2 May 2003

Fiji parliament spends on cyclone victims, comes under fire for budget request

3:49 pm on 2 May 2003

Fiji's parliament has passed a supplementary budget allowing the government to spend an extra 15-million US dollars this year on rehabilitation work for victims of Cyclone Ami.

But the government's request for an extra 330-thousand dollars for Fiji's embassy in Beijing and 150-thousand dollars for the South Pacific Games came under strong opposition from critics.

Labour Party MP, Krishna Dutt, accused the government of preparing a deceitful 2003 budget if it could not predict the expenses of the Beijing embassy.

Mr Dutt rejected the finance minister Ratu Jone Kubuabola's explanation that officials could not agree on the operating expenses when the budget was prepared.

Another Labour MP, Poseci Bune, asked the prime minister to place stringent controls on the overseas travels of foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola.

Mr Qarase defended overseas travel by ministers and public servants, saying all trips were of us to the nation.