31 May 2005

Taxpayers will bear burden of Reconciliation Bill, says Fiji economist

10:21 am on 31 May 2005

A leading Fiji economist says taxpayers will have to carry the burden of the Qarase government's proposed Reconciliation and Unity Commission.

Writing in the Fiji Times, Dr Wadan Narsey says the proposed Reconciliation Commission and its subcommittees will cost taxpayers more than US$3.6 million in salaries for members, support staff, hotel bills, travel allowances and office facilities.

Dr Narsey says this doesn't include any compensation the Commission may award.

Dr Narsey says the public must ask why the compensation should be paid by ordinary, hardworking, innocent taxpayers who were neither the perpetrators not the beneficiaries of the coup.

Apart from the finances, Dr Narsey says the pardon of military officers jailed for coup-related crimes would only create ill-discipline within the armed forces and directly affect the confidence of foreign investors worried about the security of their portfolios in Fiji.

Dr Narsey has expressed concern over the powers of the Reconciliation Commission allowing it to direct the courts to suspend civil proceedings as a result of actions claimed to be grounds for amnesty.

He says claims for compensation would be taken out of the hands of the judicial system and placed in the hands of a politically appointed commission.

Dr Narsey says "criminals would be granted amnesty, protected from civil or criminal charges, and given immunity from claims for fair compensation."

He warns that someone's investment could be destroyed or seriously harmed in the name of some alleged "political objective."