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Former auditor-general says 'corruption rife'

Former auditor-general says 'corruption rife'

9 February 2001

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Corruption Rife In Civil Service: Jacobs

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Former Fiji Auditor-General Michael Jacobs has told ABC Radio's national background briefing programme that corruption was rife in the Fiji Civil Service and "if they (civil servants) had an opprtunity to misuse public funds they will do so", the Fiji Sun reports.

He said this "was very strongly evidenced in Fiji".

The programme on Tuesday, produced by ABC reporter Di Martin, included interviews with interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase; former Prime Minister and chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs Sitiveni Rabuka; former judge and Bau high chief Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi; the Lands Minister in the Rabuka government, Ratu Timoci Vesikula; lawyer Imrana Jalal; an unnamed police officer; and Suva lawyyer Jai Ram Bhai.

Jacobs, who was seconded by the Australian government to the Fiji government for three years up to 1997 to help update the Fiji government's auditing system, said "a proper accounting system" for the government had to be put in place together with an adequately qualified staff.

Asked by Ms Martin how much corruption there was in the civil service as opposed to mismanagement or incompetence, Jacobs said: "I think I saw a lot of corruption.

"The corruption in general is pretty low-level in terms of people not carrying out their function unless they were provided with some additional emolument or some sweetener.

"But as well as that there were some fairly substantial corrupt activities by heads of organisations who were responsible for looking after public assets," Jacobs, who lives in Sydney, said.

"That expresses directly in the making of loans to friends or to themselves in circumstances, really when they had no right to do that."

No comments could be obtained yesterday from the Public Service Commission and the Auditor-General, Eroni Vatuloka, who is away overseas.



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