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Budget Debate 2020 - 2021

Budget Debate 2020 - 2021

By fijivillage
Monday 27/07/2020

Members of parliament will deliver their response to the 2020/2021 National Budget.

2020-2021 Budget Resources

AddressEstimatesSupplement
Revenue PoliciesCustoms Tariff Act

Photos from Parliament 27th July 2020.


Over 140 hotels and properties show interest in government’s Tourism Recovery Package

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 01/08/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms over 140 hotels and properties have decided to work with Fiji Airways to come up with government’s Tourism Recovery Package.

Government has allocated $60 million for the Fiji Recovery Rebate Package in the 2020/2021 National Budget where through Fiji Airways, the government will give the first 150,000 visitors $400 each to go towards packages including flights, accommodation and Food and Beverages.

Sayed-Khaiyum had earlier said that Fiji Airways will work with different operators and they will have to give at least 45% discount before the duty reduction.

He says government will subsidize up to $400 for the first 150,000 tourists and the amount will be split between Fiji Airways and the hotel property.




Budget allocations are expected to nudge consumer and business confidence and stimulate domestic demand over the next few months – RBF Governor

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 31/07/2020
Governor and Chairman of the Reserve Bank of Fiji Board, Ariff Ali

Governor and Chairman of the Reserve Bank of Fiji Board, Ariff Ali says targeted changes to the tax regime, increased allocations to critical social and economic sectors along with the provision of unemployment benefits reflected in the 2020-21 National Budget, are expected to positively nudge consumer and business confidence and stimulate domestic demand over the next few months.

Ali says more importantly, the incentives in the Budget should help support the tourism industry by enhancing competition and enable it to drive the economic recovery when travel restrictions are lifted.

He has also cautioned that the economy is operating well below potential and the ongoing weakness in the labour market owing to job losses and reduced hours will continue to be a drag on economic activity.

Ali says the halt in global travel has brought Fiji’s important tourism sector to a standstill and negatively impacted the broader economy.

He says sectoral performances, consumption spending and investment activity have contracted considerably relative to a year ago.

Governor Ali says credit growth decelerated further in June on account of lower lending to the private sector while high levels of liquidity of around $786.1 million in the banking system have underlined the decline in new lending and deposit rates in the review period.

He says while banks are well capitalised and the overall financial system remains sound, the recent build-up in non-performing loans could impact financial stability moving ahead.

It has also been revealed that annual inflation came in negative for the ninth consecutive month and reached a historic low of -3.5 percent in June. The year-end inflation is likely to be lower than the current 1.0 percent forecast, factoring in the year-to-date outturn, July fuel price review, and the impact of the 2020-21 National Budget.

Foreign reserves are currently comfortable at $2.1 billion sufficient to cover 7.7 months of retained imports of goods and services, and are anticipated to remain adequate in the medium term.

Governor Ali says that in light of the stable foreign reserves and inflation outlook, the RBF will continue to maintain its accommodative stance and closely monitor international and domestic economic developments and align monetary policy accordingly.

He also says the global economy still remains in a precarious situation.

Ali says while some economies have started easing COVID-19 containment measures, bringing about a gradual resumption of economic activity, the resurgence of infections in the US, Spain, Australia, and parts of Asia has led to the re-imposition of COVID-19 restrictions.

The RBF Governor says moving ahead, the prospects of a second wave of infections and containment measures coupled with the escalating US-China tensions could further prolong this current weak global economic environment.




Bank interest rates will eventually go down but govt will not intervene in the market – AG

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Friday 31/07/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says bank interest rates will eventually go down as other factors will come into play, and the government cannot intervene in the market.

Sayed-Khaiyum says as term deposits come down, bank lending rates will also come down.

He also says people also need to understand that the banks have to make provisions for a number of bad debts.

Meanwhile, National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad had said that the Banks should consider reducing the interest rates because the liquidity is rising.

While speaking on the motion to debate 13 consequential bills in parliament, Prasad says while the banks are providing relief to the people by deferring the loan repayments, they have not reduced interest rates yet.




2020/2021 National Budget Passed

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 30/07/2020

Parliament has passed the 2020/2021 National Budget.

The bill for an Act to appropriate a sum of $3, 211,019,121 for the ordinary services of Government for the year ending 31st July 2021 has been enacted by parliament.




You cannot increase taxes and cut civil servants’ pay if people are hurting - AG

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 30/07/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Unity Fiji Leader, Savenaca Narube

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says you cannot increase taxes and cut civil servants’ pay if people are hurting, and a 10 percent civil service salary cut would have resulted in about $120 million being taken out of the economy.

While speaking on the 2020/2021 National Budget, Sayed-Khaiyum says suggestions by people like Unity Fiji Leader, Savenaca Narube that VAT should be increased to 12 percent, an additional 20 percent company surcharge should be imposed on companies making super profits, civil servants’ salaries should be cut and personal income tax should have increased, would have lowered the confidence level of people of the country.

Sayed-Khaiyum says international monetary agencies are giving loans at concessionary interest rates at zero percent to 1.5 percent. He says if they did not believe Fiji had the capacity to pay they would not have offered to give the loans.

He also says the opposition members are misleading people by saying that duty is only going down for white goods.

Sayed-Khaiyum says duty reductions on the 1,600 items will benefit everyone.




Education Minister highlights abuse of government’s assistance

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 30/07/2020
Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar.

Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar has highlighted in parliament that there has been misuse of subsidized bus cards and boats that have been provided for students.

Akbar says what they have found that on many occasions, the boats that are provided for the transportation of students are being used for community purposes.

She says these boats are supposed to provide the services to children for free. Akbar says every year they give an average of 6 to 10 boats, outboard engines and fuel to schools.

She says that their tracking systems have shown that some students are not in school but their bus cards are being used.

Akbar adds they have found that parents have been using the bus cards and that is why they have locked the cards so that it can be used only at particular times.




We want to know what the 220 staff of Housing Authority of Fiji are doing - Kumar

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 30/07/2020
Minister for Housing Premila Kumar

Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar confirms they are undertaking a job evaluation exercise and also looking at staffing needs at the Housing Authority of Fiji.

While speaking in parliament, Kumar says they want to know what the 220 staff of Housing Authority of Fiji are doing as most of their work is outsourced.

Kumar also reveals that they are moving Public Rental Board staff into the Housing Authority of Fiji building.

She says through a cabinet decision, they are making some changes and there is going to be an overall change in the Housing sector.

The Minister for Housing says it will chew a lot of money to keep Public Rental Board separate and overhead cost of operations will come down when the PRB goes into Housing Authority of Fiji.




Fiji gives over or close to 80% of the total grant funding to USP - AG

By Iva Danford
Thursday 30/07/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji contributes over or close to 80 percent of the total grant funding that all other Pacific island countries give to the University of the South Pacific.

This has been highlighted by the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after SODELPA MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau sought an update on the grants given to USP from the current financial year to the 2020-2021 National Budget.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji will give over $27 million and the next highest grant is given by Solomon Islands who give about $2 million which is the point of difference. He also says they are concerned about the financial management at USP.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Pro Chancellor and the Audit and Risk Committee Chairperson have raised that there are a lot of anomalies, and they will work with the university on this.




Tabuya questions why 86% of budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Housing is under requisition

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 30/07/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and ODELPA MP, Lynda Tabuya.

“R” or requisition which is appearing in the 2020-2021 National Budget next to budgetary allocations is a check-off system and it brings in the best form of accountability.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stressed this in parliament this morning when SODELPA MP, Lynda Tabuya raised that 86% of budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Housing and Community Development is under requisition.

The Ministry of Housing and Community Development has been allocated $13.5 million and Tabuya says nearly the entire budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Housing is under requisition.

A budget requisition constitutes a formal request for funding.

In response, Sayed-Khaiyum says this matter should not be personalised as the requisition does not even come to him if the amount is $1 million or less.





Two children who recently needed immediate medical treatment were sent to NZ

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete and SODELPA MP Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu.

Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that government was able to send two children who needed immediate medical treatment to New Zealand as money has been allocated for that.

Waqainabete highlighted this after SODELPA MP Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu sought clarification on how will government prioritize visiting medical teams coming into the country, as money has been allocated for overseas medical and consultancy services and foreign visiting medical teams in the 2020-2021 National Budget.

Waqainabete says one of the children needed a heart operation and the other needed a chest operation.

He says that these two high-end emergency cases will probably cost them more.

