Politics

31st July

Ratu Suliano: “An election campaign budget’

Opposition member of Parliament Ratu Suliano Matanitobua says the 2021-2022 National Budget was a betrayal of the mandate given to Government by those who voted them in. In his contribution to the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill,...

Waqanika raises concerns on Bill 17

Removing consent with regards to mortgages and other legal instruments does remove red tape, but only for the benefit of the lessee and financier, not the landowner. Opposition MP Tanya Waqanika made the comment in Parliament in relation to Government’s proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act or Bill No.17. “The legal concern that...

Lynda tells PM to take heed of anrgy emojis

Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should take heed of the angry emojis and abusive remarks levelled at him during his contribution to the 2021-2022 budget in Parliament this week. “The Government has obviously missed the most important point of communication which is defined as an exchange of information,” Ms Tabuya said...

COVID-19 has seriously battered tourism industry, says Lal

Tourism is Fiji’s biggest foreign exchange earner and has been seriously battered by the COVID pandemic. Government backbencher Virendra Lal said the crisis had also taken a significant toll on people not only in Fiji but all across the globe. “This pandemic has viciously brutalised our economy and dealing with the unexpected problems caused by...

MP Gavoka wary of Bill

The amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act or Bill No.17 will result in leased iTaukei land being mortgaged to the hilt by banks, and banks controlling the land. This was the stern warning by Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Viliame Gavoka during the debate on the Bill in Parliament yesterday. He said he had...

Article on laws governing native land flawed – PM Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says an article on laws governing native land penned by renowned lawyer and former High Court judge Graham Leung in The Fiji Times on Thursday was “flawed”. In the article, Mr Leung said “Generally, in making new laws, the Government does not need to consult anyone. But it should be noted...

Seruiratu: ‘Politics thrive on rumours’

Politics in Fiji thrives on rumours of fear and feared rumours, says Minister for Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu. He made the comment yesterday in support of the amendment iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940 that was later passed by Parliament. “Where are these fears coming from, from us politicians when we are not revealing...

‘Please listen to our plea’

All Opposition parliamentarians who objected to the iTaukei Land Trust Amendment Bill 2021 in Parliament yesterday said they were concerned Government did not consult landowners before seeking to amend the law on native land. Opposition Leader Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu pleaded with Government to hold thorough discussions with landowners on the Bill. “Please just listen to...

A-G: Land value to improve; Bill 17 to benefit iTaukei

Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there needs to be a holistic approach to understanding how the value of land will be improved under the amendment made to the iTaukei Land Trust Act. “The Bainimarama Government and the FijiFirst Government under our prime minister have never justified the permanent alienation of land for economic development,” he...

Villagers still ‘in the dark’ about changes

Members of the Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee say landowners need to be consulted on any matters relating to their land, whether the developments benefited them or not. Villagers affiliated with the committee said they were observing a peaceful protest and called on Government to consult with them about the intentions of Bill No.17 because they...

Land Bill debate – Naidu: Change the administration, don’t change the law

There is a big difference between State land and iTaukei land, says prominent Suva lawyer Richard Naidu. During an online discussion on Thursday, he said Government’s main mistake in their proposed amendments to the State Lands Act and iTaukei Land Trust Act was treating the two different types of land with the same “fix”. Mr...

29th July

COVID-19 crisis in Fiji is not going to end in October, says Prof Biman

The COVID-19 crisis is not going to end in October even if Fiji achieves its vaccination target, says National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad. During a debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Monday, he said people would continue to fall ill and lives would continue to be lost even if inoculation...

Budget allocation for election

There are interesting times ahead for the Fijian Elections Office as they prepare for the general election, particularly with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament yesterday. He made the statement while responding to SODELPA member of Parliament Ro Filipe Tuisawau’s queries on a $23.1 million allocation –...

Sugar Ministry welcomes budget allocation

Fiji’s Ministry of Sugar Industry has commended Government for providing a positive and innovative 2021-2022 National Budget in challenging times. Assistant Minister for Sugar George Vegnathan said the $72.2 million allocated to the ministry, which was an increase of $7.3 million from the previous budget, would enable the sugar sector to maintain sustainability and continue...

Tuisawau calls for enquiry into handling of pandemic

The reality of COVID-19 in Fiji is that major hospitals are full, the conditions of temporary field hospitals need to improve, test results are misplaced, telephones are not answered, front liners are getting sick and tired, mortuaries are full, reports of bodies misplaced or missing, and deaths are left unattended at hospitals for hours. This,...

Help are not freebies, says Minister Usamate

Members of the Opposition have referred to what the Government does as “freebies” and this implies that people getting the assistance do not really need it, says Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources Jone Usamate. “Are they suggesting that we do not provide food rations, that we do not subsidise water and...

