20 Oct 2003

Ministers and officials strongly criticised by Fiji's Auditor General

4:16 pm on 20 October 2003

Fiji's auditor general has criticized cabinet ministers and senior public servants over the misappropriation of public funds.

Eroni Vatuleka has told the Minister of Multi-Ethnic Affairs, George Shiu Raj, to strictly comply with scholarship procedures and verify information provided by applicants.

Mr Vatuleka says mobile phone bills run up by the Minister for Works, Col Savenaca Draunidalo and his permanent secretary, Anasa Vocea, totalling 24-thousand US dollars are excessive and there appears to be no control on expenditure.

He also says the Minister for Regional Development, Ilaitia Tuisese has been told to stop funding self-help projects that haven't been approved by the Finance Ministry.

The audit report reveals that approved self help projects for last year were not funded while funding was provided for projects not approved.

Mr Vatuleka has also described a tender awarded to a local hardware company, Vinod Patel, over a lower tender offered by a New Zealand company, Tyco Water, as being made under devious circumstances.

The auditor general has also expressed concern that an official implicated in the 13-million US dollar agriculture ministry scam, Eparama Wakolo is still working in the ministry despite a police request for his immediate removal.