Waqainabete also highlighted that they were able to bring back 60 Fijian patients who were stuck in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the visiting teams may coming next year but it will depend on the situation.




People who have health issues may be allowed to quarantine in their own homes - Dr Waqainabete

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete and SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya.

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has stressed that people who have returned from abroad can be given permission to quarantine in their own homes if they are deemed unfit to stay in a government designated quarantine facility.

This is after SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya raised concerns in parliament that some military officers were seen providing quarantine monitoring at homes in the Suva area.

Waqainabete says no one is exempted from quarantine but there may be some who come back sick or after having their treatment and staying in government designated facilities may be inappropriate for them.

Waqainabete has assured people that the protocols in place are water tight which is why there has not been a single case of community transmission of COVID-19 so far.

He says upon arrival in the country, an assessment is made by the Incident Management COVID-19 Team and the disciplined forces whether it is fine for them to quarantine in their own homes.

Waqainabete says the disciplined forces will provide quarantine enforcement around them until they complete their quarantine period.





35,000 plus students indicate that their parents have either lost their jobs or are on reduced hours – Akbar

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar and NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad.

Minister for Education Rosy Akbar says they will not be able to commit anything on providing lunches in schools for now because they do not have funding for that and also do not have an actual study report which indicates that children are going to school without lunches.

She has also revealed in parliament that over 35,000 students have indicated that their parents have either lost their jobs or are on reduced hours and assistance will be directed to them.

Akbar highlighted this as she was replying to NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad’s query whether the Ministry has space within the budget to allocate funds to organizations or NGOs so that children in affected areas are provided free meals.

The Education Minister also says schools have savings from the Free Education Grants.

Akbar highlighted that they will revise the Free Education Grant so that schools that are smaller and in the maritime areas benefit from the grant.





Usamate tells Ratu Suliano to stop talking about things like unfinished business

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Lands and Infrastructure, Jone Usamate and SODELPA MP, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua

Minister for Lands and Infrastructure, Jone Usamate has called on SODELPA MP, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua to stop talking about things like unfinished business relating to the Qoliqoli Bill and the Land Claims Tribunal Bill as it would bring about chaos and racial discrimination in the country.

Ratu Suliano Matanitobua has said that the Land Claims Tribunal Bill and the Qoliqoli Bill was their unfinished agenda when the late Laisenia Qarase led government was in power.

While speaking in parliament during the budget debate, Ratu Suliano announced that with all sincerity this nation and it’s people will continue to seek to achieve what the late Qarase was prematurely stopped from doing in his time.

Ratu Suliano also said he wishes to recognize the historic legislation the late Qarase proposed in line with his 50/50 by 2020, a Blueprint which was approved by parliament in December 2001 to achieve in full measures the intents and covenants of the Deed of Cession.

However Usamate has stressed in parliament that Ratu Suliano has to move away from this thinking.

The Qoliqoli Bill, Land Claims Tribunal Bill and the Reconciliation Bill were given as some of the reasons for the December 2006 coup as it was said that it would bring about racial discrimination.

When questioned by Fijivillage if SODELPA will bring back the two bills, Ratu Suliano says that they will not.

Ratu Suliano says he had praised the unfinished business from the Qarase government in trying to get the two bills which was prematurely stopped.




Role of Film Censorship Board different to what Nawaikula is talking about - PM

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says there is a lot of difference between the role of the Film Censorship Board and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula’s suggestion that the board is not doing it’s job as more children are accessing pornography.

Nawaikula had said in parliament that the Film Censorship Board is completely useless and he also questioned the purpose of the board if children can easily access pornography on their mobile phones.

Nawaikula says this should have been changed now and it would have been useful if it was a Film and Internet Censorship Board instead.

While responding to Nawaikula, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Film Censorship Board serves a different purpose.




Motion to increase Turaga-ni-Koro allowance defeated in parliament

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 29/07/2020
SODELPA MP Adi Litia Qionibaravi.

SODELPA MP Adi Litia Qionibaravi’s motion to increase Turaga-ni-Koro Allowance from $1.43 million to $2.86 million in the 2020-2021 National Budget has been defeated.

While moving the motion, Qionibaravi says Turaga-ni-Koros receive $100 monthly allowance when they all know that they work around the clock in the village.

Qionibaravi says the Turaga-ni-Koros are not receiving enough money for their work and this is a very sad situation given the official of the village has to coordinate all government and non governmental visitations and they have their own work where they coordinate other activities. She says the monthly allowance should be increased from $100 to $300.

As Qionibaravi continued to provide justification for her motion and said that Turaga-ni-Koros are getting below the minimum wage rate, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs Voreqe Bainimarama stated that Turaga-ni-Koros are not getting wages but an allowance.

Bainimarama also said that Turaga-ni-Koros also should not be compared with any other employee.

Another SODELPA MP, Mosese Bulitavu while supporting the motion stated that at times Turaga-ni-Koros have to provide money from their own pockets and $100 monthly allowance is not enough.

Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Selai Adimaitoga then highlighted that Turaga-ni-Koros do not work on a full-time basis.




PM will travel overseas if there is a vaccine and if there is a need - AG

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and NFP Leader Biman Prasad.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Prime Minister will travel overseas if there is a vaccine and if there is a need.

This has been highlighted by Sayed-Khaiyum after NFP Leader Biman Prasad asked if the Prime Minister intends to travel with an allocation of $350,000 for his overseas travel in the 2020/2021 National Budget.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they have reduced the Prime Minister’s travel allocation by more than $1 million and when the borders open, he will travel.

He says Prasad should know this as it is basic economics, and he then said in hindi to the NFP Leader not to embarrass himself.

Meanwhile a motion by SODELPA MP Mitieli Bulanauca that the $250,000 allocation be increased to $500,000 so that Fiji Mahogany Trust can help landowners in 14 stations in Fiji to go into small businesses, was defeated.

The Prime Minister says the allocated $250,000 for the Fiji Mahogany Trust under the Office of the Prime Minister is under-utilized over many years.




FijiFirst will fight to keep the sovereignty of the nation- Prakash

By Tifa Vataiki
Wednesday 29/07/2020
FijiFirst MP Vijendra Prakash.

FijiFirst MP Vijendra Prakash says the FijiFirst government will fight tooth and nail to keep the sovereignty and dignity of the country intact.

Prakash says the commitment of government has always been to put the interest of the people first.

He says we should all be patriotic to this land we call home, where we can create a common platform and understanding for people of different races and beliefs in the country to work together in building the nation.

He says the 2020/2021 National Budget will help in the construction industry in investing in many building projects that will be implemented thus creating employment opportunities for many Fijians.

Prakash says an increase in budget allocations in the different areas like agriculture, women, children and poverty alleviation, forestry, defence, and the Police Force will create more investment and employment to drive the economy.

He says this is a timely boost to improve and provide security and jobs for a safer holiday destination.




Fijians satisfied with the commitment by the government - Sharma

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 29/07/2020
FijiFirst MP Rohit Sharma.

FijiFirst MP, Rohit Sharma says there were numerous rumours with negative connotations about the recent budget prior to the announcement of the budget that was spreading faster than COVID-19.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Sharma says the budget is for the absolute majority of our population and it must have taken a herculean effort to prepare.

Sharma says travelling throughout the country after the budget announcement he was overwhelmed by the fact that wherever he went the people he met were overjoyed with the 2020/2021 National Budget.

He says it was evident the public was satisfied with the commitment by the government.




Fiji exposed during pandemic as Government not disciplined in spending - Vosanibola

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 29/07/2020
SODELPA MP, Peceli Vosanibola

SODELPA MP, Peceli Vosanibola claims in the 10 years of unprecedented growth, the government was not disciplined in its spending and when this major global catastrophe occurred Fiji was exposed.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Vosanibola says 20% cuts in government payroll will generate at least half a million in savings which could be channelled to additional unemployment assistance.

Vosanibola adds Fiji has relied on a tourism led recovery expecting more than 400,000 tourists in 2021.

He says the customs and excise duty reductions are predicated on a consumer led recovery which is not the right policy setting.

He further says the budget aids the construction industry, and is more for the wealthy and not for ordinary Fijians.

The SODELPA MP says there is no significant assistance to low income workers and FNPF continues to be the mainstream workers owned saving for when they stop earning. He says using this will lead to savings drying up when it is needed the most.

Vosanibola says the budget has no strategies for diversification of economy on manufacturing, agriculture and forestry especially mahogany.

