15 Mar 2004

Fiji's NLTB rejects impropriety allegation in IT deal

4:25 pm on 15 March 2004

Fiji's Native Lands Trust Board has rejected allegations of impropriety in the award of a contract to upgrade its Information Technology system to a company based in Tacoma in the United States.

The attorney general in the deposed Labour Party government, Anand Singh, had alleged that the main beneficiary of the contract would be the ruling SDL's fundraising company, Duavata Initiative Limited.

But the NLTB's general manager, Kalovati Baikani, says the board rejects categorically suggestions of political influence by people who have a political agenda.

Mr Bakani says the tender has gone to Pacific Connex, a joint venture between the board's own new company, Vanua Development, and Tacoma-based Tui Consulting, which is owned by a former Fiji resident, Ballu Khan.

Mr Bakani says it is insulting to the president, the prime minister and other leading chiefs on the NLTB board to suggest that they did not follow proper tender procedures.

He says the final tender price was negotiated down to 9.3 million US dollars, about 3.6 million less than the original price.

Mr Bakani accompanied by a senior NLTB official left for Tacoma at the weekend to study an IT upgrade done for the local city administration by Tui Consulting.

All expenses for the trip are being met by the company.