11 Oct 2005

Fiji Labour party alleges new vote-buying scam in agriculture ministry

11:31 am on 11 October 2005

The Fiji Labour Party says the Qarase government has started a new vote buying scam through the ministry of agriculture.

The allegation comes just days after a former agriculture ministry official was jailed for his part in the multi-million dollar farming assistance scam in 2001.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he has been informed by a very concerned employee of the ministry that officials are engaged in handing out timber and corrugated iron sheets to hundreds of villages in Tailevu, Naitasiri, Sawani and Rewa.

Mr Chaudhry says the materials have been delivered under the guise of assistance to set up piggery and poultry farms but have gone towards building homes.

He says such actions are tantamount to bribery ahead of the next general elections and are illegal under the law.

Mr Chaudhry says he will be writing to the Electoral Commission, the commissioner of police and the auditor general to investigate and take action.

The agriculture minister, Ilaitia Tuisese, has told the Daily Post newspaper the allegations are nonsense but he declined to comment further, saying there was no need to say anything.