14 Nov 2006

Fiji Labour Party's Vyashnoi falls on sword over budget vote

7:19 pm on 14 November 2006

The Labour Party minister for energy in Fiji's multi-party government has become the first minister from his party to face the sack from the cabinet by declaring in parliament that he will vote against the budget.

Lekh Ram Vyashnoi said he knows he will lose his cabinet portfolio but believes he is taking he right step.

This comes after Fiji's prime minister told Labour Party ministers in his multi-party cabinet that if they vote against the budget, they will face removal from the cabinet.

However Mr Vyashnoi has said he has made his views known to both party leaders and had clearly stated that he would not be sitting on the fence over the budget.

Mr Vyashnoi said the Fiji Labour Party had been voted into parliament on the basis of its manifesto in which they had promised to assist the poor and the underprivileged.

He said he had taken the party's manifesto to his electorate during the election campaign and they had voted him in with over 80% of the valid votes cast.

Mr Vyashnoi said not a single member of his constituency was willing to accept the increase in Value Added Tax and he had no choice but to honor the decision of his people and reject the Budget.

Mr Vyashnoi said while his decision would seal his fate, he still believed that the multi-party government is a noble concept and must be carried on.