22 Dec 2004

Fiji tax authorities probe ministers travel privileges

11:12 am on 22 December 2004

Tax authorities in Fiji are investigating cabinet ministers and their chief executive officers to determine whether they have abused travel privileges.

The Fiji Times quotes the chief executive of the Revenue and Customs Authority, Sila Kotobalavu, as saying the agency at the centre of a scam, Hunts Travel, has forwarded the names of senior officials involved.

The officials allegedly travelled economy when the state paid for business class travel and pocketed the cash difference.

The scam has been highlighted by the sacking of the chief executive of the labour ministry, Brian Singh, who was found guilty of a similar travel scam.

Mr Kotobalavu says the travel agency has "opened a can of worms" by giving them the names of those who allegedly defrauded the government.

Mr Kotobalavu says if those who were entitled to travel business class flew economy, they would have to pay tax on the difference in airfares.

He says some cabinet ministers and their chief executives have been trying to evade tax and they are under investigation.

Mr Kotobalavu says the Revenue and Customs Authority expects senior government officials to follow the rules.