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- Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has clarified hiring of expatriates for institutions like the University of the South Pacific (USP) has never been an issue for Fiji Immigration.
Bainimarama was responding to claims that one of the reasons USP hired Dr Rajni Chand as Director Flexible Learning was because of the Immigration Department.
“It was a poor excuse of justification of Biman’s wife’s appointment. In the end, he said she had to be given that post because the immigration wouldn’t allow anybody else from outside. That’s a joke, half of the university’s teachers are expatriates so why wouldn’t we allow anyone from outside to come,” said Bainimarama.
Dr Chand is the wife of Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad and Bainimarama alleged she was promoted because Prasad has close ties with USP Vice Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia.
“Everyone knows his wife has nil experience in that post. As per USP policy, the post should have been advertised internationally. But that was never done. It was done locally to suit Biman’s wife. And the sad thing is someone even went to the extent of trying to justify her appointment by saying the immigration would not allow anyone from overseas to take the post. They think we’re a bunch of kids,” he said.
Bainimarama said Professor Biman Prasad should do the right thing and get his wife to resign.
“Resign or he will always be seen and referred to as a wimp. He should be embarrassed in allowing the issue to fester. He is endorsing corruption by letting his wife continue in that post. He keeps referring to me as a dictator. Really he lacks the strong and decisive leadership which is needed. Which is of course shown in the acceptance of his wife’s promotion. He said there was great opposition from the unions, NGOs and political parties but why isn’t anyone surprised,” said Bainimarama.
The NFP Leader Professor Biman has denied any unethical dealings.
“She is a highly qualified and exemplary woman in her own right. Personally, I am very proud of her and her academic achievements. Dr Rajni Chand has always believed in and promoted meritocracy and she has earned her appointment on merit,” said Prasad.
Meanwhile, acting deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education, Professor Jito Vanualailai, has put to rest rumours regarding the appointment of Director for the Centre of Flexible Learning.
There were concerns that the position was not advertised and given to Dr Rajni Chand.
Setting the record straight, Professor Jito Vanualailai confirmed the position was advertised internally and Dr Chand met all the requirements adding that she was the best-suited person for the job.
“Because it is just an academic position and we normally just look at the internal expertise that we have. If we can get our own people why should we have to go and get overseas people? In any case, the Fiji Immigration will not allow it. If we don’t have people within, then, of course, we have to go outside. But in this case, we have more than enough expertise.”
Vanualailai said the former director Professor Som Naidu was over the retirement age and was not reconsidered for the post.
According to Vanualailai, there are stipulations that allow for an academic post and that of a Director to be advertised internally.
As stipulated in the USP Recruitment Advertising Guidelines,
*7.02.15 Where required under this policy, new or vacant positions will be advertised externally in the appropriate publications and electronic media.
*7.02.16 All positions to be advertised by the University will also be circulated internally on the University website.
*7.02.17 The Immigration Department requires evidence of advertising in the local press, before a position may be offered to a person not holding local citizenship.
He said that Dr Rajni Chand is to be the new Director of CFL for the next three years (2021-2023).
USP Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia has refused to comments on allegations from the Prime Minister.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
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