2016-17 Budget Debate: WHO SAID WHAT?

Members of parliament debated on the ‘2016-2017 Appropriation Bill’ which was moved for a second reading. Hon. Rosy Akbar – Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation AKBAR: “To date, a total of 3119 recipients from the Eastern Division and 6375 recipients from maritime areas had already been assisted under this ‘Help for Home’ initiatives after […]


July 5, 2016 10:08 am

Members of parliament debated on the ‘2016-2017 Appropriation Bill’ which was moved for a second reading.

Hon. Rosy Akbar – Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation

AKBAR: “To date, a total of 3119 recipients from the Eastern Division and 6375 recipients from maritime areas had already been assisted under this ‘Help for Home’ initiatives after TC Winston. All the budgeted programs would work to effectively deliver real opportunities for sustainable development alleviating poverty and promote social mobility.”

Hon. Josaia V. Bainimarama – Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs and Sugar Industry

BAINIMARAMA: “Consistency builds confidence and confidence builds investment and encourages people to create businesses. Madam Speaker we have spent 40 percent of the budget on capital works and this has been a consistent practice of this Government. Before 2006 Madam Speaker 85 percent of the budget covered operating costs.”

Hon. Parveen Kumar Bala – Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Infrastructure & Transport

BALA: “Many of our bridges are weak as the result of overloading and this will be taken care of the $4.5 million allocated for urgent repair of nine of the priority bridges. Madam speaker, we are working on maintaining and repairing our roads and bridges to last longer.”

Hon. Veena K. Bhatnagar – Assistant Minister for Health and Medical Services

BHATNAGAR: “Madam Speaker the ministry has done remarkably well in our efforts particularly in the swift deployment of medical teams to all affected areas during Tropical Cyclone Winston.”

Hon. Mosese Bulitavu

BULITAVU: “The 2016/2017 Budget appropriation for RFMF is $96,404,811, this is in addition to the allocation under Peacekeeping Missions of $78, 972,365 resulting in a total budget of $175,377,176. RFMF should be restructured and right sized. The cost of the Black Rock project and the allocation on rapid deployment to peacekeeping missions should be reviewed and rationalized.”

Hon. Joeli R. Cawaki – Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management 

CAWAKI: “Madam Speaker the Ministry for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management is in full support of the budget also on the emphasis that the budget has placed emphasis on priority areas which include education ,infrastructure,development and public utilities.”

Hon. Mohammed Dean

DEAN: “The Fiji Government has just ratified the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities and this bill is currently in the process of scrutiny and finalization by the standing committee of social affairs.”

Hon. Iliesa Delana – Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports

DELANA: “I am certain that this budget will continue to boost  national sporting activities, awareness and interest among Fijians. Madam Speaker Government support has enabled us to host the Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and Crusaders, Fiji is the first of all small developing island state to do so. It also displayed our passion for sports.”

Hon. Jiosefa Dulakiverata

DULAKIVERATA: “Madam speaker, I reiterate my call on the budget that the budget should contain transparency. Madam Speaker, how many of the people can get excess to the budget and it was just printed in the Fiji Sun sometimes earlier last week and this is after two weeks of the budget announcement.”

Hon. Lorna Eden – Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing, and Environment

EDEN: “We want to a resilience Fiji. This budget will reunite us and will have a resilient Fiji. I fully support the budget. Madam speaker with this new budget many low income earners will benefit from this budget.”

Hon. Viliame Gavoka

GAVOKA: “That is the elephant in the house,the disparity in any power between the native Fijians and everyone else. If we don’t address this Madam Speaker it will bring about a rift. Madam Speaker, these are serious issues as the Prime Minister said in his speech, we need to make hard decisions. We need a huge hospital in Nasinu and the people living in the Nasinu corridor is growing.”

Hon. Semesa Karavaki

KARAVAKI: “As long as there is justice many of this nation will benefit from. The drawing of the budget is for many to benefit from it and no one is left behind. I don’t know where this budget is standing because in some areas it is self-standing…with this new budget, there is no allocation to extend the run way of the Savusavu Airstrip. Many tourists take the airway route to Labasa and then catch a taxi from Labasa to Savusavu. It is costly, Why only many of the development is at the Denarau areas and why is that? Why are you only putting your focus in Denarau?.”

Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa – Leader of the Opposition

KEPA: “The decision by Government to change the financial year to the 1st of August 2016 to the 31st July of 2017…I would find it as self-serving. The name change, from the Minister for Finance to Minister of Economy and we only found after the distribution of the budget.”

“There is only five country with that title…and he holds nine portfolio’s and how will he handle the responsibilities in a year.”

“The Minister has cut the Health budget by $36million. They think it is acceptable to cut the budget with $36million. They poured so much in the Military budget and this is a militarized country.”

KILIRAKI: “Madam Speaker the impact of Brexit to our vulnerable economy which is so dependent on tourism on remittances, our rugby players on contract, trade agreements and sugar. These are important issues that the Government should readdress and take into serious consideration.”

“It is again noted  the minimum allocation to the fisheries sector to realize its full potential  and contributing to the economy and GDP let alone the reconstruction and recovery. Lack of expertise and technical support continues to limit the  work and implementation of  work demand from rural people.”

Hon. Semi Koroilavesau – Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations

KOROILAVESAU: “In 2017, we anticipate 27,000 workers in New Zealand and 1,000 workers in Australia under our seasonal work program. We also anticipate a forum employment opportunities in the United States of America and Canada…also, Madam Speaker under the National Employment Sector of the Fiji Volunteer Scheme has allocated $1.4 million to assist the employment of the retired teachers.”

Hon. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya – Minister for Industry, Trade, and Tourism

KOYA: “Madam Speaker I have one question does the opposition want the FijiFirst government to abandon the victims of TC Winston and neglect the Tourist of our society. Madam Speaker the FijiFirst Government will not neglect this and will be committed to its Fijian people. It is now upon me to correct the miss-information provided by the opposition. The opposition has not provided any ideas and solution to move the Fijian economy forward…”

Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola – Minister for Foreign Affairs

KUBUABOLA:  I note the part focus in the budget to try and bring our disabled people into the mainstream. This aspect of the national budget is to be commended. I also applaud the Minister for Economy for the public consultation to capture the views of the general public on the budget. I thank the Prime Minister for supporting Ambassador Peter Thomson’s campaign and our mission in  New York for their hard work.”

“Madam Speaker just before I sit down, I think I have a few minutes… I would like to pose a question to the Hournable Leader of Opposition and to my friends of the other side of the house, the SODELPA. How is it that you have a party leader from outside of the house?…by convention the party leader is always a member of Parliament.”

“Don’t you have people? I was excited to read in the papers the Hon. Kiliraki, the Hon. Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the Hon. Gavoka…names were being put out to be party leaders. By convention, if you look at parliaments all over the world, the party leader is always a member of parliament, that is just a question I would like to put to the Hon. Leader of Opposition.”

Hon. Jilila Kumar

KUMAR: “The 2016-2017 budget it is not a political budget but a loving and caring budget. I can go whole night talking about this budget. The 2016-2017 budget will enable people to enjoy life. A responsible government talks to its people through an inclusive budget. Therefore, I support the budget.”

Hon. Dr. Brij Lal

LAL: “The Prime Minister always said that this is the government always delivered and with this budget the government has achieved this. The budget provides the public with their basic need and therefore I support the budget.”

LEAWERE: “We are so fast in using schools as the evacuation center and yet to rebuilt schools, there is a slow response from the government. There are some schools that are still learning in tents. The government needs to rebuild schools so they can all have a good learning environment. My concern is also on that the government should have provided a transparency budget announcement. The government should also consider in providing teachers good teaching resources.  The government should also consider a pay rise of school teachers.”

Hon. Alvick A Maharaj

MAHARAJ: “I wish to thank the Minister for Economy for a people-centered budget. Thanks again to the Minister for Economy for speaking with the public about the budget. It takes guts to present such a budget. In 2016-2017 total of $94 million has been allocated to improve rural roads. In this year’s $45 million for rural roads, this shows how committed Fiji First is towards development, we need a government that performs rather than those people who talk more and work less.”

