1 Oct 2004

Fiji's only ethnic Indian Cabinet Minister quits, PM to take on portfolio

4:06 pm on 1 October 2004

Fiji's Prime Minister will take on the Ethnic Affairs portfolio following the resignation of the country's only ethnic Indian cabinet minister.

George Shiu Raj resigned as Ethnic Affairs minister today amid allegations he has defrauded the state by misusing public funds during a trip to India last year.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has announced he will take on the portfolio until investigations into the allegations are complete.

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 in New Delhi.

Mr Shui Raj, who tendered his resignation to Mr Qarase this morning, says it was the honourable thing to do in his position.

"I have told that's I'm very transparent, I'm very accountable. There's no misuse of taxpayers money. I have voluntarily resigned myself as a minister, on the allegations that are on me. And as soon as the allegations are finished, I will be found not guilty, definitely. That is the way for an honourable person to do."

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