Akilisi Pohiva's Democracy Party is set to take the leading role in the new Government of Tonga following the kingdom's first democratic elections last weekend.

Mr Pohiva talked to political editor Audrey Young at his home in Nuku'alofa at the weekend and these are some of his views.

POLICY PRIORITIES

"The first important thing for the new Government to do is to find out where we are financially, in other words, the new Government will have to look at the actual financial position of the Government at this point in time.

"To be able to do that the new Government will demand an audited financial report of all monies, properties, assets before we move on.

"The other related issue in terms of Government services currently implemented, and the economic activities and proposals, the new Government will have to find out what has been completed and what remains to be completed before we move on.

"The second thing is we really want extra check and balances put in place to make sure Government functions efficiently and effectively.

"We have to have a public account committee to scrutinise Government expenditure [open to the press]. Tonga still doesn't have any public account committee.

"There are also leakages of Government revenues to somewhere else and not to Government especially in the Customs Department and also Inland Revenue.

"We have lost millions, million of pa'anga in these two.

"The whole thing is chaotic. It's out of control."

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

"It is very very important for the new Government to make sure that both transparency and accountability as check and balance mechanisms are in place.

"For a Government to operate effectively and efficiently it must have these two very vital elements.

"In addition the new Government must encourage freedom of the press so media should be encouraged to be part of the process.

ON LIFTING THE BAN ON FAIRFAX JOURNALIST MICHAEL FIELD

"I did not see any reason why the Tongan Government imposed such a severe penalty on him. It was the duty of the Tonga Government to respond or rebut any statement he made instead of imposing a penalty of a ban.

"I haven't thought about it [lifting the ban] but since freedom of the press is an important part of democracy, why not?"

POSITION ON TONGA'S CONTRIBUTION TO AFGHANISTAN [55 troops]

"That was not an important issue during our campaign. But I think our Government will look at it. [Deputy leader] Steven Halapua responded saying that his experience from what had happened in the Pacific -and he pointed directly to Fiji, several coups and also Solomon Islands, Vanuatu - and he said it is not good for Tongan Government to send troops or soliders to Afghanistan. That was his response to a question [in an election meeting] but I think he is in a better position to say because he knows better than anybody else about the Pacific, so many crisis that happened in the Pacific."

ON RETIRING PRIME MINISTER FELETI SEVELE

"We really need very active Tongan people in the private sector and his is one of the leading businessmen in Tonga. It's for him to get the Tongan's together and work with them. It's about time for him to retire from Government and go back to the private sector and push the private sector. It's the responsibility of Government to put in policies to accommodate the needs of the private sector.

But I think the new Government can always call him for advise, or anybody else, not only Fred, especially ministers who were working in Government for so many years, Dr [Bill] Tangi, for example[ former deputy Prime minister].

"It's about time for all Tongans to pull together, stand together, work together."

REFORMING GOVT AND CIVIL SERVICE ATTITUDES

"We want senior Government officers to review their attitudes towards work because working under the old system in a system where there was no accountability or transparency, they developed some sort of mentality and attitude that is not conducive to successful development. So they have to learn how to adapt to the new system. That process of adaptation may take time. The means leadership is very, very important.

"Starting with the Prime Minister and all ministers, they must set the example. They must show they are good leaders, reliable and have integrity. If they do not have integrity, that might affect the performance of the civil servants.

"Some are lazy. Civil servants who use computers, nobody in there to supervise that and sometimes they leave their work aside and play games on them and do other things instead of doing work.

"Misuse of Government vehicles is common,. Travelling overseas on trivial things is another. Travelling on first class is terrible."

THE RELIANCE ON REMITTANCES FROM TONGANS OVERSEAS

"At this point in time we will continue to depend on remittances that covering 70 per cent of our national income. But at the same time it's not good because too much relying on foreign aid and dependency kills the sense of initiative and sense of originality of the Tongan people."

FUTURE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

"Political reform is not yet completed. There is still a long way to go. The nobles are not democratically elected. They are not accountable to the people; they are accountable to the King.

"So the ultimate goal is to establish a fully elected Government, which means every member is elected by the people.

"[At present] there is a division of accountability - one group is accountable to the people, one group is accountable to the King.

"And there must be allow parties. It is another integral part of democracy. "

ON NO WOMEN ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT

"That's democracy. We have more women on the electoral roll than men. It's not difficult at all. It's not a problem for women to select a woman. The provision in our constitution allows everybody. Everybody is the same in the face of the law. If female people in this country value or feel it is about time for a woman to become a representative they could easily do it, no problem."