21 Oct 2020

Fiji's NFP slams elections chief over party donation claims

1:26 pm on 21 October 2020

Fiji's opposition National Federation Party has criticised the Elections Office over what it claims are a deliberate misrepresentation by the State over donations to the political party.

Leader of the National Federation Party Biman Prasad

Leader of the National Federation Party Biman Prasad Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Last week the Supervisor of Elections and Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, referred NFP leader Biman Prasad to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Saneem alleged the NFP's Relief and Welfare Fund made just over $US1,000 in relief payments following Cyclone Winston in 2016.

He said this was out of nearly $US11,000 the NFP fund had received for its relief and welfare assistance.

But Prasad criticised Saneem, saying the elections chief had misquoted the information the NFP had given him in response to his queries over its financial accounts.

"If he has misunderstood what we told him, he should ask us for clarification," he said.

"He should not hold press conferences making accusations about things he has misunderstood."

Saneem had originally asked us for information about the bank account set up for Relief and Welfare Fund payments, the NFP leader said.

Prasad said the NFP had given him that information, "in good faith".

"We have explained to him why some Relief and Welfare Fund payments did not come out of that bank account," he said.

"This is because the Parliamentary Secretariat did not pay money into that account for many months.

The NFP leader said in 2016 alone, the party spent nearly $US5,000 in relief payments before any parliamentary money was received.

Prasad said Saneem had simply published a list of payments out of that bank account "knowing full well that this is not the full amount of our Relief and Welfare Fund payments".

Prasad said many payments were made to individuals who needed support.

"We are taking advice on what we can disclose about these payments," the NFP leader said.

"We want our members and supporters to know how the money was spent - regardless of Mr Saneem's opinions."

Mohammed Saneem.

Mohammed Saneem. Photo: Fiji govt