13 Feb 2004

A planned mining study by Fiji Senators condemned

4:55 pm on 13 February 2004

There's strong criticism in Fiji of a committee of Senators who plan to visit Canada and Papua New Guinea to study mining operations.

The Upper House formed the committee to study gold mining at Vatukoula and the working conditions of miners.

But the committee, headed by Senator Asesela Ravuvu, has decided to go to the World Mining Forum in Toronto, Canada and to Papua New Guinea.

The trip will cost taxpayers huge sums of money in business class air travel, accomodation, meals and daily allowances.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the committee has not yet been to Vatukoula and his party could not support the overseas tour.

Labour MP Pratap Chand says there's no need to waste public funds on an overseas junket because the committee can seek technical help locally.

In an editorial, the Fiji Sun newspaper says the Senate committee's excuse is particularly far fetched, even by MP's standards.

It says the costly jaunt will deliver next to nothing in benefits to the public.

The Sun says for a fraction of the cost, the Senators should be given a crash course in the use of the Internet, which is packed with information about mining in Canada, Papua New Guinea and many other countries.

The newspaper says the committee could use some of the savings to fund a trip to inspect the mining industry within Fiji.