13 May 2003

Fiji party attacks government over party fundraiser company

9:20 am on 13 May 2003

The Fiji Democratic Party has attacked the Qarase government, saying it is devoid of conscience and has discarded all sense of balance, decency and fairness in order to remain in power.

The Democrats' leader, Filipe Bole, made the comment while criticising the formation of a company in which the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and four senior cabinet ministers have been named as shareholders and directors.

Mr Qarase has defended Duavata Initiative Limited, saying it is meant to fundraise for the ruling SDL party by providing it with ongoing income support.

But Mr Bole says registration of the company is tantamount to overt bribery and corruption of the first magnitude.

He has questioned how decent and honest people would stand up to such a high level onslaught for funds.

Mr Bole says the government leadership does not seem able to see the conflict of interest between its official and private capacities.

The National Federation Party says the government will find it difficult to introduce policies free from outside influences.

NFP President, Prem Singh, says large donors who contribute to the company will want something in return.

He says the Qarase administration is now vulnerable to large donors seeking political favours.

Mr Singh says laws must be introduced to stop the possibility of large donors seeking favours from the government in return for their handouts to the company.

"The initiatives by the government will lead to corrupt practices...we are very much worried that the Government's payback system is being institutionalised..we are trying to force the Government to have legislation whereby the political parties can have a limit to what people can give, and a code of conduct bill also needs to be implemented"