10 Nov 2006

Dissent within Fiji Labour Party over budget

5:20 pm on 10 November 2006

There appears to be dissension in the Fiji Labour Party over its caucus decision to oppose next year's budget.

The future of the country's multi-party cabinet now hangs in the balance and the Prime Minister has warned Labour cabinet ministers opposing the budget that they could be dismissed.

The caucus decision - which affects all Labour MPs, including the nine cabinet ministers, stems from concern over how it will affect the poor.

But Labour's vice president, Krishna Datt, also a cabinet minister, says he's seeking legal advice before deciding where his allegiance lies.

Mr Datt says he needs to weigh up the benefits of voting against the budget with the advantages of retaining a multi-party system.

And he says he's not worried about possible disciplinary action from the party.

"I said to the caucus that if my views are opposed to the ones that the caucus decides, I will be prepared to face the music."

Labour's leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the government's decision to raise Value Added Tax on all goods and services to 15% will inflict hardship on the poor.