Fiji Labour Party Leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry says the country is not only heading for hard times but an even lengthy period of austerity.
In his Easter message, Chaudhry said while this is a time of hope, love and happiness when Christians celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Christ, for us in Fiji, Easter holidays this year are dampened by the rather somber message, from Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka warning of “difficult times ahead”.
“Equally disturbing was his notice to the nation not to expect any “good news” from the Fiscal Review Committee either.”
“The PM’s warning comes hard on the heels of one sounded earlier by Finance Minister Biman Prasad that increases in taxation are inevitable.”
“These warning are clear indications that Fiji is now well and truly in the ‘bail out’ mode of the International Monetary Fund.”
“Barely three months into the Coalition Government taking office, it appears to have succumbed lock, stock and barrel to the IMF prescription for nations in financial and economic distress.”
“This is indeed a huge disappointment to all those people who were looking for better times and fast relief from the ever-rising cost of living when they voted for the Coalition partners in the last elections.”
“The Labour Party has been warning the nation for weeks now that the coalition partners are backing off on their election promises to provide relief to the suffering public.”
“One wonders why the Coalition has not chosen to seek softer, less bitter, options which are available.”
Chaudhry said their message to the people now is to forget their expectations, watch their spending and prepare for even more difficult times ahead.
“On the bright side, the Coalition has delivered on some non-bread and butter issues, restoring freedoms and rights which were removed arbitrarily by the Bainimarama Government.”
“We are thankful for these and look forward to a much more robust performance from the media from now onwards.”
“It should be pointed out, however, that the 2013 imposed Constitution is the biggest hurdle in the way of genuine democracy for our nation and its citizens.”
“The Coalition partners have been critical of it, but it remains to be seen whether they have the political will and the courage to replace it with a constitution that will hold Governments accountable to the people, guaranteeing them universal human rights and freedoms as free and equal citizens,” he further added.