10 Nov 2006

Fiji Labour MPs to vote against the government's 2007 budget

8:43 am on 10 November 2006

The future of Fiji's multi-party cabinet hangs in the balance following the unanimous decision of the Labour Party caucus to vote against the 2007 budget tabled in parliament last Friday.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the caucus decided that all party MPs, including the nine ministers in the cabinet, must vote against the budget.

Mr Chaudhry says the poor would pay a very high price for the government's continued extravagance and increasing Value Added Tax on all goods and services to 15% was not only exorbitant but totally immoral and insensitive.

He says it will inflict untold hardship on poor families and seriously curtail their ability to buy basic household goods.

Mr Chaudhry says the people who voted for their MPs do not want the budget and all their MPs in parliament, whether they are cabinet ministers or not, are bound by the decision of the caucus.

The assistant general secretary of the Labour Party, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, who is himself a cabinet minister, says MPs who do not follow party directives will face disciplinary action.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, said earlier that he expects all Labour cabinet ministers to vote for the budget.