31 Jan 2006

Welfare corruption prompts reporting hotline in Fiji

8:12 am on 31 January 2006

Corruption in Fiji's ministry of social welfare has prompted its chief executive to plan a telephone hotline so members of the public can report abuse.

The Fiji Times says this follows reports that a senior civil servant and a businessman would be charged for defrauding the government's US$12 million Family Assistance Scheme and Poverty Assistance Programme.

The chief executive, Emele Duituturaga, says a social welfare officer had defrauded the Family Assistance Scheme of over US$30,000 in collusion with a businessman.

She says in another case, public servants handing the Poverty Alleviation Programme have defrauded the government of well in excess of US$60,000.

Another officer has been suspended in the ministry after complaints from the public who will now have a hotline to make further reports.

This is the fourth suspension by the ministry in a sweeping investigation by the Auditor General's Office, the ministry's own internal investigation unit and the police.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission has launched an investigation into three contracts to supply gravel for road construction awarded to a company owned by two sons of the director of roads, Mosese Nailumu.