Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says wealth creation, climate change adaptation, indigenous rights and culture, and lifestyle habits are pivotal for anyone living in a traditional setting around the country.
Speaking at the Macuata Provincial Council meeting held in Labasa yesterday, the Prime Minister reminded participants that the i-Taukei in particular have been critical of the recent budget that saw changes to the imposition of Value Added Tax and others.
Rabuka urged those present to remind their people about the ‘old ways’ to mitigate the impact of increasing living costs.
He also highlighted the importance of preserving traditions and culture and explained that several governments had integrated the UN Declaration of Indigenous People into their laws.
He reminded attendees and relevant stakeholders not to overlook the importance of first consulting the indigenous people before prior consent.
He highlighted the work being done by the Ministry of I-Taukei Affairs and commended the work being done by the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) review team to ensure that the wishes of the i-Taukei is captured in the recommendations that will be tabled for Government’s consideration.
The Prime Minister also urged the leaders to note the assistance that can be accessed for village improvement schemes through the Rural Assistance and Rural Outer Islands programmes.
He also reminded the leaders that as long as seawalls needed to be built in coastal villages in Vanua Levu, the issue of climate change adaptation and mitigation would need be discussed at provincial meetings.