Labour is alarmed at revelations of another vote buying tactic by the SDL government in the lead up to the 2006 general elections, similar to the agricultural scam of 2001.
Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said he was informed by an employee of the Agricultural Ministry that government was handing out timber and corrugated iron sheets to hundreds of villages in Tailevu, Naitasiri, Sawani, Rewa and in the Western division under the guise of assistance to set up piggery and poultry farms.
The scheme has been in operation since June this year. So far hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of material have been handed out and Chaudhry warned that this could run into millions, if unchecked.
Proper civil service regulations and procedures were not followed in the issue of these materials nor were they given out in response to applications from villages.
“I have been reliably informed that most of the items supplied have not been used for the purpose of assisting poultry and piggery farmers but have been used to build homes.
“This is clearly an election ploy by the Qarase government to buy votes using handouts. It is in breach of the Electoral Act s 130 which prohibits the soliciting of votes in exchange for electoral patronage,” Chaudhry said.
The handouts are tantamount to bribery and FLP will be lodging complaints with the Police and the Elections Office.
Attempts by the Auditor General’s office to investigate the matter was thwarted by the government.