Supplementary budget not solution
Monday 16th March 2020
Government’s policy management over the now pandemic coronavirus or COVID-19 does not inspire confidence amongst the people due to the Fiji First administration’s reactive measures, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said the people of Fiji have little confidence in government’s ability to deal with the situation should we have a positive case of coronavirus.
“The government is reactive and not proactive. It is now waking up from its slumber and recovering from its own internal party political battles to see what the rest of the world including one of the most important tourist markets New Zealand have done”.
“Government has no choice but to ban entry of cruise ships and further tighten its quarantine and isolation measures for would-be visitors and even its own returning residents because closing of borders by other nations will naturally affect our biggest industry (tourism)”.
“Last week, we heard conflicting reports from both the Health Ministry and the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited (FPCL) regarding the testing or otherwise of passengers disembarking from cruise ships that berthed at Suva and Lautoka ports”.
“Both cruise ships had passengers from many different countries. An English couple claimed they were not tested but just given advisories on how to maintain cleanliness. At the same time the Health Ministry said passengers were only tested if they showed COVID-19 symptoms while the FPCL said all measures and scrutiny is done on-board a cruise ship before it berths at the port”.
“This type of confusion and seemingly non-screening of all people arriving at ports of entry would be have avoided if both the Health Ministry and FPCL worked together cohesively to implement total compliance to a fool-proof policy”.
“Waiting for a so-called coronavirus supplementary budget – which we all know is in fact a desperate measure to prevent the spread of economic cancer caused by government’s mismanagement of the economy – is not the panacea to shut out COVID-19 from our shores”.
“Government must not wait for the implementation of the supplementary budget, which will only happen at the earliest in almost a month’s time, provided it is passed by Parliament on 9th April”.
“In any case, government says the supplementary budget is a response to coronavirus. So it is planning for the few months ahead until the end of the financial year on 31st July”.
“What is needed immediately is more than the piecemeal policies government is implementing and hoping it will stave off COVID-19”.
“It is to be proactive and pragmatic to boost the confidence of all our people in the ability of their government to ensure their daily routine and livelihood is not disrupted while staying safe from this pandemic”.