21 Aug 2007

Fiji academic urges EU re-examine Fiji regime's tax approach

1:03 pm on 21 August 2007

An Oxford-based Fiji academic says the European Union and other international financial donors must seriously re-appraise their financial packages for Fiji if the interim administration refuses to sack or suspend a minister for suspected tax evasion.

Dr Victor Lal's call follows statements by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority chairman, Filipe Bole, that the allegations of tax evasion against the minister are a politically motivated smear campaign.

The minister is alleged to have a scandalous history of tax evasion on incomes of up to 107,000 US dollars a year over several years.

Last week, the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, said he would not sack any interim cabinet minister over allegations of tax evasion because it would be unfair to make any such decision based on the claims of certain people.

Dr Victor Lal says shortly after the coup various people were publicly named, shamed, taken to the military barracks, warned, tortured and later unceremoniously booted out of jobs, boards and institutions without a shred of evidence produced against them.

Dr Lal says he has sent all the documentary evidence in his possession to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Prime Minister' Office who should take action.

He says hopefully Commodore Bainimarama will sack the interim minister when the documents he has sent land on the prime minister's desk. .

Dr Lal says it would be a contributory part of his much vaunted clean-up campaign.