21 Jun 2002

Fiji government rejects claims it abused farming assistance scheme

10:32 am on 21 June 2002

Earlier the government defended itself against claims in the writ that the prime minister and many of his former interim cabinet ministers used the scheme to buy votes.

The Fiji Times quotes the secretary of the prime minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, as saying the scheme was introduced and operated with noble intentions.

Mr Kotobalavu says Mr Kunatuba's writ is trying to divert attention from the 66 charges laid against him by the public service commission.

He says Mr Kunatuba should explain why he abused his authority as the principal accounting officer of the agriculture ministry in contravention of government rules and regulations.

Mr Kotobalavu says Mr Qarase has already told parliament there was nothing wrong with the scheme which was aimed at helping rural people increase their food production and income security.

He says the only thing that went wrong was its management by officers led by Mr Kunatuba.