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We Won't Sell Paper Shares: Minister

* See Cafe Pacific item: http://www.asiapac.org.fj/cafepacific/resources/aspac/post4.html *Photo

SUVA: The Fiji Islands government won't sell its stake in the Daily Post newspaper, Assistant Information Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi said yesterday, the Fiji Times reports.

Vayeshnoi said the [Labour Party-led] government would continue with its plans to strengthen the newspaper.

He said media reports on possible sale of the government's 44 percent stake to another newspaper [Fiji Sun] were rubbish.

"Our initial plan is to assist in bringing the newspaper up and recover the investment made by the previous government," he said.

"We don't intend to sell our shares."

The government also owns unit Trust of Fiji, which has 23 percent stake in the newspaper.

Vayeshnoi said the government was in the process of appointing its two representatives on the Daily Post board.

The four-member board is chaired by Colonial representative Tomasi Vuetilovoni.

Unit Trust is represented on the Daily Post board by its former chairman Lionel Yee.

Yee was dropped from the Unit Trust board and is likely to leave the newspaper board.

Last month, the government complained to the Daily Post board about the the appointment of its new general manager, Ranjit Singh.

According to media reports, the fledgling Fiji Sun newspaper has approached the government to buy off its 44 percent shares in the Daily Post.

Vayeshnoi said the government had plans for the Daily Post and would not sell its shares.

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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