Ministry refutes claims by the Former Mayor
The Ministry of Local Government has closely followed some of the claims posed by the former Mayor from Labasa (Mr. Charan Jeet Singh) in the media.
The Ministry finds these claims contradictory to its records and understanding. Mr Singh’s claim that the pool is currently operating at a loss clearly shows that the Council members of the day (Mr. Singh was one of them), failed in their duties by not considering the project benefits.
A loan was taken out to finance the $400,000 project in 1997. This cost was met by the ratepayers through their rate payments. It is a justified expectation that the ratepayers expect the return on investment (socially and financially) well calculated by the Council members who are the custodians of the council resources (before venturing in such projects).
Basic criteria like site selection (distance from the main town and the location in a flood prone area) and cost benefit analysis (including financial analysis) seem to have been conveniently ignored by the Councillors.
In 1994 the Council obtained the lease for the new market and bus stand terminal and the Council should have prioritised the market/bus stand relocation project in 1995 rather than borrowing for the construction of a swimming pool. It is quite apparent that the Council chose to ignore the opportunity cost while constructing the swimming pool.
The Council was issued a lease by the Director of lands at Naiyaca in 1994. Mr. Charan Jeet Singh was in office during the time (1994). As a result, (of choosing to build the swimming pool), the Council failed to develop the land given by the Director
of Lands for its future market and the bus station. This then led to the Director of Lands to re- Enter and repossess the land. In the bargain, that piece of prime land was lost.
Such decisions have cost the Council major losses – the Council not only lost a prime property, but potentially an excellent economic long term opportunity for Labasa.
The Fijian Government is determined and committed to seizing such economic opportunities for the ratepayers. The Ministry will work with the Council to improve the conditions of the market and the bus station in Labasa. A proper relocation study has been completed recently. The Labasa ratepayers and citizens will be kept informed on the progress regularly.