13 Dec 2006

Fiji caretaker PM vows to reduce cost of government

11:19 am on 13 December 2006

Fiji's military appointed caretaker prime minister, Dr Jona Senilagakali, has vowed to reduce the cost of government.

Dr Senilagakali has called on state chief executives to reduce the number of government ministries and departments from 62 to 50 and slash other costs proportionately.

For himself, Dr Senilagakali says he will take a pay cut from just over 63-thousand US dollars to 43-thousand.

As well, he has foregone all benefits he and his family would be entitled to as part of the prime minister's job.

Dr Senilagakali says he will continue living in his own home and will not accept any housing allowance.

His actions are in sharp contrast with members of the deposed government, 26 of whom took their state-owned vehicles and forced the Land Transport Authority to register them as private vehicles so they could continue using them.

The military has recovered 8 of those vehicles and ordered the rest to surrender them or face a crackdown.

Meanwhile, in a surprise development, Fiji TV has reported that one of the figures in the deposed government most bitterly criticized by the military, the attorney general Qoriniasi Bale, has been providing legal advice to the army.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, has confirmed that Mr Bale has been at the barracks talking to senior officers.