8 Aug 2002

Election possible in Niue after Minister and Government fails to pass Budget

6:17 pm on 8 August 2002

Niue could be facing a constitutional crisis after a controversial budget failed to pass today and the Deputy Premier was sacked from Cabinet.

Niue is facing a huge deficit and the Budget, already delayed a month, contains cuts to child allowances, means tests for the pension, and cuts to grants for village councils and churches.

One of those to vote against it was former Premier, and until this morning current Deputy, Sani Lakatani, whose previous administration was severely criticised for its lack of financial controls by the Finance Minister Toke Talagi, as he was tabling the Budget. .

The Premier Young Vivian says he called Mr Lakatani soon after the vote, told him he was a naughty boy and told him he had voted himself out of a job.

"I thought that he was with me and that we had been getting along well and I had brought him to cabinet despite some very very strong opposition. I didn't have any inkling about this until we had the vote on the first reading"

Young Vivian says he believes they will be able to successfully pass the Budget once four MPs currently overseas return, but this has to be achieved by next Monday(Niue time) to satisfy constitutional requirements. .

Meanwhile the Opposition says Young Vivian should resign, while the Premier says a new election is a possibility he is considering.