National Federation Party President Parmod Chand says being part of a multiracial coalition government that believes in kindness, compassion and care, is the way forward for Fiji.
While speaking at the NFP Working Committee at Sangam Village in Lovu, Lautoka, Chand says those who believe in self-interest or self-enrichment have no place in the NFP.
He says an abundance of this unholy principle was on display three days ago in parliament by the FijiFirst parliamentary opposition, which didn’t like overseas travel allowances of office holders and MPs being severely slashed.
He adds the three senior MPs of Fiji First who spoke following the moving of the Motion by the Prime Minister made all sorts of ridiculous excuses of why it wasn’t right to reduce the allowances that they raised more than 7 years ago.
The Party President says this is from a party that burdened Fiji with a national debt of $10 billion and promulgated a Decree three days before the first sitting of parliament in October 2014 to fix astronomically high salaries.
He says this is from a party that used an accounting firm to process salaries of Ministers of an un-elected government for almost 4 years and that un-elected government later became FijiFirst.
Chand says this is from a party that short-changed cane growers $13.870 million in cane payments by reneging on its promised $85 per tonne as the price of sugarcane for 3 seasons.
He adds that the list is endless, but so much for hypocrisy and hogwash.
Chand says the National Federation Party fully supports the party’s caucus to be part of our Coalition Government and like any government, the current administration will stumble and make mistakes.
He says to err is human, and they acknowledge the few mistakes made in the last 11 months, but these pale into insignificance when one looks at the giant strides made towards making and upholding our nation as genuinely democratic.
He further says they are no longer at a critical crossroads, they are not faint-hearted, and they believe in genuine dignity, equality and respect for all our people.
The President also commended the great work of its members who are part of the coalition government in moving the country forward.
Chand acknowledged the leadership of former Party President and Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua from June 2017 until August this year.
He says Tikoduadua became the party president at a critical time, and both he and the Party Leader led the struggle to sink the Bismarck, as their former President used to say, in reference to defeating FijiFirst, which many thought was invincible.
He further says we must all salute his courage and principles in quitting his Cabinet role in the post-2014 election FijiFirst government after only 9 months, where he chose farming over serving a two-men rule and enjoying a $200,000 per annum salary as a Minister.
Chand adds Tikoduadua returned to parliament as an Opposition MP after the November 2018 elections and yet again demonstrated his principled and ethical stand in accepting a 6-month suspension instead of apologising for something he did not say in the aftermath of his assault by the then Prime Minister.
The Party President also adds that this is the hallmark of the man who has been entrusted probably the 3rd most important portfolio in Cabinet, and despite all the pressure, Tikoduadua is brilliantly performing his ministerial responsibilities as Home Affairs Minister.
Chand also thanked the former Party Vice-President Lenora Qereqeretabua for relinquishing their party roles to maintain transparency and accountability.
He says their gratitude also goes towards Kiniviliame Salabogi and Seni Nabou for giving up their roles as Vice-President and General Secretary respectively, following appointments that designate them as public officers.
Chand says while it has been a loss for the party, it is a win for transparency, accountability and good governance, and they know of many cases where the definition of public officer was flouted in the past.
He says Salabogi was the party’s anchor in Ra for 4 years, and Nabou has been with the party since 2014.
The Party President says Nabou’s integrity and loyalty to the party and its principles has been exemplary and she demonstrated her able leadership as general secretary, and her unwavering stance during critical times has been most admirable.
He adds it is now time to look ahead, and they have to build on the foundation laid by remarkable individuals who have always put national interest above everything else.
Chand also acknowledged the work of the Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection, Sashi Kiran, who knows her role and has performed exceptionally well.
He says during the last sitting of Parliament that ended on Friday, Kiran shut the Opposition with both her calmness and expertise to use facts to put the government’s critics to shame.
He also says that she was also given the all-important role of moving the Motion to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by the Prime Minister – and she came out with flying colours.
The Party President also acknowledged the work of former trade unionist and Minister for Employment Agni Deo Singh, who has been involved with the Government, employers and unions to ensure that the workers once again enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms has been superb in the past 11 months.
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