17 Jun 2004

Fiji military seeks more money to cover budget blow-out

10:59 am on 17 June 2004

Fiji's military is seeking another 12-million US dollars to cover salary arrears, the cost of employing soldiers during Cyclone Ami, and deployment of troops in Solomon Islands and East Timor.

Of the 12-million, 3-million US is for the upgrade of weapons.

The Fiji Times reports that the finance minister is seeking parliamentary approval for a total of 29-million US dollars for the military and other arms of the government.

Part of the reason for the military's cost overrun is that it is overstaffed by 333 soldiers.

The military budget was reduced this year but the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, refused to demobilise the 333 troops because the government made no provision for redundancy payments.

The Fiji Labour Party is highly critical of the over-expenditure by the military, the President's Office and other arms of the government.