1 Oct 2004

Fiji's only ethnic Indian cabinet minister quits

2:22 pm on 1 October 2004

Fiji's only ethnic Indian cabinet minister has resigned following allegations he has defrauded the state.

The Ethnic Affairs Minister George Shiu Raj is accused of misusing government money during a trip to India last year.

Mr Shiu Raj had been under pressure since the Auditor-General's Office claimed this week he had pocketed money meant for travel while taking a delegation to a meeting for overseas Indians in New Delhi.

The Ethnic Affairs ministry has confirmed the minister voluntarily tendered his resignation this morning after meeting the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Mr Qarase says he's accepted Mr Shiu Raj's resignation but he's told reporters that he feels sorry for him, describing Mr Shiu Raj as one of his most effective ministers.

Meanwhile, the Labour Ministry has confirmed that its chief executive, Brian Singh has been suspended from his position while Police investigate allegations he also overspent state funds for travel.