MP Piveni Piukala has defended his proposed motion of no confidence in the Hu’akavameiliku government, saying the government’s financial record justified the move.
In an interview with Facebook livestream programme Radio Television Tonga International (RTTI) Piukala said the government had failed to “aggressively address” the deficit budget.
He said the solution for a deficit budget was to reduce expenses, but this had not been the case. In the previous budget the government’s travelling allowance was budgeted at TP$13 million, but grew to TP$21 million.
Hon. Piukala claimed this was unlawful because the law said the government could only make an increase of 10 percent, or TP$1.3 million. Instead the government increased it by TP$8 million. Piukala described the situation as a crisis currently faced by the nation.
He said there were complaints about the problems with roads, but TP$27 million had been spent on them. He was referring to the former government’s controversial roading project, which is still being dealt with by the Hu’akavameiliku’s government.
During the interview, RTTI owner and journalist Setita Tu’i’onetoa told Hon. Piukala many people did not think this was a time to move a no confidence vote motion because it could affect the economy of the country. She suggested it could stir up political unrest in the country and that the government should be given its remaining two more years to finish off their term.
Hon. Piukala responded by asking where Tu’i’onetoa obtained her facts and said she had given her audience a “misconception of what the reality is.”
He said it was his job as an elected MP to submit the vote of no confidence. He told Tu’i’onetoa her claims were different from the solid information he had.
Tu’i’onetoa told Piukala her source of information was from discussions on social media. She also asked Piukala to explain any failures and causes that would cause enough mistrust in the Hu’akavameiliku government to justify a vote of no confidence.
In response Piukala said, he has been on livestream programmes enough times to explain the failures of this government and he did not know what else he could do to explain it.
Tu’i’onetoa, a New Zealand-based PTOA (Democrat) supporter, was criticised on social media and accused of twisting the interview to look like a vote of no confidence vote was not supported. Other commentators stood by her.
Kaniva News has talked to two presidents of two separate PTOA chapters in New Zealand.
Vainikolo Tāufa, the president of the PTOA Auckland Aotearoa New Zealand, said he was unaware of any protest against the proposed vote of no confidence led by Hon. Piukala. He said his chapter fully supported the vote of no confidence.
Fetuli Aholahi, the president of the PTOA New Zealand said his chapter supported the move for the vote of no confidence. He said the Board of PTOA NZ also supported the move. The Board contains representatives from all PTOA chapters in New Zealand, he said.
In Tongan he said: “‘Oku lahi ‘a e ‘uhinga mei he kamata’anga pe e”. In English, he said they have enough evidence of issues of concern right from the beginning of this government to justify a vote of no confidence.
PTOA Kolope, which included members from the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Tonga, has posted its support for the vote of the no confidence. It said the government’s issue with Lulutai airlines was one of its concerns.