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No Positive Highlights

ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE FIJI TIMES DATED 07/01/2020


GOVERNMENT debt will pass $6 billion in July, or $7000 for every citizen, claims National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.


Prof Prasad claimed the increase in Government debt, the high cost of living, deteriorating health and medical services, the decline of the education system and intermittent water and power cuts were the “highlights” of 2019.


Further hallmarks of the FijiFirst Government, he said, were high vehicle maintenance costs caused by potholed roads, high medication costs, no salary adjustments for civil servants and no increase in the minimum wage.


Prof Prasad said the “social, moral, political and economic decay” Fiji had witnessed in 2019 was “the beginning of the end of the failed two-man rule that has had a stranglehold on power for the last 13 years”.


He said 2019 had no positive highlights ” except for the rugby paddock when Fiji was crowned World Rugby Sevens Series Champions for the 2018-19 season — which was entirely an effort on the part of coach Gareth Baber and his squad of supremely talented players.”


The NFP leader claimed “there was abundantly clear evidence of an “Animal Farm” climate in Fiji where the law, rules and regulations, and delivery of service was applied differently to those in power and the rest of the nation including the Opposition.


“This is one of the most vindictive governments in the history of Fiji.


“They victimise people who are in any way associated with the Opposition. Even being seen together with opposition figures puts some people into difficulty — guilt by association.”


The NFP leader attacked the Government for refusing to work with the Opposition on national problems such as availability of hard drugs, the struggling sugar industry and deteriorating health and medical services.


He claimed “the consumption-driven economy is grinding to a halt and starting to plummet, causing severe hardship on the people”.


Prof Prasad also commented on the suspension from Parliament of NFP president Pio Tikoduadua after he was allegedly manhandled by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister, he said, had walked away from the incident freely, “while Mr Tikoduadua was penalised by Parliament and suspended for six months without any salary and parliamentary privileges for refusing to apologise for something he did not do.


“(Claims of) common and equal citizenry and calling everybody Fijian are meaningless if our people suffer daily from the problems and the disappointments that we have highlighted.


“Currently, in the Animal Farm like climate, the perception is that this Government is for the ‘haves’ while the ‘have-nots’ can wait.


“This must stop because if it does not, then we will be enveloped by severe inequality, nepotism, cronyism and elitism, exacerbated by dysfunctional laws and independent institutions”.