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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 7, 1999 – Fiji Times)---Six government ministers including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry will attend overseas meetings this month.

And while the Opposition has criticized the absence of so many ministers in a single month, it has been learned that overseas travel have been refused for as many as seven others.

Mr. Chaudhry is known to have specifically refused applications from Women and Culture Minister Lavinia Padarath and Assistant Housing Minister John Ali.

At least three of this month’s ministers’ trips are paid by host organizations.

Works Minister Shiu Sharan Sharna left on Saturday and will be in Rome until Wednesday at a World Bank sponsored meeting on infrastructure development.

Mr. Sharma will then fly to Sydney to meet his Australian counterpart before returning on September 14. He is accompanied by Deputy Secretary Buetasau Buatoka.

Attorney-General Anand Singh and his wife left for China on Saturday to attend a conference for prosecutors.

Mr. Singh will be away for two weeks. From China, he will visit Hong Kong and Australia and have meetings with officials on corruption matters.

He is accompanied by Deputy Director for Public Prosecutions, Kenneth Wilkinson.

Sports Minister Ponipate Leasavua and his Permanent Secretary, Fusi Vave, flew to London on Sunday to attend a meeting of Commonwealth youth ministers.

Mr. Chaudhry is expected to leave for Swaziland on Thursday for the African Caribbean Pacific Ministers meeting on sugar. Accompanied by his Private Secretary Rajendra Chaudhry and Permanent Secretary Brian Singh, he will then travel to New York to address a meeting of the United Nations.

On his return towards the end of the month, he will spend a week in Fiji before flying on to Palau for the South Pacific Forum leaders’ meeting.

Tourism Minister Adi Koila Nailatikau leaves for Korea this week, to attend the three-day International Travel Expo, beginning on Saturday.

Health Minister Isimeli Cokanasiga leaves for Macao towards the end of the week, to attend the World Health Organization Regional Committee Meeting.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times).

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