The Honourable Chief Justice, Representatives of Government & Civil Society, Invited Guests, Members of the Public and Friends. It gives me great pleasure to welcome and thank you all for taking your time and effort to be present here today to celebrate with us another milestone in our fight against corruption. The event today is celebrated internationally by all the countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Corruption kills development and it is a hidden crime brought about between two willing partners. We can say that the face of corruption is the product of greed coupled with the opportunity to fulfill the greed. Ladies and gentlemen and members of the public, moving this year’s international anti-corruption day celebration to Labasa is not only a way in which FICAC is trying to reach out to all the people in Fiji, but it is also viewed as a platform to raise awareness on the anti-corruption issues prevalent in the Northern Division. From the cases that have been investigated and prosecuted by FICAC from 2007 till present, it is quite alarming to note that the majority of the cases from the Northern Division, are cases where funds allocated for rural development projects and resources were stolen, misappropriated, abused and mismanaged. These are committed by public officials within government departments and ministries responsible for the coordination, management and supervision of the development projects. To date, 42 people have been convicted by the Courts and there remains, as of today, 61 people that are currently before the Courts.
FICAC will continue to improve and capitalize on its resources, intellect, and manpower to increase its capacity to educate and prevent corruption but at the same time detect, investigate and prosecute those who are found to be engaged in corruption. Having said this, FICAC has a Toll Free Line that Vodafone and Digicel mobile users can call free of charge to report acts of corruption.
I must say that we have gone through many challenges and obstacles but we have remained steadfast because of the determination and perseverance of the staff of FICAC. We will continue to stand and be focused on achieving our vision of ensuring that in time, the people of Fiji will live a life free of corruption.
As we approach our fifth year, we are intensifying our efforts in combating corruption. Therefore, our theme for 2012 is “Intensifying Corruption Intolerance”. With this theme in our minds, there will be no room for my staff to remain complacent nor, there be room to be content with the work we have done so far. By intensifying our efforts, we are encouraging the people of Fiji to come forward willingly without any fear, and support our efforts. It will be through the intolerance of the people of Fiji that will transform our country into a clean and corrupt free nation.
Once again, I thank you all for turning up today
I shall now invite our Chief Guest for the event, the Honourable Chief Justice, Anthony Gates, Sir.