PM's New Year Message
My Fellow Fijians,
Once again we are at the dawn of another year. It’s a time to reflect on the year that has passed and to contemplate what the future holds for ourselves and our families. And it’s also a time to reflect on our nation’s progress over the past 12 months and the hopes of all of us for the year ahead.
Together, we have weathered three separate natural disasters in 2012 - the two floods and then Hurricane Evan. Our thoughts this evening are with our fellow Fijians who are still suffering because of Hurricane Evan, and especially those made homeless by the destruction of hundreds of dwellings in the hurricane’s path. As your Prime Minister, I again pledge that your Government will do everything in its power to assist you to rebuild your homes and your lives.
I want to pay tribute to every worker, citizen, civil servant and business owner who worked tirelessly in the affected areas or provided assistance to help their fellow Fijians back on their feet. All of these people deserve our grateful thanks.
Vinaka vakalevu to you all.
As I toured the affected areas, I was deeply impressed with the spirit of our people as we pulled together as a nation to confront this crisis. We are all thankful that our careful preparations before Hurricane Evan struck meant that there was no loss of life.
My fellow Fijians. For all of our challenges and setbacks, I look to the New Year firmly believing that Fiji’s future has never been brighter.
We are a building a more equal society, a safer society, a prosperous society.
For the first time, we are all Fijians and can truly celebrate our common identity.We all have a great deal to look forward to.
As 2012 ends, more than half a million Fijians have registered by electronic means to cast their vote in 2014. As 2013 begins, that process continues as we reach out to register Fijians living overseas.
The new year heralds great promise for all Fijians.
Our economy is comparatively buoyant and a steady growth is forecast.
We are investing more in the education of our young people to help secure their futures and increase the country’s skills base.
And we are doing a lot more for poorer families, such as raising the tax threshold, and for the elderly, by providing pensions to the most vulnerable of them for the first time.
And in 2013, we will begin fixing our biggest infrastructure problem – the state of our roads.
As a nation, we want to instill more pride in our identity as Fijians.
We will soon begin using new notes and coins that feature our flora and fauna.
We should have a new, modern and enduring constitution by the end of the first quarter of 2013.
And I will be making further announcements this year about revamping our flag.
All of this is to reflect a sense of national renewal, to reinforce a new Fijian identity and a new confidence in being Fijian on the global stage.
Certainly, Fiji’s standing in the world has never been higher.