Hon. Ratu Suliano Matanitobua

MATANITOBUA: “Youths are important for the cycle of development. Government can employ youths. Youth groups should act as agents for gender equality. Madam speaker the $30,000 by the government for the gold medalists…I propose to the government $100,000. The 2016-2017 budget is not worth transcending as far as youth and sports is concerned.”

Hon. Alivereti Nabulivou

NABULIVOU: “We are blessed with many of natural resources which need to be of better use. I am so pleased to see that $1.8 million is allocated for re-structural and maintenance of bridges. The budget allocated to FRA will go a long way. This is the way the National building is also all about looking further for the betterment in the country.”

NADALO: “Madam speaker due to the geographical location of this densely populated areas it is only fitting that they benefit directly from the budget allocation of $6.3 million for upgrading of the Keiyasi Hospital, in other words, Madam Speaker after the completion of Keiyasi Subdivision Hospital this documentation will be recognized in the near future.”

Hon. Osea Naiqamu – Minister for Fisheries and Forests

NAIQAMU: “Madam speaker, I would like to thank the Fijian government for an ecological budget. Fiji Forestry is crucial due to natural hazard. Madam speaker, $1.4million has been allocated for the renovation of Fiji’s Ecological Laboratory in Colo-i-Suva.”

“The Department of Fisheries is allocated of $13.2 million and there is also a budget allocated to repair damages done by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Madam Speaker $7million is allocated to repair the Rotuma Ice Plant. Madam Speaker $4.8m is allocated for Aquaculture. Madam speaker, with this new budget Fiji, will be stronger and Fiji will have a better future.”

Hon. Ratu Sela Nanovo

NANOVO: “The budget can be said as the biggest ever budget to be presented by any Fiji Government today. The total revenue Madam Speaker is $3175.3million and the expenditure side of it is $3643.3million counting the estimated net deficit of 4.7 percent of the GDP.”

“Why such a big budget Madam Speaker? and to that as the Honorable Minister for Finance put it, that it was to have a broad economic base and an increased deficit is an investment to return Fiji from the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.”

NATH: “Madam speaker, $2.4 million is allocated to provide shipping to outer islands. $4000,000 has been allocated to provide electricity to houses in Lakeba. The meteorological service has also been allocated a large sum of money to set up a media unit.”

Hon. Timoci Natuva – Minister for Immigration, National Security, and Defence

NATUVA: The Ministry of Defence has been allocated $8.6million. This allows the ministry to provide services. $3.2million is allocated for the Ministry headquarters. The Department of Immigration is provided with $5.4million and this also allows them to provide their services. There is an increase of the budget allocated to the Ministry compared to the budget last year. $900,000 has been allocated to a new Nakasi Police Station.”

“$1.4 million has been allocated to reconstruct Police Stations damaged during Tropical Cyclone Winston. $35,000 has been allocated for solar powers to those that lives in maritime areas like Rabi. There is also a budget allocated for the new passport that will be used by our soldiers who are deployed in Sinai doing peacekeeping works.”

Hon. Niko Nawaikula

NAWAIKULA: “Madam Speaker I am the shadow minister for housing and local government, I need to clarify  some of the statements made by my counterpart earlier. He said initially that Nabouawalu, Seaqaqa, and Keiyasi  are part of the budgeted development next year, I can assure this house that this is wrong and the $1million set aside was not for Nabouwalu.”

“He also said that the rural water supply was neglected  by previous governments but I can say here that twelve of   the sixteen villages that I have visited previously complained about the neglect of the Government and the provision of water.”

NIUMATAIWALU: “This government is putting a lot of money in sports and this is a good initiative done by the government. Sport is a good initiative for the development of any country. It is good to agree to host any sports event because a lot of money stays in the country. I would like to thank the Bainimarama government for setting aside money to host big event and it is not a wonder the Fiji 7’s team is doing well.”