He says it contains no incentives to attract large foreign economic sector businesses to invest in Fiji.

Vosanibola says we were already in economic decline before the incidents of COVID-19.




Budget shows Government is truly for the people - Vegnathan

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Sugar George Vegnathan.

Assistant Minister for Sugar, George Vegnathan, says this Government has demonstrated through this budget that they are truly for the people.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Vegnathan says even during these challenging times, when the future is uncertain, Government will still honour its commitment to pay $85 per tonne for sugar cane for the 2020 crop.

Vegnathan says no other Government has ever provided so much assistance in the history of Fiji to the sugar cane farmers.

He adds as of today the three mills have crushed 359,757 tonnes of cane compared to 284,356 tonnes for the same period last year.

Vegnathan says they are certain that in years to come sugar will once again be the number one foreign reserve earner.

He further says the United Nations has also commended the Fijian Government for this bold and courageous budget.

He adds the increase in domestic consumption will increase demand for goods and services thus increase demand for labours to produce to meet the increase in demand for goods and services.

Vegnathan says as a result, it creates employment opportunities within Fiji which is the path of recovery.




52 lives lost with total loss valued at $2.42 billion during natural disasters in past decade - Nath

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Vijay Nath.

Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Vijay Nath says in the last ten years, 52 people lost their lives during natural disasters with total loss valued at $2.42 billion.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Nath says in 2010 TC Thomas caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $84.3 million representing 1.4% of GDP with 1 death.

Nath says in 2012 TC Evan caused total damages and losses valued at $194.9m representing 2.74% of GDP.

He says in 2016 TC Winston caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $194.9m representing 19.35% of GDP where 44 people had lost their lives.

Nath further says in 2018, TC Geeta caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $1.2m representing 0.012% of GDP.

He adds TC Keni caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $1.2m representing 0.028% of GDP where two people had lost their lives.

Nath says in 2019, TC Sarai caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $10.3m representing 0.09% of GDP with the loss of two lives while TC Tino caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $3.2m representing 0.03% of GDP with two lives lost.

He says in 2020 TC Harold caused total damages and losses valued at approximately $100m representing 0.9% of GDP one life was lost.

Nath says $800,000 has been allocated to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to ensure that disaster relief and response activities are provided to affected communities.

Nath says they are also working to identify black spot areas around the country where further support will be provided to ensure communication is not affected during disasters.




Only unprecedented growth Fiji’s economy has seen is the growth of debt – Salote Radrodro

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 29/07/2020
SODELPA parliamentarian Salote Radrodro

SODELPA parliamentarian Salote Radrodro says she believes the only unprecedented growth Fiji’s economy has seen is the growth of debt.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Radrodro claims Fiji’s national debt has increased more than three times since 2006 from around $2.5 billion to $8.3 billion in 2020.

Radrodro has also urged the Government to capitalise on Fiji’s local expertise to save money which can be used to pay overtime and meal allowances to civil servants.

She further says the Minister for Economy in his budget address has capitalised on the pandemic as an excuse for Fiji’s economic doom.

Radrodro says ministers will be faced with delay and non-achievement of work targets and people will suffer the consequences of poor public service delivery.

Radrodro says the total budget for the Ministry of Women has increased by $14 million but that only looks good on paper as $135 million is held under requisition which includes all core programs.




Waqainabete confirms pap smear test still being conducted despite claims by Qereqeretabua that women have not been able to get a pap smear since November

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that pap smear tests are still being conducted despite claims by National Federation Party MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua that since November last year, Fijian women have not been able to get a pap smear because the laboratories do not have the filters to carry out proper tests.

He says Qereqeretabua has misled parliament by saying that there were issues with cervical cancer tests because the pap smear tests were not available.

Waqainabete highlighted this while speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate.

He says they had bought a new testing machine but they had issues with it.

However Waqainabete says they have several ways of doing cervical cancer testing as they use pap smear as a automated and manual method, and the machine is also fixed.

Waqainabete also confirmed that a door at CWM hospital that NFP President Pio Tikoduadua highlighted was not fixed for 6 months, has been fixed and if it is bad again, they will fix it again.

He told Tikoduadua that the next time he wants to take a picture of something in the hospital he will need to follow the normal routine by going to the medical superintendent and saying that he wants to take a picture.

Tikoduadua says last year he saw the same door not fixed and yesterday he went to CWM and saw that was still not fixed.




Don’t feign empathy for the poor, don’t feign your patriotism, intellectual input and credibility by producing some email that was not read in full - AG

By Vijay Narayan, Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told Members of the Opposition not to feign empathy for the poor, and not to feign their patriotism, intellectual input and credibility by producing some email that was not read in full.

While speaking during his 2020/2021 National Budget Right of Reply, Sayed-Khaiyum says the opposition is yet again misleading parliament during the budget debate.

He also says he is concerned that the Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka supported the budget on budget night but then went against it during the debate.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Rabuka had said on July 17th that we have to be positive when you talk about the measures that have been announced in the budget, it is a courageous budget and it is up to us to critique it properly and hopefully the nation can get behind it and they achieve the goals to get the economy back on track.

He also highlighted that Rabuka was discrediting the RBF in his budget response speech but then went on to quote the RBF figures to back his own argument.

The Minister for Economy also says there was nothing sinister in him sending an email to the Prime Minister in 2013 about how the GDP base figures were being calculated. Sayed-Khaiyum says Pio Tikoduadua and the NFP Leader are now caught out for suggesting what was not happening.

Sayed-Khaiyum also told Pio Tikoduadua that he professes treacherous politics.

He then highlighted the story from a Bollywood movie in the 1980s where the late Kader Khan acted as the Opposition Leader and was telling a favourite reporter how to cover stories. Sayed-Khaiyum alleges that is what Biman Prasad and Fiji Times have conspired to do.

Prasad says he will comment later.


Related Story:

Pio Tikoduadua and Jone Usamate clash on why Tikoduadua left FijiFirst


By Iva Danford
Tuesday 28/07/2020

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The President of the National Federation Party and MP Pio Tikoduadua says he left FijiFirst because he did not want to be a Yes Man, however the Minister for Infrastructure Jone Usamate says Tikoduadua may be lying now or may have lied before as he had earlier said that he had resigned due to health reasons.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Tikoduadua highlighted that he is glad that he quit after only 9 months, because his conscience could not allow him to serve two masters who were scratching each other’s backs while the nation and its people were being led up the garden path.


Jone Usamate says when Tikoduadua resigned in 2014, he made a public statement that it was due to his health conditions, but did not mention anything about the leadership of the Prime Minister or the Attorney General.

Tikoduadua also highlighted that he has in his possession an email allegedly given to him by the Prime Minister that was sent to him by the Attorney General on 15th December 2013.

He says the entire email contained the Attorney General’s concerns about the need to re-look at the GDP base after the figures released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics estimated the 2012 growth to 1.7% when a growth of 2.2% was announced in the budget. Tikoduadua says he was the Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office at the time. In that email the Attorney General is raising concern on how the GDP base is calculated by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics.

While responding to the allegations made by Tikoduadua, Usamate says he has read the email and there is nothing sinister being suggested in it but Tikoduadua is interpreting it to suit his own agenda.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to respond to these matters in his Right of Reply in parliament later this morning.







Opposition should talk to over 80,000 Fijians who are covered by government’s social protection net before commenting on the budget – Vuniwaqa

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa

“The Opposition had the audacity to call this budget irresponsible, rudderless, theoretical and deceiving – but they should tell this to the over 80,000 Fijians and their families who are covered by government’s social protection net.”

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa stated this while speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has been allocated $159 million in the budget.

Vuniwaqa says with the $14.4 million increase in their budget, this is the highest budget to have been ever allocated to the Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

She says $9.9 million of this increase has been through donor support funding from the government of Australia and the rest is from the Fijian government.

The largest portion of the Ministry’s total budget allocation is for the administration of the nation's social protection programs and those benefiting from these programs include women, pregnant women, single parents, children, the poor and persons living with disabilities and the elderly.

Vuniwaqa says the Poverty Benefit Scheme that currently assists over 25,817 households has received an allocation of $38.3 million whereas the Care and Protection Allowance Program that currently assists 8,366 households has received an allocation of $12.3 million.

She says the allowance of $100 under the Social Pension Scheme will be maintained, with the eligibility age remaining at 65 years.

The budget allocation to the Social Pension Scheme is $55.3 million and currently there are 45,898 recipients under this program.

