News and Comments Wednesday 23 July

NFP LAUNCHES ITS MANIFESTO. Party leader Dr Biman Prasad told a packed Kshatriya Hall in Suva on Monday night that if elected to government, the party would "work through the devolution of powers and financial resources to revitalise the Fijian administration as the primary tier of governance for iTaukei land, natural and cultural resources with 100 days of being in government." The party said it respects the special place of Taukei but would govern for all Fijians, and not favour any one ethnic group.

It would increase the availability of land for agricultural purposes through a master lease concept (calling current government's efforts "confused"), create more decent jobs, increase productivity, and immediately reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 15%  to 10.

The party would provide free, quality education, including help for  children with disabilities and more funding for scholarship for students from underprivileged families.

Pensions would be increased, the retirement age restored to 60, and the $2 minimum wage reviewed. Guidelines would be established on child labour.

The party would remove restrictions in the Conduct of Political Parties and Electoral decrees; repeal repeal the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree and amend the Administration of Justice Decree to restore full collective bargaining rights and access to justice for workers and trade unions, including police and prison officers.

The Fiji Broadcasting coverage noted that the NFP will continue some government policies such as the increase in per-capita grants for schools, free bus fares, and  the national toppers scholarship scheme. It will, however, change the minimum mark benchmark for scholarships.

The manifesto promises to  review the entire health sector, and expects to see the the lower VAT intake will result in economic growth of about 5% generating $1 billion a year

The party will also seek a review of the constitution, looking particularly  at the powers of the AG and the PM, and the parliamentary process. It will also engage with others who want the Great Council of Chiefs restored.

LARGE MULTI-RACE TURNOUTS FOR FIJIFIRST Fiji Sun's Jyoti Pratibha observes that racial mix was a prominent feature of FijiFirst meetings in the West where, at one meeting, 1,200 people crammed into Tavua's Kshatriya Hall.

Bainimarama told the rest who were left standing outside or at the back of the hall to join him and his team on the podium.

SODELPA WANTS BAINIMARAMA NZ VISA REFUSED.  The PM's intention to visit NZ  next month has received a mixed reception. The NZ Labour Party and the Coalition for Democracy Fiji welcome the idea but the interim president of SODELPA's New Zealand arm, Sai Lealea, says the visa request "should be refused and people from Fiji in New Zealand are already voicing their objections, and will protest if his planned trip goes ahead." Foreign Minister Murray McCully will not say if Bainimarama will be allowed into New Zealand next month to campaign in democracy-restoring elections, despite lifting travel sanctions in March. Bainimarama is understood to be preparing to leave for Australia on August 8 for a similar FijiFirst campaign visit among Fijians there

FORMER FLP MP BATS FOR PDP. Vijay Singh speaks out.

. FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry told about 40 people at their campaign meeting at Riverside road Narere  Labour  will set up a National Service Scheme for all those who are unemployed after completing their studies if the FLP forms the next government.

WHY SUPPORT THE GCC? Addressing 600 people in Ba on Monday PM Bainimarama  said he could not understand why essentially Indo-Fijian parties supported the return of the Great Council of Chiefs, though he fully understood SODELPA's purpose.

The other political parties are claiming the 2013 Constitution that they are criticising was put together by the government for FijiFirst. This was not so, he said.  But the Constitution did guarantee equal citizenry, irrespective of race, something the GCC was never interested in.

REDUCING VAT... According to the  A-G, reducing Value Added Tax (VAT) from 15 to 10%, as the NFP proposes, will not greatly affect food prices as many people may believe because most  basic food items like flour, sharps, rice, powdered milk, tea and cooking oil are already VAT free. Government has tried to keep household costs down by other measures such as increasing the income tax thresold, assistance with tuition and free bus fares.

...AND THE FOREIGN RESERVE. Responding to comments by former PM Laisenia Qarase about the poor state of Fiji's economy, Sayed-Khaiyum said foreign reserves under Qarase  were $300 million dollars in 2006. They are now $1.5 billion.

FOUR MORE NFP CANDIDATES.  Economist, Dr. Sunil Kumar, Fiji Taxi Association General Secretary, Rishi Ram, retired civil servant Inia Tamani and Amrit Nath.


Anonymous said...

Promises, promises and more promises. I have seen it all. It will all come to nothing as soon as these morons go into parliament.

Anonymous said...

Not all Fijians in New Zealand are against Frank going there to campaign. Only NZ Sodelpa are against it. Most other Fijians want him to go. Sai Lelea saying that Fijians in NZ are against it insinuates that it's all Fijians.

Anonymous said...

Defintely NZ Sodelpha is only a fraction of Fijians living in NZ (those that can vote). And who is Sai Lelea?

Anonymous said...

Sai Lialia is just as his name suggests...a LIALIA

Anonymous said...

Name calling again. Here we go.

Anonymous said...

Sai Lealea is from the same island (Vanua Balavu) and a relo of Qarase. Of course, as a one-eyed Lauan he would support Qarase to the hilt. The 'So Help Me God Party' is essentially a Lauan political party that has been able to capture the support of their 'tau vu' from Burebasaga...none other than the scalp of Mrs Kepa. We in Fiji know this. Sai Lealea and his ilk should come back to Fiji and engage in the contest of ideas...not keep barking like a dog from some secure compound knowing they will not be challenged to a fight. Sai Lealea, Suli Dauniveidulu etc...etc are all the same

Anonymous said...

Talking of ideas--I believe there is suggestion by some tongan minister that Lau be given to them in exchange for Minerva reef. An excellent idea I think. They will gradually take over Tonga and have all the Tongan nobles bowing to them like they have done in Fiji. The chiefs on Vitilevu never seem to get tired of Bowing to these idiots of Tongan descent. When Mara ruled everything went to Launs--education ,money, development, govt posts etc,, Sai lealea is most likely to be recipient of this political largesse,