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NFP leader invites PM to debate


Mar 30, 2014 11:18:12 AM

NFP leader invites PM to debate Fiji’s National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad has challenged the head of the Fijian Government, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to a debate in the lead up to the 2014 Election.

He said doing so would underline the government’s commitment to a fair and transparent election process, one that would allow Fijian voters to make the right decision when the country head to the polls on 17 September 2014.

“Mr Bainimarama, if you indeed are ready to stand on your record, join me in a public debate on your record,” Prasad said.

He also called on all eligible Fijian voters to question the government as well as other aspiring persons looking to contest the election and represent the people on what they stand ready to offer the people as an alternative for the betterment of their lives in the present time and future.

“Our people don’t need pity, they need respect and they need their freedoms,” Prasad said.

“Most of all they need fair play.”

Accordingly he called for the removal of those decrees that restrict people’s right to association and freedom of expression.

He also said policies and promises made which will be hard to sustain and fulfil under current difficult conditions need to be reviewed.

Prasad said the party’s vision for Fiji is one where people have the freedom to earn a decent living, freedom to question the government, freedom from fear and oppression.

“It is a Fiji where we will promote the delivery of services to all without fear and favor.

“A Fiji where businesses are allowed to flourish, where economic growth is sustainable, Fiji where employment is plentiful, Fiji where people will want to live and make their homes and not think about migrating at any cost.”

NFP he says will encourage women candidates in this election adding that their manifesto will contain policies towards gender equality and empowerment of women.

The party also plans to engage with young, women, persons with disability, refrain from condemning old politicians and leaders and chiefs, but rather seek out their wisdom and advice.

A confident leader said the party will re-claim its rightful place in Fiji’s politics, to return to parliament with a substantial number of seats.

“We will not be dictatorial, we will not be vindictive, we will not harass and we will not go out on a witch hunt. We will promote a politics of consensus not partisanship. We will bring in a politics of inclusiveness and not divisiveness.

“The new NFP is a party which will stick to its enduring values of freedom for our people, democracy and good governance, humility and understanding of the unique nature of our society.

“It believes in an open and accountable government.”

Prasad further says the party understands and embrace changes in the expectations of young people who aspire to live in a free, peaceful and progressive country.

In the next few months, key leaders of NFP will travel throughout the country to discuss and present their policies.

To coincide with the election of their new officebearers, the party also yesterday put out advertisements inviting expressions of interests from interested persons to contest the election under its banner.

Former president Raman Pratap Singh said applicants must have a record of service to the community, “compassion for the less fortunate, show supporting his or her community and commitment to the rule of law, democracy and human rights.”

The party especially encourages applications from youth and women.

Some things NFP offer as an alternative to the current government:

Retirement age:
NFP in government, Prasad says “will restore the retirement age to 60.”

“In addition we will extend this further to 65 on annual contracts on the basis of needs.

“NFP will focus civil service on delivering services to citizens transparently, in a time bound manner and have clear procedures for resolving citizen’s grievances in a timely manner.”

Accelerate growth
Within two years in government, the party through and open and free environment, with a fair and credible business policy regime will position Fiji on a high growth path well in excess of 6 percent per annum.

Small Businesses:
The NFP will remove all impediments in the way of our small businesses.

“In government, we will provide a supportive environment for small businesses and will provide incentives to support people trying to make a living by operating small operations.”

Reducing Prices
In Government the NFP will reduce VAT from 15% to 10% immediately providing immediate relief on the growing costs of essential food items.

“We will review all import duties on important food items to reduce price further.”

Workers rights
The NFP says it will review the management structure of FNPF, review the representation on the board so that workers representatives have a majority decision making power.

"The NFP will review the contractual violations to the pension rates for our pensioners.

"The NFP will abolish all decrees including the Essential National Industries (ENI) restricting the rights of workers in this country and allow unions to operate in the spirit of dialogue and consultation with the employers.

“We will re-establish the tripartite forum where employers, government and the unions will have the platform to deal with issues affecting the workers of this country in a cooperative, consultative manner. We will revise the minimum wages based on different sectors and we will make the wages council more efficient and effective.”

Creating decent jobs
In government, the NFP says it will work with employers and investors to create decent employment opportunities through a range of job creating incentives.

“We will in particular pay attention to supporting both the manufacturing and agricultural sector as both have significant potential for employment creation. We will work with Australia and New Zealand to join the Pacific labor scheme.”

Education matters for democracy
The party says it has no quarrels with government’s stated priority for education for all the people in this country, in fact it commends them for some policies and NFP will maintain the increase in school grants.

The party though wants an urgent review of the current curriculum to gauge “where we stand in terms of quality of the teaching and learning process.”

“We appreciate and understand government’s attempt to provide scholarship and loan for all students who qualify for higher education.

“We will, however, review the structure of TELS and its secretariat while maintaining the goal of providing scholarship and loans to students.”

The NFP says it will keep the toppers scheme for the 600 highest achievers in form seven.

 However, those who do not make the cut in the 600, it will introduce a means tested scholarship which “will ensure that students from very poor families will get full scholarship and will not be forced to take a loan.”

“We will also convert all loans in 2014 to means tested scholarships for those who meet the criteria.”

The NFP plans to review teachers’ salaries to ensure that it matches up with the work that teachers, specialists and school heads undertake.

Creating decent jobs
The NFP plans to work with employers and investors to create decent employment opportunities through a range of job creating incentives.

“We will in particular pay attention to supporting both the manufacturing and agricultural sector as both have significant potential for employment creation.

“We will work with Australia and New Zealand to join the Pacific labor scheme.”

Regenerating sugar industry and the islands and rural agricultural sector
The NFP says it will help negotiate better deals with the EU and other markets.

In Government the NFP plans to substantially invest in the industry to rebuild confidence of farmers, introduce private sector innovations and rebuild trust in our external markets.

“We will reinstate a bi-partisan approach to the management of the sugar industry. We will re-establish an elected Sugar Cane Grower Council to create cohesion and cooperation amongst the sugarcane farmers in the country.

“We will increase agricultural extension services and work with private sector providers to extend telecommunications connectivity to all island communities as a high priority.

“At the back of this revolution in networking our country, we will weave onto that IT tapestry, the delivery of front line government services through e-services. Internationally, we will work with our traditional development partners and those in Asia, including China, India and others to learn, adapt and apply low technology solutions to enhancing income opportunities. We will not  fail island and rural communities.

"We will define a very clear agricultural policy linked to our export markets so that our farmers can increase production and increase income through export-led agricultural development."

Land Availability and Land use policy
The NFP will promote a Master Lease concept where Government leases all available agricultural land from landowners and then re-leases it to tenant farmers for a minimum tenure of 99 years.

“We will push for agricultural and residential tenants leasing Crown C Land be provided the option to buy the land at a price following valuation of the Un-improved Capital Value of the Land.”

Fixing health care
The NFP says it will review the salaries of doctors, nurses and health workers and implement a new salary structure within six months of being in government.

“In Government we will implement a health sector modernization program involving private-public sector solutions to improve medical facilities and equipment, to use new technologies including telemedicine to extend services to island communities, and reduce costs of private and public sector drugs through bulk -purchasing.”

Of our international partners
In going forward, the party says it will strive to deepen dialogue with all of Fiji’s development partners.

“Fiji’s development needs are many. From, education to health, to environmental degradation, to marine resource preservation, to boosting micro-finance access in semi-urban and rural areas, to rural infrastructure rehabilitation, we will work with development partners to seek their financing and technical support across priority areas.”

The NFP says it wants to focus their support to creating jobs and boosting incomes within these areas especially in rural and semi urban areas.


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