She says the Expanded Food Voucher for Rural Pregnant Mothers will be maintained at $50 and so far 3,127 women have benefited from this program in the current financial year.

Vuniwaqa adds that they will continue to administer the disability allowance and this program currently supports over 8,000 beneficiaries who are getting $90 per month.

Vuniwaqa also stated that they have heard from NFP’s Lenora Qereqeretabua about the importance of the budget for the modification of homes for persons living with disabilities where she said the loss of funding to Habitat for Humanity will mean that persons with disabilities may have to wait five to seven years to get assistance from private benefactors and many may not get any assistance at all.

Vuniwaqa says Qereqeretabua’s statement intentionally glosses over the fact that there is a budget allocation for the modification of homes for persons living with disabilities under the Ministry of Housing. She says as members of parliament, they must always give full facts on issues they raise because thousands of Fijians are counting on them and what they say.

Meanwhile, Vuniwaqa reveals that 79% of all relevant beneficiaries have fulfilled the re-certification requirement and for those who haven’t fulfilled this requirement, their allowances will be suspended from August.

She says such allowances will continue to be suspended until the re-certification requirements have been fulfilled.

Vuniwaqa says if these requirements are not met by December this year, the allowances will be terminated.





Pio Tikoduadua and Jone Usamate clash on why Tikoduadua left FijiFirst

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 28/07/2020

The President of the National Federation Party and MP Pio Tikoduadua says he left FijiFirst because he did not want to be a Yes Man, however the Minister for Infrastructure Jone Usamate says Tikoduadua may be lying now or may have lied before as he had earlier said that he had resigned due to health reasons.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Tikoduadua highlighted that he is glad that he quit after only 9 months, because his conscience could not allow him to serve two masters who were scratching each other’s backs while the nation and its people were being led up the garden path.


Jone Usamate says when Tikoduadua resigned in 2014, he made a public statement that it was due to his health conditions, but did not mention anything about the leadership of the Prime Minister or the Attorney General.

Tikoduadua also highlighted that he has in his possession an email allegedly given to him by the Prime Minister that was sent to him by the Attorney General on 15th December 2013.

He says the entire email contained the Attorney General’s concerns about the need to re-look at the GDP base after the figures released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics estimated the 2012 growth to 1.7% when a growth of 2.2% was announced in the budget. Tikoduadua says he was the Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office at the time. In that email the Attorney General is raising concern on how the GDP base is calculated by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics.

While responding to the allegations made by Tikoduadua, Usamate says he has read the email and there is nothing sinister being suggested in it but Tikoduadua is interpreting it to suit his own agenda.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to respond to these matters in his Right of Reply in parliament later this morning.






The best way to quickly generate jobs is through construction - Usamate

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Infrastructure and Lands, Jone Usamate

“The best way to quickly generate jobs is through construction as this has been proven over and over again every-time there has been an economic problem in the world.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Lands, Jone Usamate stated this while speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate where he highlighted that government’s budget is focusing on construction which will generate jobs, grow consumption and stimulate the internal economy.

He says they are continuing their emphasis on agriculture and the micro, small and medium enterprises.

The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources has been given $24.9 million.

Usamate says the Ministry will look to generate public-private partnerships to help them grow the kind of infrastructure expansion that is needed to stimulate the economy.

He says they will privatise the identification of land for improvement in infrastructure, construction of hospitals, health centres and medical centres, police posts and also for housing.




Education Ministry says Ro Teimumu’s statement regarding Free Education Grant per child is inaccurate

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar and MP Ro Teimumu Kepa

The Ministry of Education says that SODELPA MP Ro Teimumu Kepa made an inaccurate statement regarding the Free Education Grant in parliament while responding to the 2020/2021 National Budget yesterday.

Ro Teimumu had said that the Free Education Grant for small and medium schools was reduced to $150 per child and $156 per child for larger schools in 2018.

However, Minister for Education Rosy Akbar says schools receive a Free Education Grant of up to $852 per child, depending on the size and locality of the school.

The Ministry say that they will continue to ensure that Fijian children receive the best education possible that will allow them to have happy and productive lives and be equipped to lead and sustain Fiji in the future.

Akbar has also stated in parliament that despite a reduction in the budget, access to education has not been compromised and students will continue to receive free tuition, free textbooks, subsidised transport and many other similar grants.

The Ministry says it is appalling that such misleading information is being provided to the people of Fiji and the Ministry would like to know where the Member of Parliament sources her information from or if it was simply done to gain media attention.




14 years is too long, government has run out of steam and has no new ideas – Lynda Tabuya

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 28/07/2020
SODELPA MP, Lynda Tabuya

SODELPA MP, Lynda Tabuya says the government still has no new ideas and is not even engaged in innovative thinking of looking inward and seeing Fiji for what it has to offer today to help our economy and our people.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget, Tabuya says the government is still focusing on tourism and sugar and it is clear that government has run out of steam and has no new ideas.

Tabuya says 14 years is too long for any government to remain in control and this is why the most powerful country in the world, the USA only allows the President to run for eight years.

Tabuya then went on to say that when the Prime Minister travels to cut ribbons, the Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and government personnel follow him which is contributing to huge overheads and wastage.

She says that when people are struggling to provide daily necessities like nutritious food, adequate housing and affordable medicine, the government has announced in this budget that it will build the Prime Minister’s new office.

Tabuya has questioned whether this is the time to look at alternatives to sugar with sugar prices on a global decline and with the Fiji Sugar Corporation making loss after loss.

She says it is time to grow Fiji by focusing on the primary industry and niche markets.

Tabuya adds that Fiji National Provident Fund which has largely invested in tourism and property development needs to re-prioritise and invest in Fiji’s primary industry.

She adds Fiji Investment Corporation needs to be quickly re-established to provide better equity investment capital for start-up businesses in priority industries including agriculture.




Tinned fish distributed was not banned in Malaysia- Seruiratu

By Naveel Krishant, Semi Turaga
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for National Disaster Management and Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu and NFP parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua

Minister for National Disaster Management and Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu has apologised if the tinned fish that was part of the assistance provided to recipients in Kadavu was of inferior quality after NFP parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua said in parliament that the tinned fish was of sub-standard quality.

However Seruiratu confirmed that there was a health certificate confirming that the product is safe for human consumption.

Qereqeretabua had claimed that in June 2018 Malaysia’s Ministry of Health ordered this very brand to be taken off supermarket shelves because it had been found to contain round worms.

She says and yet this is what the government gave to people in Kadavu, and who knows where else.

Qereqeretabua said that she brought the tinned fish from Kadavu.


Seruiratu says the product that Qereqeretabua said was banned in Malaysia was canned sardines and not canned mackerel.

He says the product shown in parliament by Qereqeretabua was canned mackerel with vegetable oil.





National Kidney Dialysis and Research Centre to be operational from November - Alex O'Connor

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Health, Alex O'Connor

Assistant Minister for Health, Alex O'Connor has revealed that the National Kidney Dialysis and Research Centre is scheduled to be fully operational from November this year for patients of the greater Suva-Nausori area.

O'Connor says government has also approved and set aside budgetary allocation for subsidising dialysis cost for patients in the low income stages. He says this subsidy is already in use for kidney patients in Labasa and will soon commence in Suva.

$100,000 has been allocated for the Kidney Dialysis Treatment Subsidy in the 2020/2021 National Budget.

O'Connor adds that following years of specialists training through the Fiji National University and in abroad, Fijian medical specialists have come back to set up specialist services in the Ministry of Health.

These are urology, neurosurgery, plastic-surgery, pediatric surgery, nephrology, invasive cardiology, medical oncology, neonatalogy, pediatric cardiology and emergency medicine.

O'Connor says many of these high and complex specialist medical services did not exist in Fiji before 2012 and the Ministry of Health used to send Fijians to overseas hospitals for expert treatments which would take hours and cost thousands of dollars.

He says well trained and competent local medical specialists are now providing these services in Fiji which means significant savings in transportation, living expenses and emotional pressures from being away in a foreign land for specialist treatment.

O'Connor adds that outreach visits are now conducted at sub divisional hospitals and maritime islands by specialists from the main hospitals at an increased frequency.

He also confirms that Fiji now has the lithotripter machine which is the first of its kind in the Pacific that ensures that treatment of kidney stones are improved as many patients that used to require open surgical procedures for their kidney stones are now treated without requiring to undergo a surgical operation or admitted for long periods of time at the hospital.

