Those who say we must have the Pacific Games don’t care if the country suffers, Dr Tu’i’onetoa says

  02 Jun 2017

NUKU’ALOFA, 31 MAY 2107 (KANIVA TONGA NEWS) —Minister of Customs and Revenue Dr. Pohiva Tuʻiʻonetoa said people who insist Tonga must have the Pacific Games do not care whether the people suffer. [restrict]

 

Those who wanted to bring the Games to Tonga just wanted to look for themselves and what they could get, he said.

 

He said: “We have a Tongan saying ‘You insist on being praised by the kāinga but they will suffer as a result.’ This refers to some one who insists on doing what he or she wants and seeks the help of his or her siblings and immediate relatives to help stage his or her celebration. He or she knew they were poor, but he or she did not care about it as long as his or her celebration is done”.

 

Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa was responding to questions from Kaniva News, about his views on calls from sport bodies for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva to reverse his decision to withdraw from hosting the Games.

 

The Chair of the Organizing Committee for the Pacific Games, Lord Sevele, held a meeting in Auckland on Sunday evening to get supports from sports agents in New Zealand for his attempt to negotiate with the government to bring back the Games to Tonga.

 

Lord Sevele was supported by Lord Vaea, the former Minister of Internal Affairs when Tonga bid to bring the Games to the kingdom in 2012.

 

They also held a meeting in Tonga recently and it was attended by 40 delegates from 17 National Federations.

 

The Pacific Games Council has offered the Tongan government an olive branch, giving it to the end of June to make up its mind before it passes on the hosting opportunity to another country.

 

Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa, who is also the Minister of Labour, Commerce and Tourism said he did not think the Pacific Games Council would be able to change the decision made by the government.

 

His statement was confirmed after Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva assured the nation in a televised and live broadcasting press conference in Nukualofa, Tonga would not host the Games.

 

Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa said the words that fitted the decision by the government was “fakapotopoto” which indicated prudence and good governance and not feastings.

 

He said the Pacific Games Council did not have money to give Tonga for the Games.

 

“If they come, they can only tell us to cut this and leave that like cutting down costs to education, agricultures, fisheries and road maintenance,” the Minister said.

 

“These services are running with the financial support of foreign donors and soft loans from the World Bank and the ADB as our taxes are not enough to pay for them.”

 

While loans had to be paid back it would be unwise to spend any money on the Games, Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa said.

 

He said the government of Lord Sevele and his supporters began processing the bid to have Tonga host the Games in 2010-2011 and it was successful in the 2012- 13 fiscal year. At the same time the shortfalls in government’s revenues in the years up to 2015 – 16 financial year were millions of dollars, Dr Tu’i’onetoa said.

 

Dr Tu’i’onetoa, who was Tonga’s Auditor General for more than 20 years, said the estimates by the Minister of Finance and it was the same with that by the outgoing Finance Minister indicated the poor financial outlook for the Games would stay the same.

 

The government spent more than the revenues it would be able to collect, Dr Tu’i’onetoa said.

 

The government’s survival relied on budget support from foreign donors, he said.

 

“There are good signs for our economy since we came to power,  but the rate of the government’s expenses still exceeded the amount of revenues collected,” Dr Tu’i’onetoa said…..PACNEWS [/restrict]