Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Interim PM's trips under fire

Interim PM's trips under fire
Tuesday, August 05, 2008

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Permanent secretary in the PMs Office Parmesh Chand with Commodore Bainimarama
THE interim Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has come under attack by political parties for overseas trips he has made.

The Prime Minister's permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand, said Commodore Bainimarama received an invitation from China to attend the Olympics. This will be his sixth trip abroad this year.

Ousted opposition leader Mick Beddoes said senior civil servants should officiate on behalf of the State because members of the regime do not represent the people.

"Until the country has a representative government in place, interim ministers of a military junta should not be attending any overseas engagements, where representation of the country is required because they do not directly represent the people," he said. "A top civil servant should be dispatched to officiate on behalf of the government instead."

Mr Beddoes said travelling abroad and attending various engagements was a normal part of running a government as far as an elected executive was concerned.

"However, participating in these engagements when you know full well that you hold the position as a result of an act of treason and you do not represent the interest of the people of the country on whose behalf you are attending the engagement is for me questionable," he said.

National Federation Party spokesman Pramod Rae said the party would not waste its time commenting on Commodore Bainimarama's trips.

Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party spokesman Peceli Kinivuwai said six trips in seven months demonstrated Commodore Bainimarama's leadership style.

"He has no regard whatsoever for the welfare of the people of this country, who have lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts and are struggling," he said.

"Him having the audacity to do those six trips in the last seven months goes to show that the actions he took (coup) was to benefit himself. He promoted his men and allowed himself to be paid leave for the last 30 years."

The Prime Minister's Office, in a statement, accused The Fiji Times of trying to "sensationalise the duty travel taken by the Prime Minister".

"Essentially, you are trying to create a perception that the Prime Minister's duty travel is too frequent and excessive," Mr Chand said. "You have on the other hand not attempted to highlight or analyse the background and importance of these trips and benefits therefrom in national interest."

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