13 Jan 2004

Fiji's SVT opposes army redundancies

6:17 am on 13 January 2004

The Fijian Political Party, the SVT, has strongly opposed the government's directive to the army to make 300 soldiers redundant.

The directive follows a reduction in the army's budget for this year, instead of an increase as requested by the military.

The 300 redundancies will take the army's strength down to 3000.

The SVT's spokesperson, Ema Druavesi, has told Radio Fiji, that it's not good to make so many soldiers redundant, when their families are dependent on them.

Mrs Druavesi says the lay-offs will be contrary to the government's policies to create employment and provide affirmative action for indigenous Fijians who comprise almost the entire strength of the military.

But the opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says downsizing the army is a prudent measure, given Fiji's economic constraints, and should be replicated in other sectors of the public service.