14 Nov 2006

Fiji Labour Party leader reportedly turned down offer to be deputy PM

5:55 am on 14 November 2006

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is reported to have turned down an offer to be deputy prime minister and finance minister in the Qarase government.

The Fijilive news website says this has been revealed by the minister for labour and senior party founding member, Krishna Datt.

Mr Datt says Mr Chaudhry revealed Mr Qarase's offer at the party caucus meeting last week.

Mr Datt says Mr Chaudhry told the caucus he had been invited to join the government and "fix" the budget.

Mr Datt says he took it that the discussion was in the context of the Value Added Tax which has jumped by a fifth from 12.5% to 15%.

Both Mr Chaudhry and Mr Qarase have declined to comment on the issue.

But Fijilive quotes another Labour Party insider as saying Mr Chaudhry has not declined the offer and will discuss it with the party's highest decision making body, the FLP delegates conference, in Nadi this Saturday.

Labour Party support is essential for the Qarase government to pass certain Bills dealing with entrenched legislation such as land and the constitution.