From Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) Pensioners in support of Burness v FNPF, the Republic of Fiji and the Attorney General [HBC 183 of 2011]
Last week in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Pacific Beat programme, the Attorney General of Fiji stated that the President of Fiji does not have the power to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the Fiji National Provident Fund’s mismanagement of our funds. He was reported to have said:
‘the idea that the President might set up a Commission of Inquiry is laughable as he does not have that power’.
We are concerned about this statement because the power to appoint a Commission of Inquiry is a prerogative power vested in the Head of State and is always exercised for the public good.Such prerogative power in Fiji was captured in Cap 47 of the Laws of Fiji which still remains in our statute books. It is also an inherent power of the Head of State.
We are also concerned because for the Attorney General of Fiji to boldly state that the ‘idea that the President might set up a Commission of Inquiry is laughable…’ is a gross insult to the appeal of the people of Fiji to you Sir to resolve our concerns that the FNPF has been mismanaged to the extent that that our pensions will be reduced. The statements of the FNPF management in public meetings to us and in their media advertisements that this will happen in fact have been absolutely clear to everyone. Protesting is seen as ‘self-interest’!
Since we do not have any parliamentarians to take our concerns to, nor do we have our Constitution in place to provide us with avenues for constitutional redress, we have appealed to your Excellency’s inherent and statutory power to appoint such a Commission of Inquiry into the FNPF so that we, the beneficiaries, can get some answers. We ask- will FNPF be another NBF?
The established protocols of Commissions of Inquiry, since the days of William the Conqueror in our adopted English Legal System, are that (i) they are appointed by the Head of State; (ii) they are appointed in the public interest; (iii) they are public in nature; and (iv) they are independent. We appeal to you Sir to appoint such a Commission as a mechanism for also upholding the tenets of the People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress which is a Compact between a wide cross section of the people of Fiji and the State, namely the Republic of Fiji.
The proposed reduction of our pensions affecting our livelihoods is not a ‘laughable’ issue for us.