22 Feb 2005

Court to decide issue of surcharge for Fiji's military commander

9:46 am on 22 February 2005

Military lawyers in Fiji have filed a legal challenge in the High Court against the surcharge imposed on their commander, Commodore Bainimarama, for exceeding his budget in 2003.

Radio Fiji reports that the acting director of the military legal services, Major Kitione Tuinausara, says they aren't disputing the right of the minister of finance, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, to impose a surcharge.

Rather, he says, the only issue in contention is the validity of the reasons given for the surcharge.

Major Tuinausara says there was a shortfall of US$3.6 million in the budget the government allocated to the military.

He says the state allocated money for only 2-thousand, 9-hundred soldiers when the military had a strength of 3-thousand, 4-hundred.

The military lawyer is arguing that it's unreasonable on the part of the government to surcharge Commodore Bainimarama, when the state shortchanged the military.

The case will be heard in the Suva High Court on 9th March.