O'Connor further says they also have the Liquid-based cytology machine which is the first of its kind in Fiji and was purchased to increase the volume and timeliness of diagnosis for cancer which is now the third most common cause of mortality in Fiji.




Bulanauca and Nawaikula made misleading remarks in parliament - Minister for Forestry

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Forestry Osea Naiqamu

Minister for Forestry Osea Naiqamu has clarified that the Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited had increased their mahogany production to 19,801 cubic metres rather than the 15,000 cubic metres highlighted by SODELPA MP Mitieli Bulanauca.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Naiqamu says that Bulanauca’s statement on the mahogany industry was not only misleading but also irresponsibly misguiding the mahogany landowners.

He says Bulanauca obviously plucked his figures from thin air.

He further says that Bulanauca also misquoted the reforestation figures where Fiji Hardwood Corporation has replanted over 4,000 hectares and not 509 hectares of mahogany.

The Minister also says that SODELPA MP Niko Naiwaikula had made general and misplaced remarks on the budget as not being a stimulus for the primary industries.

He says it is highly irresponsible of the Members of the Opposition to misinform parliament and the nation.

He further says the truth is that the Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited has always empowered landowners in numerous ways, including especially economically, by meaningfully engaging them in both harvesting and reforestation of mahogany leased land.

Naiqamu also commended the work of the Minister for Economy and his team on putting together a smarter and responsive budget.

He says the new budget will enable them to assist Fijians that have lost their houses due to TC Harold and $1.5 million have been allocated for the maritime pine development and the purchase of harvesting machines and equipment.

The Minister says they are working in collaboration with other agencies to start re-building houses up to category 4 cyclone standard and this is the commitment the government is making to the people.




Viam Pillay asks Qereqeretabua where was her manners when she cursed their children

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Viam Pillay and NFP MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Viam Pillay has asked NFP MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua where was her manners when she cursed their children earlier this year - adding she is absolutely right in that manners maketh man.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget, Pillay says Qereqeretabua’s act of cursing innocent children, including those who are yet to be born, tells them what she is made of.

He also says while Qereqeretabua was posting pictures on her Facebook page, the Minister for Economy was up until the early hours of the morning with his team drafting a very big and complicated budget for weeks and weeks.

Pillay says Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was sacrificing his personal time and sleep to go out on the ground and talk to Fijians while Qereqeretabua was posting pictures of birthday cakes on her page.

He says there is nothing wrong in Qereqeretabua doing personal things with her family.

Pillay told Qereqeretabua not to try to come to parliament and suggest that the Minister for Economy is not a servant of the people when he has done more for this country in the last 2 months than Qereqeretabua has done in her entire life.

He says perhaps the former beauty queen does not quite understand how difficult drafting a National Budget is.

Pillay says that he would rather wait 1 hour and get the best budget than try to rush such a thing.

He adds even up until the last minute, the hardworking budget team is working non stop to ensure everything is correct.

He adds Qereqeretabua or whichever lawyer wrote her speech, seems to have something very personal against the Minister for Economy.

Meanwhile Qereqeretabua says the 2020/2021 National Budget got off to a bad start as the Minister for Economy delayed the delivery by more than a hour.

She says Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum did not give an explanation nor did he apologise for the delay.

She also today paid respect to people and groups who have used their own resources to reach out and help the desperate families.

Qereqeretabua says this is a government that has been reckless and wasteful adding it has stubbornly refused to accept advice from anyone.

She adds it behaves as though one man knows everything.

Qereqeretabua says at a time when we should be encouraging local production, and saving foreign exchange, the budget encourages cheaper imports.




2020-2021 National Budget is a budget of panic - Professor Prasad

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 28/07/2020
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.

National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says the 2020-2021 National Budget is a budget of panic and after years of ignoring the tourism industry, government has decided to cut tourism taxes, abolishing business licenses and stamp duty.

While delivering his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Prasad says the budget states that all this is to make the economy more efficient.

He says this year the Minister for Economy talks about boldness and courage but it does not take courage to cut import duty on luxury cars and electric hair dryers.

Prasad says there is no courage here, there is panic.

He says for almost 15 years, the government has been running the economy and has refused to listen to anybody else.

Prasad says there needs to be a National Economic Summit to discuss the future economic policies, chart a common economic vision and carry it out.

He says it is time for them to all share in making economic policy as the economy belongs to the people.

Prasad says thousands of people still depend on the sugar industry and its supposed to have been reformed.

He says every year he responds to the budget address and focus on the same problems but these problems never change.

Prasad says the root cause of them is the poor leadership of the government.

He says nowhere in his speech does the Minister for Economy talk about children being hungry because he is too embarrassed, so he talks about the global economy.

Prasad says the minister talks about economic reforms, loan deferrals but nowhere does he talk of hunger.

He also spoke about the work done by some of the civil society organisations on trying to help feed people.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to respond during his Right of Reply in parliament.






Survey reveals average hotel occupancy rate was approximately 55 percent – Koya

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya.

Minister for Tourism, Faiyaz Koya says according to a recent survey of close to 40 hotels around Fiji, the average hotel occupancy rate was approximately 55%.

Koya says these were all our own people, staying an average of 2 nights.

While contributing to the budget debate, Koya says whilst the borders remain closed, they have focused their marketing on domestic tourism – through the “Love our Locals”.

He adds in Fiji, visitor arrivals are expected to decline by 75% this year, whilst earnings as per July 2020 forecast is expected to reduce by 70%.

Koya also says through Tourism Fiji, they have significantly realigned their marketing strategies for the coming financial year.

He says the budget allocation for markets are being re- prioritised and re-diverted adding for example, a portion of the budget for markets such as North Americas, China and India are being redirected to Australia and New Zealand.

Koya adds it goes without saying that Australia and New Zealand will play a key role in our tourism recovery and given that Fiji makes only a small percentage of their outbound markets, there is immense opportunity for growth.




People living with disabilities will not be forgotten- Bhatnagar

By Tifa Vataiki
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar

Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar says the government has always had the best interest of those who are vulnerable and will not let any person living with a disability be left behind as the country progresses forward.

Bhatnagar says that 10% of the Fijian population live with disabilities or special abilities.

She says a person with disabilities should always be included in basic human rights and be treated equally.

She also questioned whether the Opposition has ever had the best interest of the people in mind.

Bhatnagar says with the Disability Allowance allocation of $9.35 million, it assists 7,000 beneficiaries in easing the financial burden on low-income families who look after their loved ones with disabilities.

She says the $90 per month allowance is the only source of income for some of these individuals who live with disabilities who can not provide for themselves.




Budget got off to a bad start as the delivery was late – Qereqeretabua

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/07/2020
National Federation Party Parliamentarian, Lenora Qereqeretabua

National Federation Party Parliamentarian, Lenora Qereqeretabua says the 2020/2021 National Budget got off to a bad start as the Minister for Economy delayed the delivery by more than a hour.

While delivering her response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Qereqeretabua says Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum did not give an explanation nor did he apologise for the delay.

Qereqeretabua says the people were waiting.

Qereqeretabua also today paid respect to people and groups who have used their own resources to reach out and help the desperate families.





Maharaj labels the Opposition as expired politicians

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Employment Youth and Sports Alvick Maharaj

Assistant Minister for Employment, Youth and Sports Alvick Maharaj says the Opposition has been criticizing the budget for the past six years and have failed to realize that the FijiFirst Government continues to deliver.

While delivering his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Maharaj says the Opposition needs eyes to see what is around them.

He says he does not know how long it will take for this set of expired politicians to realize that they are doing no good to the parliamentary process and to the nation.

Maharaj says every year they come with a budget and every time the Opposition either opposes it or walks out which clearly shows how confused they get when they see a budget.

He says he is in support of the budget which puts the people at the centre and that the Opposition members cannot digest this budget because they always put themselves at the centre.




Nand confirms increment for teachers who upgraded themselves will be backdated

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Assistant Minister for Education Joseph Nand.

Assistant Minister for Education Joseph Nand says the increment for teachers who upgraded themselves with qualifications will be backdated and will be remunerated better as per their new and improved qualifications.

While giving his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Nand says that SODELPA parliamentarian Ro Teimumu Kepa had made a lot of inaccurate claims in parliament yesterday.

Nand also says the TELS and National Toppers Scholarships will go through some good policy changes in order to raise the qualifying standards for students at lower costs.

Ro Teimumu had earlier said that it was the FijiFirst Government who lowered the marks required to qualify for TELS and after compromising the standards they are trying to reinstate the previous qualifying marks.

