12 May 2005

Fiji PM orders inquiry into Kuwait job scheme

10:29 am on 12 May 2005

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has ordered an inquiry into why thousands of Fijians who had been promised employment in Kuwait are still without jobs.

The inquiry follows a report to cabinet on the labour minister Kenneth Zinck's recent fact finding visit to Kuwait.

15,000 Fijians had paid 90-US dollars each or a total of nearly 1.4 million US dollars to the recruiting company, Meridian Services headed by Timoci Lolohea, and many had resigned from their jobs to prepare to go to Kuwait.

Mr Zinck says this is matter which needs urgent attention and he had raised his concerns with Meridian Services and its principal, the Public Warehousing Company, in Kuwait.

He says he was told by a senior Public Warehousing official, Nasser Obed, that only 1,500 to 2,000 Fijians would be required to work in the next two years.

The minister is also concerned that 200 Fiji nationals who have been in Kuwait since last year are still without jobs.

Meanwhile, Mr Qarase has urged Mr Lolohea to make good on his promises to the men who had paid but are yet to leave for Kuwait.

The Fiji Times says Mr Lolohea has been overseas for several months with no one at his office or home disclosing his whereabouts.