Today, we are recognising the immense power within each person, irrespective of their abilities – and our differences that make us diverse.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Manoa Kamikamica stated this as we commemorate International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
He says the theme for the day in 2023 is “United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities”.
Kamikamica says Fiji is indebted to all our disability advocates including the late Dr. Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa, Frank Hilton and Joshco Wakaniyasi - disability champions whose valuable contributions have made a difference in the lives of countless disabled persons in Fiji.
He says they also acknowledge the technical assistance of Fiji’s disability service providers - Frank Hilton Organisation, Fiji Society for the Blind, Spinal Injuries Association who with the support of relevant Government Agencies and Development partners have ensured that lifelong support is provided for children living with disabilities.
The Acting Prime Minister says Fiji is one of the Pacific Island countries that has taken a lead in addressing disability-related issues and realising the rights of persons with disabilities prior to the United Nations conventions. He says the Fiji Government has provided a budget of $36.4 million which is spread across relevant ministries.
Kamikamica says in addition, the Coalition Government has increased this year’s budgetary allocation for the Disability Allowance Scheme managed by the Department of Social Protection to $16.3 million - the highest ever since the inception of this scheme.
He says all these Disability specific budget lines are to ensure that our persons living with disabilities are able to live a life of dignity with equal access to services as other ordinary citizens. The Acting Prime Minister says the inclusivity chapter under IPEF is the first of its kind in an international trade agreement.
Kamikamica adds it protects and promotes not only the rights of persons living with disabilities but also other disadvantaged groups such as women, children, indigenous peoples, rural communities and MSMEs.
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