22 Jul 2004

Fiji shipping firm says paying off companies

11:50 am on 22 July 2004

A leading Fiji shipping company operator has accused the government of using taxpayers' money to make political payoffs.

The Fiji Times reports that Justin Smith's criticism is over government subsidies paid to shipping companies owned by indigenous provincial councils.

The government has a policy of subsidising services on uneconomic outer island routes under its shipping franchise scheme.

But Mr Smith says private companies with proven track records and cheap tenders have not been considered despite being capable operators.