She had questioned on what will happen to those students that scored marks between 200 to 250 because there is no safety net for them.

Ro Teimumu also questioned how the government will ensure that these students get a second chance in life because not everybody can go to TELS or the National Toppers Scheme.

She has also asked the government to stop giving the teachers a run around and just reveal that they don’t have money to pay for their increments at this stage.

Ro Teimumu says the teachers have been eagerly waiting for the My Annual Performance Assessment or MyAPA payment for 2017 to 2018.





Govt is living in self denial and it has done nothing close to what the late Ratu Mara government achieved - Nawaikula

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/07/2020
SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula.

SODELPA MP, Niko Nawaikula says the government is still in self-denial and not admitting that government revenue started to drop from 2018 onwards and he says he is also seriously concerned that despite the borrowings, not much is being channeled into investments.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Nawaikula also claimed the Minister for Economy does not take advice, and tough decisions have to be made by the government.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was not in parliament however he will make his Right of Reply in the house when all the parliamentarians have made their contributions to the National Budget.

Meanwhile Nawaikula says the government has done nothing close to what the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara led government achieved through investing for the future.

040418-mara-obit-hmed-grid-6x2

The late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara

Nawaikula says the budget does not express the country’s true capacity as the government can reduce much more in terms of expenditure and the deficit.

He also claims that the budget is playing victim as Fiji is telling the world that we are in a sorry state and they will give us aid.

Nawaikula says the Minister for Economy is saying they will not rely on aid but Nawaikula says it seems that is exactly what is happening.

He also says why the government side is jumping up and down when there is nothing to celebrate.

The SODELPA MP says the deficit in the budget is $2.7 billion and questions why this large amount of money is being asked.

He also says Fiji needs to focus on replanting pine and mahogany as part of the country’s investment for the future.




Train our people for our job markets rather than bringing expatriates – Radrodro

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 28/07/2020
SODELPA parliamentarian, Aseri Radrodro.

SODELPA parliamentarian, Aseri Radrodro says it will be best to train our people for our job markets rather than bringing many expatriates that we have to rely on like the half a million paid CEO of the Land Transport Authority who he says is a terrible burden on the taxpayers.

Radrodro says he welcomes government’s announcement that the civil service cadet-ship program is being re-established because this type of nurturing and upskilling drives and helps the labour market become resilient and provides a ready-pool of trained employees.

He says this initiative is timely and warranted as many of the top career civil servants went through such training.

Radrodro then questioned as to why road rehabilitation programs continue to be outsourced to foreign companies like China Railway Group and Higgins whilst the rehabilitation and restoration program budget has consistently been significant amounts, and the quality of work done remains questionable.

Radrodro says they are raising concerns on the utilisation of significant expenses on foreign companies like China Railway Group when a local company should be supported with work that develops a capacity of Fiji’s domestic market in experience, expertise and employment opportunities.

He further says that it seems works carried out on our roads are no longer as consistent nor up to a professional standard as it used to be during the days of the Public Works Department.

Meanwhile, Radrodro has congratulated government and its officials who continue to work around the clock to address and eliminate any further lingering COVID-19 threats in our communities.




Reduction in budget does not mean services will be reduced – Kumar

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Minister for Local Government and Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar

Minister for Local Government and Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar says the allocations for her two ministries have been reduced but that does not mean that the services that are being provided will be reduced.

While making her contribution during the budget debate, Kumar says the Municipal Councils’ budgets were not designed for a pandemic of this magnitude, and they are doing everything they can to adapt and make sure that the councils’ services continue as best as possible.

Kumar also says as a result, their Municipal Councils are short of the revenue they need to the tune of $18.4 million.

She adds some of the revenue streams affected at this time are rates, garbage collection fees, stall fees, hiring of sports and events venues, property rentals and parking meter fees.

The Minister also highlighted that their calculations show a total of 432 households will be assisted in 2020/2021 with a total of $6 million allocated for First Home and First Land grants.

Kumar says that the 2020/2021 National Budget is made for economic recovery because it restores business, investor and consumer confidence.

Kumar further says the budget is a well planned budget for the broadest range of Fijians, institutions and the broadest range of needs in our needs.

She adds the opposition is again playing with the emotions of the people by giving them a false hope that they would have done things better than the Government.




Ro Teimumu claims that the govt had compromised the standard of education by lowering marks to qualify for TELS

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/07/2020
SODELPA parliamentarian Ro Teimumu Kepa

SODELPA parliamentarian Ro Teimumu Kepa says it was the FijiFirst Government who lowered the marks required to qualify for TELS and after compromising the standards they are trying to reinstate the previous qualifying marks.

While delivering her response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Ro Teimumu is also questioning on what will happen to those students that scored marks between 200 to 250 because there is no safety net for them.

Ro Teimumu is asking how the government will ensure that these students get a second chance in life because not everybody can go to TELS or the National Toppers Scheme.

She has also asked the government to stop giving the teachers a run around and just reveal that they don’t have money to pay for their increments at this stage.

Ro Teimumu says the teachers have been eagerly waiting for the My Annual Performance Assessment or MyAPA payment for 2017 to 2018.

She says this would be most disappointing because less than 2 percent of the teachers have received their payment.

We will speak to Education Minister, Rosy Akbar today.




Govt should consider work for cash programs in agriculture and fisheries sector – Ratu Naiqama

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 27/07/2020
SODELPA MP, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu

SODELPA MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu says the government should consider work for cash programs in the agriculture and fisheries sector.

While making his contribution to the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, Ratu Naiqama says he believes that these are the two sectors that will provide short term and long term employment opportunities to support our export of primary commodities and manufactured goods.

Ratu Naiqama also says that cash for work program can provide basic needs.

He adds they should be directing their collective efforts in ensuring focus on food security, and health facilities in better position to address the possibility of a likely second wave.

Ratu Naiqama says there are a number of expenditure proposals in the budget that will not help the most vulnerable and allow the ordinary Fijians to put food on the table.

Ratu Naiqama further says they should focus on short term measures that will put food on the table and at the same time look at how they can develop Fiji’s natural resources.

He also says that the government should support the small and micro businesses in the rural areas.

He has also claimed in parliament that investment in the country has continued to decline in the past 8 years because there is a lack of confidence in the private sector.

Ratu Naiqama says this is due to inconsistencies of policies and micromanagement of all facets of socio-economic development of the nation.

Ratu Naiqama adds it is unrealistic to compare us with Singapore, Australia and New Zealand and other developed nations and we should compare ourselves with countries of a similar size, capacity and the vulnerability index.




2020/2021 National Budget anti-poor and insensitive - Jale

By Pratika Mala
Monday 27/07/2020
SODELPA MP Anare Jale

SODELPA MP Anare Jale says the 2020/2021 National Budget can be regarded as anti-poor and insensitive.

While delivering his response to the budget, Jale says a culmination of errors and bad decisions the Government had made in regards to it’s fiscal and monetary policies, years of waste through handouts and failing to save any plans for rainy days make evidently clear that the financial situation the ruling government has created and placed on the people of Fiji.

Jale says we have been hearing from the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum about unprecedented growth but asked whether there has been real growth.

Jale further says COVID-19 is being conveniently blamed for Government’s past failures.

He says whilst the removal of customs duties was obviously intended to benefit the tourism industry and the rich, what would have brought smiles to the faces of majority of Fijians is the removal of VAT from basic food items.

He says to the poor, it is a matter of survival.




26 yachts approved to enter the country

By Tifa Vataiki
Monday 27/07/2020
Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya

Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya says 26 Yachts have been approved to enter the country to date.

While making his contribution to the 2020/2021 National Budget Debate, Koya says the arrival of the yachts will see an injection of $1million into the economy.

He says two weeks ago Fiji welcomed the arrival of the first yachts from New Zealand.

Koya says the yachts alone brought $40,000 into the local community over two days and brings back a little bustle of life to Denarau.




Rabuka has made a U-turn from his initial budget reaction and Biman Prasad should stop worrying about a budget deficit during a crisis - Bala

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 27/07/2020
Minister for Employment, Youth and Sports, Parveen Bala

Minister for Employment, Youth and Sports, Parveen Bala says the Leader of Opposition Sitiveni Rabuka has made a U-turn from his initial reaction to the budget and National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad should stop worrying about a budget deficit at a time of crisis.

Bala says Rabuka earlier made some positive noises on this budget.

