First, Mahendra Chaudhry criticized Fiji First for resting on its laurels on past performance (most of which he also criticized) and making no statement on future policies. Now, with the release of the FijiFirst manifesto, that spells out its future policies, Mahedra accuses it of vote-buying, unrealistic promises. He'd a hard man to please.
Party leader Voreqe Bainimarama said FijiFirst will continue the reforms of the current government by strengthening existing laws and introducing new ones. Most importantly, it will reduce the impact of inflation and the rising cost of living, focus on poverty alleviation and improving the lives of all Fijians.
The full manifesto can be read on the FijiFirst website www.ff.com .
Here are some of the party's promises:
- Increase the electricity subsidy for low income families from the current 75 kw to 85kw to provide immediate relief to thousands of households.
- Provide 91,250 litres of free water per year to Fijian households earning less than $30,000.
- Continue to control the price of basic food items such as rice, flour, potatoes, dhal, cooking oil and pharmaceutical and medical products.
- Continue to place zero VAT on powdered milk, rice, edible, oil, tin fish, flour and other items.
- Provide 250ml of milk a day to children enrolled in class 1 at all primary schools from term 1 next year at a cost of $2.5m.
- Provide free medications under price control if prescribed by a doctor for people earning under $20,000 a year.
- Extend the current free education for primary and secondary student to pre-school students from the beginning of the second term in 2015
- Extend the tertiary Education Loan Scheme.
- Develop state land for squatter settlements and Taukei land if approved by its owner, giving squatters security of tenure and the incentive to improve their housing.
- Provide more assistance to help Taukei develop their land.
- Increase employer FNPF contributions to 10% while keeping employee contributions at 8%.
- Take control of all fuel imports, arrange cheaper bulk purchases by tender, and sell on to fuel retailers.
With GDP growth at 4.6% surpassing the 3.6% forecast, more political stability and investor confidence following the elections, the economy looks well placed to help Government deliver on these promises.