Nine Fiji Labour Party MPs were sworn in today as Cabinet Ministers in a power sharing arrangement mandated by Section 99 of the Fiji Constitution.
The move for the FLP to join the government has been hailed by people all over the country and outside and from all walks of life.
This time around, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase honoured the power-sharing provisions of the 1997 Constitution by extending an invitation to Labour to join in, offering the Party fairly substantive portfolios.
There was a minor setback earlier when Qarase reshuffled the names nominated by Mr Chaudhry as Party Leader, particularly moving Poseci Bune as Minister for Agriculture to head the Environment Ministry.
He also moved unionist Felix Anthony from Minister for Labour to Minister for Employment Opportunities and Productivity, and Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi from Minister for Local Government and Urban Development to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
However, despite the changes the Labour Party caucus agreed on Tuesday that, in the national interest, the multi-party Cabinet should be given a chance. Felix Anthony declined to accept the invitation.
Labour has, however, reacted strongly to Qarase’s appointment of a bloated Cabinet of 24 as well as 12 Ministers of State. The media has also questioned this move because of the unnecessary deployment of tax payers’ funds needed to support such a large Cabinet as well as the fact that the Cabinet is at least half the size of the House of Representatives.
Chaudhry labelled the move both “irresponsible” and “ridiculous”.
The swearing in ceremony today of the nine Labour Ministers was attended by both Laisenia Qarase and Mr. Chaudhry who himself has decided to remain in the Opposition.
The names and portfolios are as follows:
- Poseci Bune – Minister for Environment
- Krishna Datt – Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations
- Gyani Nand – Minister for Agriculture
- Dr Gunasagran Gounder – Minister for Health for Curative Services
- Udit Narayan – Minister for Health for Primary and Preventive Services
- Adi Sivia Qoro – Minister for Commerce and Industry
- Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi – Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources
- Ragho Nand – Minister for Employment Opportunities and Productivity
- Chaitanya Lakshman – Minister for Local Government and Urban Development