17 May 2002

Fiji government rejects call for judicial inquiry into farming assistance scam

8:18 am on 17 May 2002

The Fiji government has rejected a Labour Party motion calling for a judicial inquiry into the 13 million US dollar farming assistance scam in the agriculture ministry.

Labour's Lekh Ram Vyashnoi moved the motion in parliament, saying the farming assistance scheme was used for vote buying when the prime minister,Laisenia Qarase, headed the interim administration.

Mr Vyashnoi said corruption, bribery and fraud were the hallmarks of the SDL government and there was an urgent need to investigate the abuse of public funds through the scheme.

But the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, rejected the motion saying the idea is a waste of time and money because police are already investigating the issue.

Mr Bale said he had been authorised to disclose that the suspended head of the ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, had told the police that the interim government did not direct him to release farming implements for vote buying.