Editorial

Alleged Transport Assistance Scam Shows Those Implicated Have No Heart

This is a serious issue and no doubt investigations will eventually uncover the allegedly fraudulent activities of a selfish few at the expense of those this scheme was introduced for.
22 Oct 2020 13:29
Alleged Transport Assistance Scam Shows Those Implicated Have No Heart

It is worrying that during this crisis there are people allegedly involved in a school children transport scam.

Those implicated include a Sigatoka businessman, Ministry of Education senior staff and Land Transport Authority personnel. It is alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars were taken from the Government.

This is a serious issue and no doubt investigations will eventually uncover the allegedly fraudulent activities of a selfish few at the expense of those this scheme was introduced for.

Those affected are the ordinary people, mostly from the lower socio-economic group. At a time when many people have opened their hearts to the needy and the poor hit hard by the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the alleged action of a few is a shame and disgraceful.

Members of this small group have allowed greed to dictate their conscience at a time when many Fijians are suffering and needing help.

In doing so they have deprived those who actually are entitled to benefit from the transport assistance and it is abhorrent and unacceptable.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating the alleged falsified claims according to Minister for Education Rosy Akbar.

It is alleged that the businessman colluded with the Ministry of Education staff in Sigatoka and a very senior staff in Suva.

He allegedly provided transport to children via the transport voucher system and received payments for falsified claims from the Ministry of Education.

Ministry of staff were allegedly bribed by the businessman and the alleged falsified payment was shared among those involved.

Some members of LTA were allegedly linked to this scam.

Transport vouchers were mostly used to provide transport assistance before the electronic ticketing or e-ticketing system came into place.

However, in large rural areas where children travel by the RSL carriers, the vouchers are still used.

We are talking about public funds here which at the moment we do not have much of. They come from Government revenue collected via tax paid by workers and businesses.

High unemployment and a slump in business because of COVID-19 mean that the tax collected has dropped significantly affecting Government services. We are fortunate, however, that the Government has not cut transport assistance to school children.

The group in question has no heart in ignoring the difficult situation we are facing and allegedly deciding to manipulate the system for their own advantage.

The sooner it is investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice the better it will be for the people who may have been affected.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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