Hon. Alexander O’Connor

O’CONNOR: “Madam Speaker I rise to support the increase in the exercise of duty tax on sugar, sweetened drinks, cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol as announced in the 2016-2017 budget recently. Madam Speaker allow me to begin by saying that over 50 percent of Fijians are unaware of an epidemic that is gripping the nation, that epidemic Madam Speaker is Non-Communicable Diseases commonly known as NCD’s. Around eight percent of deaths are caused by an NCD each day, almost three-quarters of Non-Communicable Disease deaths occur in a low and middle and income bracket.”

Hon. Viam Pillay

PILLAY: “Madam Speaker, I rise to support the budget. People with special needs need to be treated with special needs. The Fijian government is making sure that people with special needs is looked after. The 2016-2017 budget has put on forward a new measure to look after the people with special needs and therefore I Madam Speaker, I support the 2016-2017 budget.”

RADRODRO: “I was looking forward to a budget that will reduce the burden of VAT on our people. Rather than doing this the government intended to increase VAT, for example, an increase of VAT on beer and cigarettes. I do not know why is the government doing this, maybe because of the rise of the non-communicable of disease. The cost of living Madam Speaker is now expensive Madam. The cost of root crop is high, the government should remove the VAT on basic food items.”

“Now, people have to pay a residential VAT, the rent of houses is now expensive and people have to stay further away from Suva and to make it sad those university students whose paying a huge sum of money for their rent. The government has a huge debt to pay and yet they tend to borrow from other foreign countries. The Hon. Minister for Finance said the poor road of conditions is due to poor government and this is true for the Fijian government since they have been ruling for nine years.”

“Madam Speaker in 2014 there was a budget allocated to do work on the Vatuwaqa and Stinson Parade bridge. Madam Speaker does the budget reach the Fiji Roads Authority and there is also delay works on the Naitasiri bridges. Madam speaker, the Denarau budget was received later…yet we start to visibility work on the Denarau bridges. The Vatuwaqa and Stinson Parade bridges received the budget two years ago. Yet the Stinson Parade  remains closed and Vatuwaqa bridges remain open to one lane

“I am not supporting the budget and I leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin who said, “I’d rather go to bed without dinner than to rise up in debt.”

Members of Parliament this morning resumed the debate on the second reading of the ‘Appropriation Bill’.

Hon. Salote Radrodro

RADRODRO: “The budget does nothing but drives Fiji further down the road. The budget does nothing to ease the pain. The poor will continue to suffer due to the 9% on basic food items. Why bringing back the 9% on basic food items. The government has lost its way. The government has made nothing but unfilled promises. The Nawanawa people are still asking for their ‘rara’ or playing ground which was promised in the 2015-2016 budget.”

“Where are the free medicines that the government promised?. The budget has no vision, has no focus and no direction. It has been five months after the TC Winston people are still living in tents. What are the government doing?”

Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy – Minister for Education, Heritage, and Arts

REDDY: “Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts received an allocation of $448.5 million in the 2016-2017 Budget. 20% of the 2016-2017 budget is allocated to Education…Madam, it is good to see that people start to see the importance of Education.”

“There was false remark given by Aseri Radrodro in the last parliament sitting, Madam speaker. He said there are 85,000 students that are still learning in tents…which is incorrect. There are only 4,484 students studying in tents.”

“There is $1million allocated for maintenance work that was affected during TC Winston. Madam speaker, the opposition side say that we have not given any assistance to Kadavu and which is false Madam Speaker…a total value of assistance we have given to Kadavu schools is $559,000.”

Hon. Netani Rika

RIKA: “Madam Speaker I rise to support the budget…discussion of the change financial year started in December last year also through the meeting held with the World Bank and the bill was tabled and voted forward by the August house.”

“Madam Speaker we understand that changes will take time to be accepted by some because they are so used to a routine that is embedded in their system, change is inevitable. We should view change as a positive thing that will always bring about new ideas in order to improve on the old ways of doing things particularly to be in tune with the changing times.”

