23 Aug 2005

Scathing criticism of abuse of public funds in Fiji

8:17 am on 23 August 2005

There's scathing criticism in Fiji of the abuse and mismanagement of tens of millions of dollars in public funds revealed by the auditor general.

The former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says unless the Public Service Commission adopts more realistic punishment for abusers, the rot will just keep getting worse because he says there's no effective deterrent.

Mr Beddoes says transferring people involved in corrupt practice won't kill corruption or theft.

The president of the National Federation Party, Raman Pratap Singh, says not a single parliamentarian from either side of the Lower House has moved a motion to ensure the auditor general's reports are taken seriously.

Mr Singh says because of parliament's inaction, the auditor general has had to lodge reports directly with the police.

The Fiji Labour party says cabinet ministers involved should be surcharged or pay a financial penalty because they've been raiding government coffers.

The Labour spokesman, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, says the rot starts at the very top because the prime minister's been distributing funds as small grants, without any accountability.