30 Jul 2004

Fiji's Qarase denies approaching Labour MPs over cabinet

8:33 am on 30 July 2004

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has denied allegations that he has approached Labour Party MPs individually to join his multi-party cabinet.

Radio Legend says the allegations have been made by the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, who says he wants to raise the issue in his next meeting with the prime minister.

It follows a statement in parliament yesterday by Labour MP Ram Sharan who said he'd reject the arts, culture and heritage portfolio unless it was offered after consultations with his leader.

Mr Sharan also described the portfolio as insignificant.

But Mr Qarase told Radio Legend this morning that it's "not true" that he "approached individual members of the Labour Party."

He says his offer went through Mr Chaudhry.

On the portfolios being insignificant, Mr Qarase says it's like a business which has to be grown from small beginnings.

He says it's the same with ministries and it's up to the minister to build it up through his own efforts and through the co-operation of other members of the cabinet.

Mr Qarase says "it's a huge challenge to individual ministers to expand the role of their ministries and ensure that the right services are provided."