FijiFirst’s motions to remove $1m funding to Pacific Polytech defeated in parliament

FijiFirst’s motions to remove $1m funding to Pacific Polytech defeated in parliament

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 13/07/2023
Opposition MP Ketan Lal. [Image: Parliament of Fiji]

Separate motions to remove the $1 million funding to Pacific Polytechnic Limited has been defeated in parliament during the 2023-2024 national budget committee in supply.

Opposition MP Ketan Lal had moved a motion to increase the allocation by $2 million for University of Fiji which is currently getting $2.8 million.

He says $1 million can be taken away from Polytech and given to the local university.

Lal says it is important to support our students who are studying in the Western Division who are vulnerable and at the same time, create new programs for students instead of giving to new tertiary institutions like Pacific Polytechnic Limited.

He says they will be helping them in creating opportunities for more capital projects and providing better facilities for students and better lecturers.

The other motion involves increasing grants to Corpus Christi College, Fulton College, Monfort Technical Institute, Monfort Boys Town, Sangam Institute of Technology and Vivekananda Technical Centre by $100,000 each.

He says it is important that we support local institutions.

Lal says Monfort Technical, Corpus Christi and Fulton College student leaders have expressed the need for more facilities.

He says these colleges are also providing TVET education and rather than giving $1 million to Pacific Polytech Limited, these local higher education institutions can be given money and help them grow more.

Meanwhile, FijiFirst MP Jone Usamate suggested to increase the allocation to the Fiji National University by $1 million and to reduce the amount allocated to Pacific Polytechnic Limited by $1 million.

He says this is because FNU has a long record of doing technical training, has the facilities and the expertise while Pacific Polytech does not have those facilities and the kind of people needed to deliver the work needed.

He believes the best usage of $1 million is with the National Productivity Centre which has its training facilities all around Fiji.

While responding to Usamate, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says FNU is an important institution and the funding allocation is determined by the Fiji Higher Education Commission.

He says the institutions are recognized and registered by the government through the Commission.

Professor Prasad says the government has lost more that $25 million because of technical colleges set up by the previous government.

The Deputy Prime Minister says there are a number of players in technical education and we cannot rely on just one institution because we have a serious shortage in skills.

He says the employers are complaining and everybody wants competency based training.

While responding to Lal’s question on the number of programs at Pacific Polytech and if the Ministry has done an assessment on them, Minister for Education Aseri Radrodro says the assessment was done by the Fiji Higher Education Commission and the institute was registered in November last year.

He says they provide 8 programs at three campuses in Nausori, Tagitagi and Labasa and there is no duplication of programs provided by Polytechnic.

While responding to questions by Opposition MP Hem Chand, Radrodro also says that they are still in the process of transferring schools that were closed to Polytech.

Meanwhile, another motion by Lal to increase the allocation to FNU by $15 million has also been defeated.

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