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Finance CEO stays away from military

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fiji's finance chief executive officer Paula Uluinaceva was no where to be seen yesterday as officers of his ministry operated at skeleton level following an armed military search of the premises over the last two days.

And while attempts to reach him for comment yesterday were futile, it was established that he vacated his residence last week.

State Minister for National Planning Jone Navakamocea said he had no idea where his CEO was.

"We've advised him to keep moving around and not stay in one place," Mr Navakamocea said.

He refused to explain reasons behind Mr Uluinaceva's absence but it is believed this stemmed from his directive to the civil service to suspend certain powers to CEOs.

Mr Navakamocea said he was still in office because he had done nothing wrong.

"They (the military) can't touch me. The Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo have not sacked me and as far as we know the Constitution has not been abrogated," he said.

He said staff members of the ministry were told to take outstanding leave in light of the military's hunt for Mr Uluinaceva.

Public Service Commission CEO Anare Jale had said he would not turn up to work following media reports that the military had sacked him.

However, he said yesterday afternoon he was at work. He would not comment further.

Most ministries recorded a full turn out at work and thanked their staff for making an effort to come to work in light of the circumstances.

One CEO who did not wish to be named aired his concerns over the military's activities and said that a time would come where imports would be suspended and negotiations between governments would be necessary.

The CEO questioned what measures the military would take in such a situation given the sanctions that had been slapped on the country by its foreign partners.

"I will be useful then for negotiations when there's no food and fuel to move around but I'd hate for that to be interpreted as me being a supporter of the military government," the CEO said.

In another development, a personal assistant for the ousted Prime Minister was ordered to stay away from her office yesterday as the interim Prime Minister took over the reigns yesterday.

Staff at the Prime Minister's office confirmed that the secretary was told by the military not to enter her office, but there were no reasons given.

CEO for Public Enterprises Parmesh Chand said it was for the "powers beyond" to comment on the absence of ministers of the Qarase Government.

Meanwhile, Parliament staff members were given an option, to be deployed to other government ministries and departments.

This came as Secretary to the House of Representatives Edward Blakelock waited for documents "in black and white" which announced the dissolution of Parliament.

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