7 Mar 2007

Fiji finance ministry clarifies budget allocation

4:51 pm on 7 March 2007

Fiji's finance ministry has published a statement correcting what it describes as the half truths and misinformation published by some media outlets about the revised budget presented last Friday.

The media reports have alleged that there have been massive reductions in the budgets of the ministry of Fijian affairs and the education ministry.

In his statement, the acting head of the finance ministry, Aisake Taito, says the reductions in the budgets of the two ministries were due entirely to the re-organisation of government agencies.

Mr Taito says in the previous budget, the Fijian affairs budget also included Provincial Development and the Lands Department.

The Lands Department is now a ministry of its own and no longer part of budget allocation for Fijian affairs.

Likewise Mr Taito says the Department of Youth and Sport is now no longer part of the education ministry, causing the latter's budget to go down.

Mr Taito says that all major allocations for indigenous Fijian development such as scholarships, development assistance schemes and grants to provincial councils remain intact.

He says similarly important provisions in the education ministry such as tuition free assistance, per capita grants, remission of fees, fee-free education and building grants have been maintained.

Mr Taito says as disseminators of public information, news agencies ought to develop professionalism to ensure the validity of their reports and avoid sensationalizing issues during such critical times.