The FLP Delegates Conference held in Nadi today discussed the activities of the party over the last 12 months with the multi party Cabinet issue dominating talks. The conference was attended by 63 Branch delegates and invited Australian Trade Union and Labour Party officials.
The conference was briefed by the FLP parliamentary leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, on his discussions with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, on the invitation to the FLP to join the Cabinet.
The invitation by the PM was made after the recent Supreme Court ruling requiring him to include the FLP in Cabinet pursuant to section 99(5) of the Fiji constitution. The conference heard from the party leader on the developments since the Supreme Court judgment. Below are the major points of discussion at the conference on the multi party cabinet:
The conference was disappointed with the PM’s intention to increase the cabinet to 36 ministers while retaining 6 assistant ministers. Such a large expansion of cabinet would impose severe financial constraints on an already weak public purse.
The conference noted with concern the PM’s reluctance to negotiate in good faith and to reduce his quota of ministers when including those from minor parties, which did not qualify for cabinet representation under the constitution.
- The conference felt that portfolios offered to the party were secondary and a minor part of already existing substantive ministries. As such these new creations were of little intrinsic value and would place an unnecessary extra financial burden on the taxpayers.
- The conference was disappointed that the proposed ministries would not have its own permanent secretaries and in essence be still controlled by the SDL. It was felt that the proposed allocation was extremely unfair if not insulting and had no respect for the political mandate conferred on the FLP by virtue of it being the second largest party in parliament.
- The conference was of the strong opinion that the PM should implement the Supreme Court judgment within the spirit and intent of the constitution to promote better race relations, national unity and power sharing amongst the various communities.
- The delegates expressed regret at the apparent reluctance on the part of the PM to negotiate in good faith as evidenced by the allocation of proposed portfolios to the FLP.
- The conference mandated the Party Leader to further engage the PM in good faith negotiations and discussions on this critical issue, of immense importance to the progress of the nation.