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Public accountability, public accounts committee and constitutional design: a case study of Fiji

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Finau, G ORCID: 0000-0001-5708-8654 and Tavaiqia, L 2017 , 'Public accountability, public accounts committee and constitutional design: a case study of Fiji' , Journal of South Pacific Law , pp. 55-72 .

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Abstract

This paper discusses the constitutional provisions relating to Fiji’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). While many Pacific jurisdictions have inherited the British Westminster system, there is variation in their constitutions with regards to PACs -- specifically the mandate, composition, and leadership of the PAC. Most research and international best practice recommends that PACs must be chaired by a non-government member and should also be dominated by non-government members. Such a structure is argued to enhance the independence of PACs, which will in turn lead to a more effective scrutiny of government spending. While some Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have PAC provisions stipulated in their constitutions, the authority of PACs in Fiji stems from Parliamentary Standing Orders. The differences in the constitutional authority of PACs provides greater discretion to Fiji’s Parliament, and other countries in the Pacific with similar structures, to change aspects of PACs. In 2014, the Fiji Parliament made an unprecedented move to amend Standing Orders, which allows a Government member to chair the PAC. Fiji’s case highlights post-colonial states’ growing awareness that the “rules of the game” can be changed and may be a catalyst for other PICs to circumvent parliamentary oversight systems and institutions.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Finau, G and Tavaiqia, L
Keywords: public accounts committees, public accountability, constitutional design, parliament, Fiji, Pacific
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of South Pacific Law
Publisher: University of the South Pacific * School of Law
ISSN: 1684-5307
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Author. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US

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