FBC Chief sacked, Board to probe finances and grant

FBC Chief sacked, Board to probe finances and grant

Sacked Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Chief Executive Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (FBC Photo)

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Suva, Fiji, January 31, 2023

The Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Board has terminated the contract of the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Chief Executive Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Chairman Ajay Amrit said that the Board has no confidence in his ability.

The decision followed a seven-hour meeting between Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, the Board of Directors and Executive Directors of the Company on January 27, 2023.

On Friday, the New FBC Board met with Sayed-Khaiyum and the Executive Directors from FBC. The meeting lasted seven hours.

Mr Amrit said that Chief Finance Officer Vimlesh Sagar will act in this position until the Board can confidently appoint a person with the appropriate commercial competency and attributes needed to lead the company.

He said that the Board has also been made aware that the Chief Executive earns considerably more than government ministers and even the Prime Minister.

This was a shock to the board, it would be a shock to most of the citizens,” he said.

Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Ajay Amrit (FBC Photo)

Unacceptable extravagance

He said that accountability and transparency have been brought up in Parliament many times over the past few years and that it saddens him to confirm reports regarding the purchase of a vehicle for the CEO that has cost the company more than $200,000.

Mr Amrit said that he and his Board consider it highly inappropriate, and this was certainly not the direction that the new government and the new FBC Board would want.

He later confirmed that the cost of the vehicle, imported from New Zealand was $207,470.

Mr Amrit described the purchase as “extravagance at its greatest” and that the vehicle will be put up for tender with the proceeds remitted to the Company.

“I have not seen the vehicle. I know it is Volkswagen or something like that,” he said.

It is understood that Mr Amrit and the Board have had preliminary discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Professor Biman Prasad, and with the concurrence of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, the government’s grant to FBC will be reviewed.

Mr Amrit said that the Board will work with the staff and management to ensure that FBC is a financially viable and self-sustaining commercial business while honouring its PSB responsibilities.

Investigation ordered

He confirmed that an investigation has been called to look into the spending of the PSB fee or grant from the government to FBC, which since the current CEO took over in 2008 has now totalled more than $93 million.

He said that the government will work with other media organisations to ensure that there is a positive change to the current media laws, which will allow the FBC newsroom to function in a fresh, balanced, and new environment.

Mr Amrit has also acknowledged the work of the senior management and staff of FBC and has reassured all staff and senior management that it will be business as usual but moving towards new goals and new opportunities.

He said that the collective objective and commitment to the staff, shareholders, and valued listeners and viewers will not change.

High Salary against poverty

Mr Amrit said that the annual salary of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was $304,453.08 and that he received $25,671.28 in bonus during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Amrit said such a high salary was unacceptable at a time when most people were taking a pay cut  Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was also due to receive about $35,000 in bonus this year.

“The Company would have lost more than $63 million if the government halted its grant. We reassure all staff that there will be no job losses.

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