Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says if they could not find the money to fund the Government when they came into office last year, they would not have been able provide the basic support that the economy needed to grow.
While speaking at the launch of Professor Wadan Narsey’s four volumes of community articles at USP, Laucala Campus, Professor Prasad says that when the coalition government came into office last year, they inherited some serious economic and social challenges and one of them was the financial challenge where the government was underfunded.
Professor Prasad says government assets and facilities were falling apart for lack of maintenance and even the hospitals were in their worst state for generations.
He says it was worse, with a sky-high debt-to-GDP ratio of about 90 percent, the government was financially hamstrung and there was no money.
Professor Prasad says the people were tired of living in fear and suffering the whims of an unaccountable government that just did whatever it wanted, without regard to the law, without regard to the rights of others and where only the Government could be right and everybody else was wrong.
He says even the independent news media faced daily threats and anyone who criticised the government faced arrest or prosecution.
He says politically, we are a different country now, but economically and socially, we will continue to struggle for a while.
He further says too many people find that their incomes cannot match rising prices.
The Deputy PM says the government is still some distance from delivering good health and education outcomes and says there are still potholes in the roads and problems with our power and water and these are issues that will take the government longer to fix but this coalition government is determined to address these problems.
He says they want to fix these problems differently as they want to work with everyone, in consultation with others, with an openness to alternative ideas.
He adds every exchange is an opportunity to learn and they want people to understand that public policy is their property and that they can make a difference in how their government works for them.
While speaking on Professor Narsey’s books, he says they are a record of some of the most important contributions in the last 30 years to Fiji’s public debate.
Professor Prasad says the former Government applied financial pressure on USP to force Professor Narsey out which is something we should remember as one more example of the intolerance and pettiness Fiji lived under during the tenure of the former government.
You can get the books at the USP Book Centre.
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