He was welcomed by the Prime Minister during the ceremony and they shook hands before the king left the event.

The TP$28 million building project was funded by the Chinese government in an agreement signed in 2012.

The fully equipped building with a floor area of around 5745 square metre has housed the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cabinet Chambers.

The Interim Prime Minister alleged Hon. Sovaleni and Hon. Lavemaau knew about the King’s and Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano’s plan to dissolve Parliament, but they did not warn him because they were holding a grudge against him after their proposal was rejected, he told Radio Tonga Broadcom and Tonga Daily News last night.

Hon. Pōhiva said he was very disappointed with Sovaleni and Lavemaau’s action in that they should have warmed him about the dissolution.

He implied that if he had been warned of the plan to dissolve the House he might have approached the king first.

He said he found out when he arrived in New Zealand on his way to Samoa last week some people in New Zealand knew the king was going to dissolve Parliament.

Hon. Pōhiva said there were other things he was concerned about towards the two ministers but he did not reveal them.

Dismissals

It appeared the dismissals did not go through the cabinet before they were made, as they shocked some of the Ministers who only found about the decision from Kaniva News on Saturday morning.

It appeared Hon. Pōhiva did not approach Hon. Lavemaau and Hon. Sovaleni about their dismissals and the Prime Minister did not say whether he had proof the ministers knew about plan to dissolve Parliament.

The two dismissed cabinet members reportedly said they knew nothing about their dismissals.

Hon. Dr. Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa, who was appointed as replacement Minister of Finance did not know about his appointment.

He told us he only knew about it from Kaniva News and he had not received any message about it.

Hon. Pōhiva confirmed last night he had also appointed Lord Ma’afu as Deputy Prime Minister and Hon. Poasi Tei to the MEIDECC.

Lord Ma’afu told Radio New Zealand he was unaware of his appointment and the reshuffle.

Hon. Pōhiva said he would not appoint new ministers from outside cabinet after the dismissals of Hon. Sovaleni and Hon. Lavemaau.

Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu told the radio Hon. Pōhiva still held the power to dismiss any of his ministers while the government was in caretaker mode.

Hon. Lavemaau and Hon. Sovaleni have been contacted for comment.

The main points

  • Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva said he suspected his rejection of a proposal by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister to spend TP$60,000 on the opening of the St George Palace had turned the duo against him
  • Pohiva sacked Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and Minister of Finance Tevita Lavemaau on Friday before he left for Samoa to attend the Pacific Leaders forum.
  • Pohiva alleged Hon. Sovaleni and Hon. Lavemaau knew about the King’s and Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano’s plan to dissolve Parliament, but did not warn him because their proposal was rejected
  • The two dismissed cabinet members reportedly said they knew nothing about their dismissals.

For more information

PM Pōhiva has sacked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

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  1. Mahalao’i ‘e he ‘Eiki Palēmiá ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ko hono ʻikai tali ko ia e fokotuʻu ʻa e ʻEiki Tokoni Palēmiá mo e Minisitā Paʻangá ke fakamoleki ha paʻanga ʻe $60,00o ki hono huufi ko ia ʻo e Palasi Sangato Siaosí ne hoko ia ke sītuʻa ai ʻa e toko uá ni meiate ia.

    Naʻe kapusi ʻe Pōhiva ʻa Siaosi Sovaleni ko e Tokoni Palēmiá mo Tēvita Lavemaau ʻi he efiaf Falaité ki muʻa peá ne meʻa ki Haʻamoa ki he fakataha ʻa e kau taki Pasifikí.

    Naʻe fakahā ʻe heʻene sekelitali taautahá Poʻoi Pōhiva ki he ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ʻaneafi naʻe fakahū atu ʻe Pōhiva ʻa e tohi kapusi ʻa e toko ua ko ʻení ʻi he efiafi Falaité ki he tuʻí.

    Naʻá ne pehē foki kuo maʻu ʻe he ʻEiki Palēmiá ha fekau mei he ʻEiki Tauhi ʻo e Tuʻí kuó ne ʻosi ʻave ʻa e tohí ki Heʻene ʻAfió.

    ʻOku fakafuofua ʻa e ʻEiki Palēmiá ʻe maʻu e tali mei he tuʻí he ʻahó ni ʻaho Mōnité.

    Naʻe fokotuʻu atu ʻe Lavemaau mo Sovaleni ki he Kapinetí ke toʻo mai ha Ono Mano mei he Fale Paʻangá ke fuaʻaki ʻa e fakamole ki hono huufi ʻo e Palasi Sā Siaosí.

    Naʻe ʻikai tali ʻeni ʻe he ʻEiki Palēmiá mo kinautolu ne ʻi ha fakataha ʻa e Kapinetí ʻi heʻenau tui ko e paʻanga lahi ia ke fakamoleki.

    Naʻe huufi foki ʻe he tuʻí ʻa e Palasi ko ʻeni ʻa ia ne feʻunga moe paʻanga $28 miliona ko e tokoni ia ʻa e puleʻanga Siainá ʻi ha aleapau ne fakamoʻoniʻi ʻi he 2012.

    Ko e fale ko ʻení feʻunga mo e sikuea mita ʻe 5745 pea kuo ʻi ai ʻa e ʻŌfisi ʻo e Palēmiá, Potungāue Paʻangá mo e Palani Fakafonuá, Potungāue ki Mulí mo e Fakatahaʻanga Kapinetí.

    ʻOku tui ʻa e ʻEiki Palēmiá fakatatau ki heʻene meʻa ki he letiō Broadcom mo e Tonga Daily News naʻe mamahi tokua ʻa e ongo minisitā ko ʻeni kuo kapusí ʻi he ʻikai tali ʻena fokotuʻu ke toʻo ʻa e paʻanga ki he huufi falé.

    Kuó ne tukuakiʻi naʻe ʻilo pe ʻa Sovaleni mo Lavemaau ki he palani ke veteki ʻa e Fale Aleá ka ne ʻikai ke na fakapā ange koeʻuhī ko ʻena ʻita tokua ʻi he ʻikai tali ʻena fokotuʻú.

    ʻI ai mo e ngaahi meʻa kehe pe ne hohaʻa ai ʻa e ʻEiki Palēmiá kau ki he toko ua ko ʻení ka ne ʻikai ke ne tuku mai.

    Ko e kapusi ko ʻeni ʻoku ngali ne ʻikai fou ia ʻi he Kapinetí koeʻuhī he tokolahi kau minisitā ne ʻikai ke nau ʻilo ki ai toki ʻilo ʻe kinautolu mei he Ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ʻi he hengihengi Tokonakí.

    ʻOku ʻikai foki mahino ʻi he meʻa ʻa e Palēmiá pe naʻe fai hano fakapā ki he ongo minisitaá ni ki muʻa pea kapusi kinaua pea naʻe ʻi ai haʻane fakamoʻoni pau ki he tukuakiʻi ko ʻeni ʻo kinaua pe ko ha fakaʻapē pe.

    Pehē ʻe he ʻĀteni Seniale Leʻoleʻó ʻoku kei maʻu kakato pe ʻe he ʻEiki Palēmia ʻa hono mafai ke ne kapusi ha minisitā pe fakanofo neongo ʻoku lolotonga leʻoleʻo pe ʻa hono puleʻangá ki muʻa he fili lahi ʻi Nōvemá.