Fiji’s deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says the Coalition Government is strong, and they remain focused on serving the people of Fiji.

In an interview with the media, Prasad said any differences of opinion between the coalition partners has no bearing on the support to the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government.

When asked about his stand on the gazetted adjustment to allowances and salaries for members of parliament, Prasad said he has said what he had to say in parliament.

Prasad said the Coalition Government is transparent with their operation and has provided absolute freedom to Fijians, as they understand that there are people who are either for or against any decision by government.

He said that they are focused on the formulation of the next national budget.

Prasad said they would like to have a thorough discussion with the different ministries as the Coalition Government has inherited a very high level of debt.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the competing demand for expenditure is important, and the government has set a lot of effort to ensure that they have the appropriate projection in the national budget.

Meanwhile, FijiFirst MP and Opposition Member Jone Usamate says they remain as Members of Parliament until the Speaker decides and informs them otherwise.

This after FijiFirst President Ratu Joji Satakala released a statement highlighting that the 16 members of parliament who voted for the salaries and allowances for MPs, and Alvick Maharaj, who was part of the Emolument Committee did not vote, but now no longer holds a seat in Parliament.

The party reiterated its stance, although it has yet to hear from Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Ratu Joji said notifications were made to all these individuals, and the Speaker last Thursday that 17 members did not follow the party directive, to vote against the motion.

However, Jone Usamate’s statement highlighted that the 17 MPs continued their roles as Members of Parliament and have participated in Parliamentary Standing Committees.

The MPs who voted against the Party directives are Mosese Bulitavu, Sanjay Kirpal, Semi Koroilavesau, Shalen Kumar, Virendra Lal, IoaneNaivalurua, Sachida Nand, Vijay Nath, Viliame Naupoto, Ratu Josaia Niudamu, Penioni Ravunawa, Taito Rokomatu, Inia Seruiratu, Alipate Tuicolo, Naisa Tuinaceva and Jone Usamate.

Only three FijiFirst MPs were among the seven who voted against the salary increase.

They were Faiyaz Koya, Hem Chand, and Premila Kumar. Four MPs had abstained from voting: Joseph Nand, Viam Pillay, Rinesh Sharma and Ketan Lal.