19 Jun 2002

Fiji denies allegations of visas being handed out illegally

3:28 pm on 19 June 2002

The head of Fiji's Immigration Department is strongly denying allegations from the Labour party that officials are handing out visas they shouldn't be.

Colonel Jeremiah Waqanisau, the permanent secretary, says there are overstayers in the country but they're being tracked down on an ongoing basis.

Colonel Waqanisau says the allegations are politically motivated with no basis in fact.

"A work or residential permit is not something that is decided by one person only. No, it is not. We have a government-appointed committee comprising of the various related agencies that sits and decides on each application for work permit or residential permit. It's not something that is being dished out by an individual within the immigration department."

The Labour party is calling for an enquiry into what it says are large numbers of recently arrived Chinese nationals.

This follows a spate of crimes, including murders, money laundering, people smuggling, prostitution rackets and illegal gambling which police say involve Chinese nationals.