22 Nov 2002

Fiji freezes public service employment

12:43 pm on 22 November 2002

The Fiji government has placed a temporary freeze on all new appointments in the public service.

Radio Fiji says the cabinet made the decision this week at the request of the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

The prime minister told the cabinet it was necessary to control operating costs, particularly the government's salaries and wages bill.

Almost eighty per cent of Fiji's 2003 budget will be used to pay the government's operating costs of which more than half will be salaries and wages.

Mr Qarase told the cabinet that if all positions which were vacant in August this year were to be filled next year, it would cost another 13 million US dollars.

If new posts were approved by the government, they would need another 30 million US dollars.

Mr Qarase says it was necessary to take decisive action.