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The reason for the season

4 December 2020

Letter: Independence and integrity of Government institutions

Tuesday 17 November 2020 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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"The rental of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance’s private property to the Chamber of Commerce in Tutakimoa borders on a potential and/or direct conflict of interest clouded under the guise of Covid-19 assistance to the community."

The Government under the leadership of incumbent Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon Mark Brown is commended for managing our dissipated economic and business environment through social stability and continuity programmes and incentives during this severe global pandemic. Whilst there are real positive outcomes and attempts to deliver tangible community benefits, there exists, in some cases, questionable and highly dubious decisions that are openly hidden beneath the scope of public service delivery by the Minister of Finance and Cabinet.

The rental of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance’s private property to the Chamber of Commerce in Tutakimoa borders on a potential and/or direct conflict of interest clouded under the guise of Covid-19 assistance to the community. The Chamber of Commerce, in good faith, rents this property from Te Kou Management Ltd, a company registered and owned by Mark Brown (800 $1.00 shares) and Daphne Brown (100 $1.00 shares). This “red flag situation” questions our law and order agencies such as the Audit Office’s Special Reviews division. What are they doing about this and many other perceived irregularity situations and why are they turning a “blind eye” to so many incongruities in the name of good governance.

Which brings me to my second point. Why did the Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible for the Audit Office and PERC, Hon Mark Brown, roll over the recent reappointment of the Director of Audit for another 3 years? Why was this important and independent statutory position not advertised like the Police Commissioner and the Public Service Commissioner’s posts? Was the reappointment based on high performance criteria or some other reason? In my view, it cannot be high performance but another reason.

The present Director of Audit (who is a friend of mine) has been in this position for over nine years and although the Office under his leadership has tried to do its best in terms of financial auditing, in my view, it has failed in the area of special reviews and investigations covering waste, misuse, abuse and possible fraud within the public and civil sector.

The independence and integrity of Government’s law and order institutions is paramount to our democratic governance and if hidden cracks and internal arrangements are part of the “invisible hand” then mismanagement and corruption will follow this and other administrations.

Paul Raui Pokoati Allsworth

Office of the Prime Minister replies:

Reply: The family company TKM Ltd has been in existence for over 20 years.  The Chamber of Commerce is one of the most outspoken organisations that holds government accountable for its actions. If Mr Allsworth believes either the tenant or the landlord are involved in something nefarious then it is suggested that he file a complaint with the appropriate authorities.

With respect to the reappointment of the current Director of Audit, Mr Allsworth would be best to direct his concerns to the Public Service Commissioner.

Office of the Prime Minister