While contributing towards the 2020/2021 National Budget debate, he says if they really want to know about the U-turn then they must fix their bolts and nuts then come and ask in parliament.

Bala says Fijians need to be careful and even afraid of these kinds of flip-flop politics from flip flop leaders.

The Minister says Rabuka knows that under his leadership there was no economic progress and safety nets for Fijians apart from the few who benefited from the National Bank of Fiji saga which we are still paying for.

He also says NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad is giving negative comments with no substance and should find out what a good government does during a time of crisis.

He says the government borrows, spends and earns and it must let go of budget deficit because it has to work on a plan for survival and recovery which is the simple economics of dealing with the global crisis and it is this simple plan the government is working through in this budget.

The Minister also says that he is disappointed to see that some civil society organisations are jumping on the bandwagon now.

Meanwhile, Bala has welcomed the $100 million that has been made available to make sure that every unemployed Fijian is able to access full relief payment as 115,000 Fijians or a third of the workforce have had their hours reduced or have lost their jobs.

Bala has also welcomed the budget allocation for the new small, micro, medium initiative as apart from providing immediate relief, new job creators will also emerge from these schemes.

He has also welcomed the $5 million allocation for upskilling and reskilling workers whose old jobs have been lost but for whom new opportunities await and the announcement that any sponsor who donates to a Fiji National Sports Commission listed entity will receive a 150% tax deduction and removing the $10,000 threshold.




No pothole must be left unattended before workers go home- Gavoka

By Iva Danford
Monday 27/07/2020
SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka

SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka says no pothole must be left unattended before the workers go home.

While delivering his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Gavoka says government must find a solution to potholes as it makes Fiji look like a failed state.

He says the 2020-2021 National Budget was badly prepared and ignored the voice of the people to have dialogue and contribute to the solutions to challenges and threats that are unprecedented in human history.

Gavoka says it does not meet the standards expected by free and God fearing people.

He says the Opposition wanted a bipartisanship approach this government refused to take up, NGOs were denied submissions and lead economists went to great length offering help.

Gavoka says now we have ended up with an irresponsible, deceitful and rudderless budget.

Gavoka says COVID-19 is way too big for FijiFirst to handle and it needs to reach out, but sadly it has not done so as they are still living in their old merry ways.

He says hundreds of millions of dollars can be trimmed from the budget and given to the people in a programmed manner to see them through the pandemic and they should not withdraw from FNPF as it is criminal.

Gavoka says many have been laid off in hotels, cruises, land transport, sea transport, airline and support services but we cannot rehire and retrain.

He says for tourist operators, interest charges should be frozen until tourists return.

He says it should be considered that after the 1987 events, airfares from Sydney came down to $99 and that quickly recovered tourism from Australia.

Gavoka says it will be easy to manage.

He says we should always strengthen our relationship with Australia and New Zealand.






FijiFirst has educated more students than any other government - Akbar

By Shanil Singh
Monday 27/07/2020
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar

Minister for Education Rosy Akbar says the reason for increasing the threshold for qualifying for TELS from 200 to 250 marks is to encourage students to work harder and increase the quality of education.

While delivering her response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Akbar says 16,661 students are currently studying under the TELS program while 2,525 students are studying under the National Toppers Scheme.

She says the government has allocated $35.5 million for the Toppers Scheme while $161.1 million has been set aside for the TELS program.

Akbar says the National Toppers Scheme has always addressed areas of need and this will continue however these will be subjected to revision depending on the COVID-19 situation and how it develops both locally and internationally.

While responding to Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka equating the reduction of the budget for the Ministry of Education to the reduction on the importance of education, Akbar reminded Rabuka that the FijiFirst government has educated more children than his government or any other government ever has.





Adimaitoga says Rabuka is a hypocrite for saying FijiFirst has run Fiji to the ground

By Faria Begum Ali
Monday 27/07/2020
Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs Selai Adimaitoga.

The Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs Selai Adimaitoga has called the Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka a hypocrite for saying FijiFirst has run Fiji to the ground.

Adimaitoga suggests that perhaps Rabuka is suffering from memory loss.

She says SODELPA even locked their supporters outside their Annual General Meeting saying it was because of social distancing. She says this is not Fijian like.

Adimaitoga says since COVID-19 reached our shores, it has felt like a rugby match adding that with the 2020/2021 National Budget we have scored an important try and are closer to victory.

She says the reduction of duty and taxes on the 1,600 items that was announced in the 2020/2021 Budget will help the people as times are tough and these items have become harder to purchase.




It was clear from the Minister for Economy’s speech that the cane price will come down – Bulitavu

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 27/07/2020
SODELPA parliamentarian Mosese Bulitavu

SODELPA parliamentarian, Mosese Bulitavu says it was clear from Minister for Economy’s National Budget speech that the price for a tonne of cane has decreased from $85 to $70.

Bulitavu has questioned why government had to reduce the cane price to $70 in the 2020/2021 National Budget and whether this has been done as government does not have money and is waiting for the money to come in.

Bainimarama had stated this morning that the government has promised cane growers a guaranteed price per tonne of 85 dollars for three full seasons. He says that promise will be delivered.

He says the first three payments of the third season will be paid at $70 per tonne, but in the fourth and final wash-up payment, they will make up the full amount of $85 per tonne, as they always do.

Bulitavu adds that there are inconsistencies in government’s policies where it has focused on 1,600 items where duty has been reduced as according to him these items are not consumed and used by people in rural areas.

Bulitavu further said that people in rural areas are suffering and monthly bus fare concessions for the elderly has been reduced to $10. He says one-way bus fare from Savusavu to Labasa is about $8 which means the elderly person will not be able to return home if they travel between these two destinations.

He says this kind of inconsistency policy needs to be reviewed to ensure things are done in a reasonable manner so that no Fijian is left behind.




Bulanauca links COVID-19 to satanic groups despite the WHO saying coronavirus came from an animal

By Semi Turaga
Monday 27/07/2020
SODELPA MP Mitieli Bulanauca

SODELPA MP Mitieli Bulanauca believes COVID-19 is not an act of God but is man-made by those satanic groups in the developed world to try to reduce the world population to try to relieve hunger and poverty.

Bulanauca has made this claim despite the World Health Organisation saying coronavirus came from an animal and was not made in a lab.

During the budget debate in parliament, Bulanauca says if something is wrong, we refer it to God.

He says don’t blame God and say it is an act of God.

Bulanauca says people just need to do their part according to God’s word, biblical values and principles.

He says the Fiji First government has forgotten about the Lord God, Jehovah.

Bulanauca says he believes that COVID-19 is translated to mean Certificate of Vaccination/Virus Identification and the 19 stands for Artificial Insemination.

This interpretation by Bulanauca is inaccurate according to the World Health Organisation which says COVID-19 is the acronym for the full name coronavirus disease of 2019.

He then went to quote Revelation Chapter 13, Verse 15 to 18 in the Bible which is about the number 666 as the mark of the Antichrist or a Beast. Bulanauca says coronavirus is equivalent to the number of the Beast which is 666.

Bulanauca also claimed that communism was allowed to come to Fiji through the 2006 coup.

He says this was unfortunate as our grandfathers went to the Solomon Islands and Malaya and fought not to allow communism in Fiji.

Bulanauca went on to propose that Fiji should close its Embassy in Beijing in China forever and said that a SODELPA government will open a mission in Jerusalem in Israel as a matter of urgency.

He says Israel is the chosen land and Jews are the chosen people of God in the Bible.




Government should focus its efforts on discussing with Fiji’s lenders for possible debt review and moratorium – Rabuka

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 27/07/2020
Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka

The Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka says the government should focus its effort on discussing with Fiji’s lenders for possible debt review and moratorium rather than wasting time on Trans-Tasman and Bula Bubble knowing too well that the borders will remain closed for a while.

While giving his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Rabuka says they would at least divert $700 million to $800 million to priority areas to help those that have lost their jobs through “work for cash programs” which has been used extensively when unemployment increases.

Rabuka says a whopping $1.6 billion is under requisition to incur expenditure adding this is a clear indication that one man is controlling all the funds and not the responsible agencies.

He has questioned in Parliament whether they really need to construct a new office for the Prime Minister when there are people in the country going hungry.

Rabuka says the timing is not right.

$7 million has been allocated for the construction of the new Prime Minister’s Office. The allocation is based on requisition.

Rabuka also told parliament that the allocation for government vehicles continues to increase and is now at $29 million. This is also under requisition.

