12 Aug 2003

Fiji Labour party submits new proposal to PM over cabinet

5:51 pm on 12 August 2003

The Fiji Labour party has submitted a new proposal to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, on how cabinet portfolios could be shared out.

Labour's vice-president, Krishna Datt, says they've gone ahead with this despite not making any progress in the latest round of talks on the NUMBER of cabinet seats Labour should have.

He says Mr Qarase is continuing to insist that the cabinet be expanded to 36 seats after rejecting Labour's earlier proposals of sharing 22 or 26 posts.

Mr Datt says they've now given the prime minister a proposal on how the 36 posts could be created but they have reservations about this.

"Our position was that we should just share the 22 current ministries that the government has got and we made the point that 36 is not just unwieldy it's ridiculous for a country this size. And if you add to it the six assistant ministers, that takes it to more than half the members of parliament who are holding portfolios and the other 29 or so members as backbenchers. So that is not just unwieldy but ridiculous."

Krishna Datt says they are looking forward to the Supreme court ruling on the number of cabinet seats Labour should be offered and talks can progress from there.

Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry and Mr Qarase are expected to continue their discussions next week.