Hon. Inia Seruiratu – Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management

SERUIRATU: “I support the intention of the budget. Madam Speaker recovery takes time and resources is needed. The government is thankful for all non-governmental organisation, organisation and other foreign countries for their effort and their assistance during rehabilitation work.”

“The Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated a total of $74million in the National Budget Madam Speaker. Sugar, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Madam Speaker are pillars of Fiji’s economic growth and major sectors of employment for the Fijian people.”

The allocation $17.1million is provided to support rehabilitation methods for non-sugar sectors as part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s allocation of $74 million. Madam Speaker, in addition, we have also received direct budgetary support of $2 million from the European Union for rehabilitation of the entire agriculture sector including sugar cane conservation and processing. The pledged amount of $23 million by the European Union will be earmarked for projects such as rehabilitation of sugarcane, livestock, crops and agriculture-related infrastructure.”

Hon. Balmindar Singh

SINGH: “Madam Speaker Government is committed to deliver the expected outcome by voicing a wide range of employment reforms. Indeed it is an inclusive budget with government’s commitment to services to all Fijians. Once you start replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts you will get positive results.”

SINGH: “The 2016-2017 budget falls short of its values, with the new budget the country’s debt will continue to increase…I don’t know why there is a huge sum of money being allocated to Fiji Roads Authority. What is it positive output and is it productive?. How much has been used so far for management? What is the justification? Has it created employment, as the government continues to assist a lot of money to Fiji Roads Authority, as the country continues to be in huge debt.”

Hon. Ashneel Sudhakar – Government Whip

SUDHAKAR: “We Fijians are fortunate to have the Fiji First government who did not drag their feet but sprung into action. Our Fiji First government is a government of compassion. The Opposition might call it a political gimmick but ask the people who have a roof above their head and are safe from the rain. This is not just about dollars and cents this is about our people…with these words, I pledge my support for the budget and I urge my honorable members to do the same.”

Hon. Ratu Isoa Tikoca

TIKOCA: “This budget is an empty one. Fiji just currently enlisted the role of Ministry of Economy which means everything under the umbrella of economy will be under the Minister for Economy. There is a huge budget allocated for our soldiers who are doing peacekeeping duties in Sinai. Deputy Speaker, it is the United Nation that is supposed to pay for our deployed soldiers. Now, our taxpayers are paying for these soldiers who are deployed for peacekeeping duties. I do not support this empty budget. Thank you”

TUITUBOU: “Hon Deputy Speaker, I am excited that the 2016-2017 budget provides a range of initiatives and that Government provides young Fijians and supports their need to stand on their own two feet and absorb the skills they will need for employment. Hon Deputy Speaker to this respect my ministry continues to broaden its cooperation with other ministries across Government to strengthen and coordinate services that are offered to young people.”

Hon. Jone Usamate – Minister for Health and Medical Services

USAMATE: “I’d like to address initially some of the comments that have been made during the course of this debate. One of the comments that was made by members of the other party was that the Government on this side lacks vision, that perhaps this budget does not have a theme. I’d like to say this is false understanding of what Government is all about. Our vision on this side of the house is very clear.”

Hon. Anare Vadei

VADEI: “The Minister for Economy controls 50% of the budget and may I must say that he is a control freak. Mr Deputy speaker, as I spoke to the increase of doctors and it was not a joke of their pay increase and we wonder how this pay increase came about and all health pay increase should be inclusive. Mr Deputy speaker, I recommend that there should be a job evaluation in the health sector.”

“Mr Deputy Speaker, I will now focus on health care because there is poor service delivery. Mr Deputy speaker, people will have to wait for hours to see a doctor or a nurse. Mr Deputy Speaker, more resources should be given to divisional hospital to make sure that the hospital is kept clean and there is a good hygiene. There is an urgent need for a hospital in the Suva to Nausori corridor so it can carter the number of people that lives in the corridor.”

“Health is a fundamental right, investing in health is investing in health future. Free tuition fee on medical should be available to our students. Why not adding some more money to the budget, to provide free tuition to our youths, as they are our future?.”

