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Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum still in Singapore, we will surrender his passport within 24 hrs when he comes to Fiji – Sharma

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Former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is still in Singapore recovering from the surgery he received last month.

His lawyer, Devanesh Sharma, says from the doctor’s assessment, Sayed-Khaiyum has gone through internal procedures and he won’t be able to travel until the end of December.

Sharma says once he arrives, they will surrender his client’s passport to the court.

Acting Chief Magistrate Waleen George told both counsels that it is better to put a mention date in January.

When the Acting Chief Magistrate questioned Sharma if Sayed-Khaiyum will be in the country in January, he assured the court that Sayed-Khaiyum will be in Fiji.

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Fiji News

Court denies Sayed-Khaiyum’s application to travel

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Suva Magistrate Yogesh Prasad has denied the bail variation application filed by former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

This is in relation to his travel to Singapore for medical treatment.

Magistrate Prasad stated that Sayed-Khaiyum’s surgery is not essential and not necessary.

Sayed-Khaiyum is facing a charge of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Sayed-Khaiyum authorized the government to pay taxes for former Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem without requisite approval from the Constitutional Offices Commission and the President.

In court this afternoon, Magistrate Prasad said that according to Chief Surgeon Doctor Josese Turagava, Fiji does have doctors who are qualified and can attend to the applicant’s medical needs.

He further says that, therefore, it is important to note that Sayed-Khaiyum is not deprived of any medical procedure.

He adds that Sayed-Khaiyum is already on bail and is free to move around for his medical treatment without any restrictions.

Magistrate Prasad also states there is no evidence to prompt any evacuation for Sayed-Khaiyum to be treated abroad.

He says that when stating medical emergencies, he meant immediate hospitalization in a Fiji Government hospital with the latest test results to show any grave situation of pain that the applicant is stating.

He further says that the applicant also failed to provide any information that Fiji does not have any medical facilities, equipment, know-how, specialists, or environment to monitor and evaluate Sayed-Khaiyum’s condition locally.

The court also gave no weight to the report by Dr. Singh that states that Sayed-Khaiyum requires medical evaluation and treatment.

Magistrate Prasad says he considers Dr. Turagava’s testimony that Dr. Singh is not a specialist in this area.

He says the court will elaborate on the substantive matter so that the accused gets a timely trial and conclude without unreasonable delay.

The state while objecting to the application had stated that Sayed-Khaiyum is at flight risk and the charges against him are serious.

The case against the former Attorney General will be called again on the 16th of next month.

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OFC Men’s Nations Cup: Fiji thrashes PNG 5-1 in their opening match

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The Digicel Fiji Bula Boys started their OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2024 campaign on a high after thrashing Papua New Guinea 5-1 in their opening match at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva this afternoon.

Thomas Dunn was the toast of the Fiji side as he scored two goals in each half.

Nabil Begg, captain Roy Krishna and Setareki Hughes were the other goal scorers for Fiji.

Fiji led 2-nil at halftime.

They will now turn their focus to Samoa in round 2 of the competition.

Fiji will take on Samoa at 4pm next Wednesday.

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Parliamentarians’ pay needs to be revisited with proper public consultation and independent evaluation – Fiscal Review Committee

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The Fiscal Review Committee chaired by prominent lawyer, Richard Naidu says that the question of Parliamentarians’ pay needs to be revisited with a proper public consultation and independent evaluation process.

While giving their view on the 2024/2025 National Budget in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad, the Fiscal Review Committee says public confidence in the quality of Government administration is critical to achieving its economic objectives.

It says citizens will not support Government initiatives or align their energies with them – whether as investors, volunteers, public servants or even taxpayers if they do not believe that the Government is working effectively and productively in the nation’s interest.

The Richard Naidu led Committee says in their view, the broad public sense is that the Government is not working to full capacity – or particularly productively.

They say the recent saga over Parliamentary pay rises, which the Prime Minister himself acknowledges was poorly managed, was another dent in public confidence.

It says issues such as frequent foreign travel by Government Ministers, while not fiscally insignificant, have an outsize impact on public perceptions of the productivity and accountability of the Government.

The Committee says conversely, if the Government could show improvements in discipline in these politically sensitive areas it could have a significant positive economic impact.

The Committee encourages the Government to make serious and demonstrable commitments to reduce expenditure on Government Ministers’ travel and perquisites.

Overall, the Committee believes that the Government’s decisions in the 2023-24 National Budget to significantly increase taxes, in particular corporate tax and VAT, were bold and necessary.

They say the tax measures did not conform exactly with the Committee’s specific recommended measures but they were in the Committee’s view appropriate in principle.

The Committee says they responded to the urgent need to properly fund Government operating and capital expenditure, particularly infrastructure, where there is serious “catching up” to do on water and sewerage, roads and bridges, hospitals and health centres and other critical facilities such as school buildings, avoid large deficits and create a “fiscal buffer” to enable Government to respond to future shocks such as major weather events, stabilize and begin to reduce the critical Government debt to GDP ratio.

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