Legal threats after minister sacks tourism board of authority

Tourism Minister Semisi Sika could face a legal challenge after claims he took over the board of tourism authority without a Board resolution.

The Chair of the Board Tomifa Paea claimed the Minister’s decision to end their three-year contract with Tourism was illegal.

Paea said the cabinet has yet to make an official decision on their dismissal by Sika.

He claimed Sika’s decision for the acting manager to cease any further contacts with the Board was illegal and that a letter he sent to the bank to change the authorizing signatures for the bank account was made without a Board resolution.

He also claimed Sika has direct conflict of interest with the Tonga Tourism Authority Act 2012 as its business operation is to be independent from the government.

Because of what had happened the BSP Bank has frozen the Tourism’s account, according to Paea.

Tomifā Paea
Tomifā Paea

In a letter received by Kaniva News which was circulated to cabinet ministers and Tourism Authority directors Paea said  the Tonga Tourism Authority Board  approved a resolution on 21 July 2016  to lodge a formal complaint against Sika, the Acting CEO and the Acting Manager of the Ministry.

We had received no response from the Minister when this story was written.

The letter of complaint on July 22 was addressed to the Commissioner of Public Relation ‘Aisea Taumoepeau and was signed by Paea as Chair of the Board.

Paea also claimed that at one stage he and the board members were told to leave the Tourism office and were threatened that Police would be called to deal with them.

He claimed that Sika planned to takeover the  board when he became the Minister of Tourism and Infrastructure.

Paea said he “still strongly support Akilisi and his government”  and if the cabinet  stood by Sika’s decision it would not bother him but he did not accept the minister’s interference with Board matters without following the rules and policy.

Hon Sika was appointed as Tourism Minister on April 18.

Paea was elected chair of the Board by the outgoing MP and Tourism Minister  ‘Etutate Lavulavu who lost his seat in Parliament early this year.

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