FIJI'S LABOR OPPOSITION SAYS IT WILL STOP PRIVATIZATION IF IN POWER

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 23, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Fiji's opposition Labor Party says it will stop the privatization of publicly owned enterprises if it wins the next election.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Richard Dinnen reports the Labor Party has accused the government of selling public assets to repay debts.

"The Fiji Government intends to sell at least seven state-owned enterprises, including electricity, telecommunications, and the National Bank of Fiji.

"The Labor Party says the government has no mandate to sell them and would use the proceeds to pay its growing debt, estimated at US$ 750 million.

"Labor leader Mahendra Chaudhry says that is as silly as selling your house to pay the mortgage.

"Mr. Chaudhry says if Labor wins the election due to be held in March it will stop the privatization program. He says Labor would re-acquire any state assets sold by the present government, even if it has to legislate to do so.

"Labor is unlikely to win the election in its own right, but could form a coalition government with the help of the Fijian Association Party and the Party of National Unity."

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