“I recommend that the budget should be given in brain rather than the sign language. This government is making a lot of false promises. The Minister for Agriculture said there are no resources yet the government has $2.3million to host a rugby tournament and $9 million is for golf.”

Hon. Samuela Vunivalu

VUNIVALU: “Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir all opposition members are not supporting the budget and yet they are still demanding and asking the Government to do this and that. How can the Government of the day entertain one group that does not support the budget, I hope they will support the budget”

Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa – Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources

VUNIWAQA: ” Mr Deputy Speaker I support this budget as it is well balanced. The budget is the government’s key role to help the vulnerable in the society. Mr Deputy Speaker, the Ministry is allocated with a budget of $31million which allows the Ministry to carry its co-function.”

“I am happy what the Ministry is allocated with the budget. There are some areas there has been an increase of where the budget is allocated…like the informal settlement development and there is also budget allocated for proper earthquake reading.”

“$260,000 is allocated for an aerial survey. This will allow for survey and assessment and this will also allow police to carry out their works like for drug raids. $2.7 million is allocated to continue for development and vacant land. $300,000 has been allocated for regulations of lands.”

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “Normally providing a response is providing clarification on many of the issues that have been raised in fact Deputy Speaker I do not know where to start from, given the pathetic level of performance from the other side of the house Deputy Speaker. They have come to this debate and have personally attacked me, they have orchestrated figures, they have made a big shenanigan about economy, they have personalized matters.”

“Hon Tikoca who’s not here read out the names of selective people because they are of the Muslim faith he forgot to mention the names of other people of other faiths from other ethnicities, he selectively did that. Why? I’ll tell you why, because he reared his 1987 head again lead by the leader of their party who is sitting outside this parliament and unfortunately Hon. Deputy Speaker the Hon. Leader of the Opposition who’s inside this parliament also joined the fray for personalizing matters. Saying that I control a judiciary,the DPP’s office, the DPPO issued a press statement, there’s absolutely no control on these independent offices.”

“They used R.I.E’s (Requisition to Incur Expenditure) to say that I control that, R.I.E has been a feature of the budgetary system of Fiji since independence, yet they have chosen to do that. It is a pathetic display of the level of debate that is being shown and the intellect that is being shown. Deputy Speaker and I can tell you the people of Fiji are sick and tired of this, they are sick and tired of the Opposition constantly running into this fray of ethnicity. Hon. Usamate has pointed out rather than focus on the issues.”

“They have the audacity to tell us to stick to the budget when three-quarters of all their submissions were on non-budget issues…was on misrepresentations, that is what happened. Hon Deputy Speaker the reality is this, their debate entirely crumbles into personalization of matters, their entire response crumbles into them having small little constituencies.”

“The entire Electoral System of the Fijian Elections System set out in the Constitution is about all of us and concerns every single Fijian irrespective of where they live.”

“They want to run a modern nation state yet at the drop of a hat they would start dividing us. The audacity of the leader of NFP to say that we are here playing the race card, how can that be Hon. Deputy Speaker?.. this shows the logic or the lack that exists on the other side of the house.”

“Let me read out countries that also have Ministry of Economy, Slovinia, Israel, Lithuania, Spain, Hungary, Cook Islands, Japan, Ukraine, Netherlands, Georgia, Ontario, Slovakia Republic…Hon. Deputy speaker, the Hon. Leader of Opposition did not read out these names, the Hon. Whip of the Opposition did not read out these names.”

“The selective use of information to steer the debate in a very obscured manner and so the people of Fiji must know what they are doing. Let me also point out Hon. Deputy speaker the kind of inconsistencies that came out from the other side. The reality is that none of the other governments cared today this government is going into areas Hon. Whip laid out how we are going to Kadavu, how we are going to other parts of Fiji, interior of Naitasiri.”

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hon. Ruveni Nadalo ruled that pursuant to standing order 99-3 the ‘2016-2017 Appropriation Bill’, bill number 35 of 2016 as been read for the second time and without any questions, refer the bill and the estimates to the ‘Standing Committee of Supply’.

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