He adds it is time they streamlined this expenditure.




Fiji’s smart borrowing has been widely endorsed - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/07/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji’s strategy of smart borrowing has been widely endorsed, including by the United Nations.

While speaking in the 2020/2021 National Budget Debate, Bainimarama says Fiji’s multilateral partners see the prudency behind all of the budgets.

The Prime Minister says these are institutions run by actual economists, with whole teams dedicated to reviewing our economy, and they trust Fiji. He says that is why they have stood with Fiji through this crisis.

Bainimarama says the Opposition can shut their eyes to these global realities all they want and the Prime Minister says he really does not care.

He says he puts his stock in the international economic experts over failed former professors.

The Prime Minister says anyone with eyes can see that every dollar of the well-structured, carefully targeted two-billion-dollar stimulus package in this budget has been allocated to save the economy, to serve people, to sustain jobs and to create new ones.

Bainimarama says the budget gives help where it’s needed most, granting $100 million in direct government unemployment assistance.

He says this assistance is allocated not only to those whose jobs have been lost but to those who are working on reduced hours.

Bainimarama then gave an example that he could announce there is a cure for COVID-19 but the Fiji Times will still have a front page story of Biman Prasad.

He says the newspaper company and the Opposition Leader keep talking about debt servicing payments but fail to highlight that the debts were mostly accrued prior to 2007.

Bainimarama says the social security they have built over the years remains, free education is funded, social welfare payments are being paid, subsidised transportation to school continues and free textbooks are paid for.

The Prime Minister says the government won’t be slashing the salaries of the civil servants they need to help put this economy back on its feet and to support the people who have suffered the most, much to the disappointment of Biman Prasad.

Bainimarama also says that the government has promised cane growers a guaranteed price per tonne of 85 dollars for three full seasons. He says that promise will be delivered.

He says the first three payments of the third season will be paid at $70 per tonne, but in the fourth and final wash-up payment, they will make up the full amount of $85 per tonne, as they always do.

Bainimarama also says they have provided nearly $300 million in direct support to cane farmers over the past seven years.




PM thanks Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and his team for putting forward a budget Fiji needs in this moment of challenge

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/07/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has today thanked the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and his team for putting forward a national budget Fiji needs in this moment of challenge.

While speaking during the 2020/2021 National Budget debate in parliament, Bainimarama says the Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka has been harping about bipartisanship but Rabuka is the one who brought racial differences in 1987.

The Prime Minister says they are poles apart as SODELPA preaches a divisive society, and are even fighting amongst themselves but showing as if butter would not melt in their mouth.

Bainimarama says the Opposition Leader does not seem to understand the measures and strategies put together to deliver the national budget.

The Prime Minister says Rabuka should wake up from his slumber and smell the coffee. He says organisations like the UN, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation have given a thumbs up to Fiji’s bold budget.

Bainimarama says if you have spent this pandemic locked in the Novotel and Holiday Inn he does not expect you to comprehend that greater, global picture that the world is facing.

He says you can’t take a view on this new era of economics when you can’t see further than your own party’s future, and your own rank and privilege. He says with regards to some supposed economists, he is not sure what excuse they have for the pathetic quality of their commentary on this budget.

Bainimarama says they have no problem debating policy as that’s the point of democracy. But he says what bothers him is that these people aren’t interested in well-intended debate. He says they aren’t even interested in reality, much less real analysis.

The Prime Minister says these are people who disturbingly have made full-time careers out of rooting for Fiji to fail. He says that is how they make their money and this crisis has exposed there are no lengths to which they won’t go and there are no lies they won’t tell to keep themselves in business.



Fiji’s smart borrowing has been widely endorsed - PM

Our promise to the cane farmers will be delivered – Bainimarama
By Vijay Narayan
PM-sm 

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji’s strategy of smart borrowing has been widely endorsed, including by the United Nations.

While speaking in the 2020/2021 National Budget Debate, Bainimarama says Fiji’s multilateral partners see the prudency behind all of the budgets.

The Prime Minister says these are institutions run by actual economists, with whole teams dedicated to reviewing our economy, and they trust Fiji. He says that is why they have stood with Fiji through this crisis.

Bainimarama says the Opposition can shut their eyes to these global realties all they want and the Prime Minister says he really does not care. He says he puts his stock in the international economic experts over failed former professors.

The Prime Minister says anyone with eyes can see that every dollar of the well-structured, carefully targeted two-billion-dollar stimulus package in this budget has been allocated to save the economy, to serve people, to sustain jobs and to create new ones.

Bainimarama says the budget gives help where it’s needed most, granting $100 million in direct government unemployment assistance.

He says this assistance is allocated not only to those whose jobs have been lost but to those who are working on reduced hours.

Bainimarama then gave an example that he could announce there is a cure for COVID-19 but the Fiji Times will still have a front page story of Biman Prasad.

He says the newspaper company and the Opposition Leader keep talking about debt servicing payments but fail to highlight that the debts were mostly accrued prior to 2007.

Bainimarama says the social security they have built over the years remains, free education is funded, social welfare payments are being paid, subsidised transportation to school continues and free textbooks are paid for.

The Prime Minister says the government won’t be slashing the salaries of the civil servants they need to help put this economy back on its feet and to support the people who have suffered the most, much to the disappointment of Biman Prasad.

Bainimarama also says that the government has promised cane growers a guaranteed price per tonne of 85 dollars for three full seasons. He says that promise will be delivered.

He says the first three payments of the third season will be paid at $70 per tonne, but in the fourth and final wash-up payment, they will make up the full amount of $85 per tonne, as they always do.

Bainimarama also says they have provided nearly $300 million in direct support to cane farmers over the past seven years.




PM should consider reallocating the Ministry of Economy to someone else, sack the Minister for Economy or take the portfolio himself – Rabuka

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 27/07/2020
Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

The Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka has suggested in Parliament that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should seriously consider removing the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum from managing government finances, or take the portfolio himself or better still, sack him because he is responsible for bringing the economy to its knees.

Rabuka made the comments while delivering his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget.

Rabuka says the Opposition has been raising the issue in the last 4 years that the economy is in recession adding this advice has been totally ignored and fell on deaf ears.

He says government revenue already had a major shortfall before COVID-19.

He has also termed the budget as a doomsday, irresponsible, rudderless and a deceiving budget.

Rabuka says the Minister for Economy blames them and Rabuka in person for the problems that exist now referring to things that happened more than three decades ago.

He adds the removal or reduction of tariffs for more than 1,600 items in the 2020-2021 National Budget is worrying and uncalled for to say the least.

Rabuka also says such reductions or removal of tariffs is often done with great care and consideration of its effect on local industries.

Rabuka says the national public debt has now reached epic proportions and it will bring the nation to its knees.

He further alleged that there have been manipulation of the budget figures in the past.

Rabuka has also suggested to the government to urgently consider convening a ‘National Summit’ where representatives of key stakeholders from different communities, civil society organizations can participate.

He says we need to consult and involve the private sector in our discussions to restore their confidence and trust.

Rabuka also says we need to establish a spirit of genuine dialogue and mutual respect for one another rather than consultation with a selected few like-minded people.

He says any selective approach will not work as we need to shift away from petty politics and obscurity which has been the hallmark of the government for so long.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to respond to the comments during his Right of Reply in parliament.


Government should focus its efforts on discussing with Fiji’s lenders for possible debt review and moratorium – Rabuka

Is there a need for a new PM’s Office – Opposition Leader
By: Naveel Krishant
11042814045f1e49a34d4d0860b598  

The Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka says the government should focus its effort on discussing with Fiji’s lenders for possible debt review and moratorium rather than wasting time on Trans-Tasman and Bula Bubble knowing too well that the borders will remain closed for a while.

While giving his response to the 2020/2021 National Budget, Rabuka says they would at least divert $700 million to $800 million to priority areas to help those that have lost their jobs through “work for cash programs” which has been used extensively when unemployment increases.

Rabuka says a whopping $1.6 billion is under requisition to incur expenditure adding this is a clear indication that one man is controlling all the funds and not the responsible agencies.

He has questioned in Parliament whether they really need to construct a new office for the Prime Minister when there are people in the country going hungry.

Rabuka says the timing is not right.

$7 million has been allocated for the construction of the new Prime Minister’s Office. The allocation is based on requisition.

Rabuka also told parliament that the allocation for government vehicles continues to increase and is now at $29 million. This is also under requisition.

He adds it is time they streamlined this expenditure.



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