16 Aug 2007

Calls intensifying for resignation of Fiji minister over tax issues

8:56 am on 16 August 2007

Calls are intensifying in Fiji for the resignation of a senior minister in the interim administration who is alleged to have evaded taxes over several years.

The Fiji Sun reports that the calls follow revelations by an Oxford based Fiji academic, Dr Victor Lal, that the interim minister failed to lodge tax returns in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and had to pay late lodgment penalties when he filed returns in 2003.

Dr Lal says the minister was then billed 57-thousand US dollars for taxes on undeclared income.

He says the records he had obtained showed a dramatic increase in bank interest over four years indicating cash in the bank building up to more than 600-thousand US dollars.

Dr Lal says he has submitted his file on the minister's tax affairs to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption but a spokesperson says they have not received it yet.

The National Federation Party, the SDL party, the Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party and the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers all say the minister should resign or at least step down to allow investigations to take place.

The Nationalist president, Viliame Savu, says if the interim administration is against corruption and works for truth and honesty, the minister should resign because cabinet ministers should be examples to the nation.

Unionist Taniela Tabu has lodged a complaint with the police to investigate but the police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, says the proper authority is the Revenue and Customs Authority which can report to police if it finds criminal liability.