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Source says property is worth much more

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 2, 2009) – The property for the planned Fiji Chancery in New Delhi, India, will cost the interim Government $8 million [US$4.5 million].

This came to light after the Public Service Commission sent a circular to all ministries and departments on Monday to reduce operating budgets by 50 per cent immediately as part of cost-cutting strategies. A reliable source, who preferred annoymity, said the property was being given at a "good price when land is getting expensive and space is getting scarce in New Delhi right now".

"It is believed that the land, after valuation, was at $23 million [US$13 million] but the Indian Government has given us a discount and willing to sell it at $8 million."

The source said the offer would be discussed soon by the interim Government.

Yesterday, interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama returned from his five-day visit to India with his wife, Mary, Public Service Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand and personal staff officer Captain Aseri Rokoura.

Last week, the team left on an Indian Government-sponsored trip to inspect a New Delhi hospital and to finalise a property for the Fiji chancery. At the moment, there is a High Commission in New Delhi that is looked after by High Commissioner Savenaca Kaunisela.

The office occupied by the High Commission is being rented by the Government.

Acting Foreign Affairs permanent secretary and Roving Ambassador Ross Ligairi referred all queries on the issue to Mr Chand who will start officially as PS PSC today.

Mr. Bainimarama said his visit also included a courtesy call on him by Mr. N. Ravi, Secretary for External Affairs (East) for the Government of India.

"We also pursued discussions with relevant authorities to further progress the acquisition of a prime piece of vacant land made available by the Government of India for construction of a Fiji Chancery in the heart of New Delhi."

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