Ro Filipe: Government using ‘bulldozing’ tactics

Opposition MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau yesterday attacked the Government for undermining iTaukei institutions, saying the “bulldozing” of Bill 17 was a clear example. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ro Filipe said the Government saw cultural institutions such as the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) as “threats which undermine the State”. “The removal of the GCC is...

Qereqeretabua: TLTB Board silent on proposed amendment

National Federation Party MP Lenora Qereqeretabua told Parliament she was amazed by the silence of the board of the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) in relation to the proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act. During debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament this week, she said she was also amazed that TLTB...

A-G: Fiji’s debt level projected to increase to $9bn

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji’s deficit for the 2021-2022 financial year was projected at 16.2 per cent of GDP and debt expected to rise to $9 billion or 91.6 per cent of GDP. However, he said by adopting a very conservative revenue estimation strategy, actual debt could be lower than projected if borders reopened...

Saiyed-Khaiyum: Bill 17 designed to attract investment

Bill No. 17 is designed to attract investment by improving the ease of doing business, says Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “Suffice to say Bill 17 does not take away the right of any landowner or landowning unit to authorise the giving of lease, it does not reduce the amount of lease money the...

Fiji PM’s $175k travel allocation unnecessary, says MP Tabuya

The $175,000 set aside in the 2021-2022 National Budget for the Prime Minister’s overseas travel is unnecessary because international travel is not permitted during this COVID-19 pandemic, SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya told Parliament yesterday. She highlighted this issue when the Parliamentary Committee of Supply was debating programs under the proposed budget. “This is unnecessary because there...

MP Biman: Waste of money; $3bn lost through ‘wastage, pilferage and inflated project costs’

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad says $3billion has been lost through “wastage, pilferage, inflated projects costs and mismanagement in government spending” over the past six years. “As I have said in the previous session of Parliament, talking about Government spending, our estimate showed that under this Government in the last six years –...

MP Waqanika: Blame of COVID deaths in Fiji squarely falls on Government

The Fijian Government has diverted the blame of deaths on people refusing to be vaccinated, when the blame squarely fell on them for not taking heed of wise counsel. SODELPA MP Tanya Waqanika said this while contributing to the 2021-2022 National Budget in Parliament, which she said was completely reliant on a vaccination campaign that...

A-G: Parliament paid out $765k in political party grant

Parliament paid out $765,000 in political party grant to political parties in the last financial year, says Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He was responding to queries from Opposition why allocations in the budget for independent bodies such as Parliament were reduced. He said the budget allocation for Parliament had decreased by $1.5...

A-G: Government not responsible for Fiji Mahogany Trust reports

Government is not responsible for Fiji Mahogany Trust reports, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament yesterday when the Parliamentary Committee of Supply was deliberating programs in the 2021-2022 National Budget. He said this while answering queries from SODELPA Leader Viliame Gavoka on why the trust was allocated $250,000 in the budget. Mr...

28th July

Fiji’s Education Ministry to focus on rebuilding schools

The Education Ministry will spend $20 million from its $704.6 million allocation in the 2021-2022 budget and $8m from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the reconstruction of schools. This, according to Education Minister Rosy Akbar during debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Monday. “Even during this pandemic, this...

Tough decisions in budget – PM Bainimarama

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the 2021-2022 budget “did not shy away from tough decisions”. During debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Monday, he said budgetary allocations have been reduced across all his portfolios. “The same goes across Government and these cuts to expenditure come as no surprise,” he said. “We...

$442.9m for operational needs for Fiji’s Education Ministry

Fiji’s Education Minister Rosy Akbar says of the $704.6million allocated to the education sector in the 2021-2022 budget, $442.9m was for the ministry’s operational needs, $71.4m was for operation grants to higher education including the three universities and seven TVET institutions. During debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Monday, she said $159.6m...

MP Ratu Naiqama asks Government to explain tax revenue projection

Opposition Leader Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has called on Government to explain how $1.6billion in tax revenue could be collected when the economy had further contracted this year, and was likely to remain subdued throughout the 2021-2022 financial year. “As per the data presented in the estimates, the revenues projected for 2021/22 is expected at 77...

MP Bulanauca quizzes decrease in allocation

Opposition parliamentarian Mitieli Bulanauca questioned Government over the reduction in the Agriculture Ministry’s allocation from $65.7 million last financial year to $62m in the 2021-2022 budget. He made the comment during debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Monday. Mr Bulanauca said the reduction “shows the low priority that the FijiFirst Government or...

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