While there is a policy forbidding kava consumption in government offices during working hours, exceptions can be made by the line permanent secretary on a case-by-case basis.
This was the clarification made by Civil Service permanent secretary Parmesh Chand in response to queries from this newspaper.
“Yes, there is a policy that essentially forbids kava drinking during normal working hours, and also on government premises,” he said.
“There are, however, exceptions to this if prior approval is obtained from the relevant permanent secretary. Respective permanent secretaries are responsible for enforcing policies in the workplace. This also applies to the policy on kava drinking.”
When asked about the recent incident where Minister for Disaster Management Sakiasi Ditoka, Attorney-General Siromi Turaga and other government officials were pictured drinking kava at the disaster response office, Mr Chand said they were satisfied with the justification that was provided.
“He (Mr Ditoka) has explained that officials and ministers had a few bilos during a talanoa session following a hard day’s work in preparing the country for the approaching Cyclone Mal.
“They reviewed the day’s activities, shared information, and acknowledged the efforts made by staff. We believe the minister, his team and the NDMO did a very good job in activating and maintaining measures to protect the people and the country.
“I reiterate that kava drinking is not permitted during official work hours on government premises, unless approved by respective permanent secretaries on a case-by-case basis.”
Meanwhile Opposition Member of Parliament Ketan Lal said if ministers found his criticism unfair, they should reflect on their own actions.