PM says claims his son-in-law’s company won Teufaiva construction bid “absolutely wrong”

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has denied  that his son-in-law’s construction company in Hawaiʻi was given the task of building the Teufaiva Stadium for the South Pacific Games in 2019.

The Prime Minister was responding after a letter circulated on social media last week, asking whether it was true he had won the contract.

The letter was claimed to be from Tonga’s Media Council, but the name of the letter’s writer was not shown on the part of the document uploaded to Facebook. The Council has not claimed responsibility for the letter.

Hon. Pohiva said his son-in-law recently helped with the construction work for the Va’epopua National Park while he was holidaying in Tonga with his family.

The Prime Minister said this was part of his effort to contribute to the building of his country before they returned to Hawaiʻi.

Hon. Pōhiva said his son-in-law was doing the work voluntarily. He was not being paid by the government and had not asked to be paid.

The Prime Minister’s daughter told Kaniva News this evening her husband did not own a construction company in Hawaiʻi.

ʻAna Fifita Koli said her husband was a stonemason and worked for his brother in Hawaiʻi.

The letter circulated on social media last week was addressed to the Acting CEO of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Pesalili Tuiano, asking him to hold a press conference with the Tongan media.

“I wish to ask you on behalf of the Tonga Media Council for a press conference pertaining to the following issues,” the letter said.

“Is it true that the Prime Minister’s son-in-law’s construction company from Hawaiʻi got the reconstruction of Teufaiva Stadium?”

“If it’s true, was it advertised to the public? And how many construction companies bid for the reconstruction of Teufaiva? And who pick the company of the Prime Minister’s son-in-law?”

The letter also asked Tuiano whether it was true or not same company will conduct that construction work as well?

“What do you think if the above questions are all true? Do you think it’s a conflict of interest?”

“Looking forward to your available time for the requested press conference as we all want to inform the public with the truth but not hearsay or rumours.”

In a press statement this afternoon Hon. Pohiva said the rumour that his son-in-law would lead the building of Teufaiva Stadium for the Pacific Games was “absolutely wrong.”

He said the reconstruction of Teufaiva would be led by a team from the government of Papua New Guinea and the requirements for the work were still being discussed.

The Prime Minister said the construction of the first part of the Va’epopua National Park was jointly funded by all government’s ministries and businesses.

The budget and planning for the rest of the work had been finalised and the government was seeking funding from stakeholders and overseas donors.

The government was optimistic funding from donors, businesses and stakeholders would be enough to complete the Va’epopua National Park.

The Prime Minister has donated TP$10,000 for the project and that money and funds from donors who had pledged financial support would be deposited into a new vote opened at Treasury.

The government  said money could be allocated from the 2016-17 budget towards the work.

The Prime Minister said Tongans who had the talent and experience should be given the opportunity to contribute to the building of Tonga.

“We ask the people of the nation and stakeholders to work together and help what the government do to keep our environment beautiful,” he said.

The main points

  • Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has denied that his son-in-law’s construction company in Hawai’i was given the task of building the Teufaiva Stadium for the South Pacific Games in 2019.
  • The letter was claimed to be from Tonga’s Media Council, but the name of the letter’s writer was not shown on the part of the document uploaded to Facebook.
  • In a press statement this afternoon Hon. Pohiva said the rumour that his son-in-law would lead the building of Teufaiva Stadium for the Pacific Games was “absolutely wrong.”
  • The Prime Minister’s daughter told Kaniva News this evening her husband did not own a construction company in Hawai’i.

For more information

Tonga will host the Pacific Games 2019

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