Haʻapai governor regarded development fund as a blessing for his own projects, report says

ʻOku ʻi ai ha fakamatala faka-Tonga ki he talanoá ni ʻi he konga taupotu ki lalo ʻo e ongoongó ni

The Governor of Ha’apai, Moʻale Fīnau, spent nearly all of a TP$150,000 meant for a community development fund, an auditor’s report has found.

The Auditor General’s office investigated the spending, which was allocated to the 2016/17 year.

It said the money was allocated to the Ha’apai Community Development Operation Fund.

Because it was located in Ha’apai it came under the governor’s budget, who used it as “he saw fit.”

The auditor’s report said the governor admitted that he was aware that the fund was for the Ha’apai Development Fund.

However, Governor Finau told Kaniva News today that he had asked the former Minister of Finance, ʻAisake Eke, to assign the $150,000 to his Haʻapai Governor office budget and not to the Haʻapai Development Committee as been done in previous years.

He said Eke agreed after he visited Haʻapai.

The money was spent on goods and services approved  by the governor.

The Noble’s representative from Ha’apai, Lord Tu’ihaangana, who is also the chair of the  committee, asked for an audit through the Speaker of the House, Lord Tu’ivakanō.

The report said the governor regarded the money as “a blessing” and used it to fulfil some projects he had wanted to complete for a long time.

These included a number of construction projects, including fencing, a grandstand and Jonah Lomu Park.

All of the construction costs exceeded the  Ministry of Finance and National Planning’s threshold of TP$7500, which requires projects to be processed through the ministry’s procurement division.

The report said most of the rest of the money was spent on cleaning up of Pangai downtown area and road side.

Proper procedures were not followed in hiring labour.

Assets purchased included a laptop for the use of the governor.

The report described the governor’s spending as “not appropriate.”

Funding for 2017/18 Ha’apai Community Development Operation Fund still came under the governor’s budget.

“The governor is advised to refrain from  repeating the practice,” the report said.

“It is advised that the governor and his office adjust their practices to be in line with government rules and regulations.”

Governor Finau said he had only seen the auditor General’s report yesterday and said its recommendations were “based on what he thinks.”

However, the money was under his control and his interpretation of how it should be spent was different.

The main points

  • The Governor of Ha’apai, Moʻale Finau, spent nearly of a TP$150,000 meant for a community development fund, an auditor’s reports has found.
  • The Auditor General’s office investigated the spending of the money, which was allocated to the 1916/17 year.
  • Governor Finau told Kaniva News the former Minister of Finance, ʻAisake Eke, had agreed to assign the TP$150,000 to his Haʻapai Governor office budget.
  • The report described the governor’s spending as “not appropriate.”

For more information 

Ha’apai Governor charged with careless driving after man injured

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