12 Sep 2005

Fiji Labour party calls for tighter regulations on ministers' spending

3:18 pm on 12 September 2005

The Fiji Labour party is calling on the government to tighten up regulations after a former minister was acquitted of defrauding the state and obtaining money by false pretences.

Senator Anand Singh says the party supports the rule of law but it has concerns that there are too many loopholes after George Shiu Raj, the former minister of multi-ethnic affairs, was found not guilty.

Mr Raj had been charged after cashing in his business class travel to India, flying economy class, and pocketing the difference.

Mr Singh, who is a former Attorney General, says Mr Raj got off on a technicality and this needs to change.

"What the judge said was that there was inadequate regulations as regards this. But, we think that common sense ought to prevail. When the ministers start using the funds in the manner that has been used, it's setting a very bad example to the rest of the community, and particularly the public servants."

Anand Singh.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Director of Public Prosecutions, says a decision will be made on whether to appeal the ruling, once a written version of it is available.

And, the Solicitor General, Nainendra Nand, says if the DPP's office doesn't appeal, his office will look to see what changes will need to be introduced as far as the travel of senior officials is concerned.