FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018


Madam Speaker

I Move

“That this Parliament agrees to a review of the Media Industry Development Act 2010 to allow subscription based television service to air local content including local news and commercial advertisements in conformity to principles of freedom and dissemination of information in modern democratic nation”.

Madam Speaker, the MIDA Amendment Act was passed by Parliament in July 2015 to facilitate Digicel mobile telecommunications company to buy Sky Pacific from Fiji Television.

However certain conditions were legislated by Government through the passage of the Amendment Act.

Section 42A was inserted in the Act to allow a foreign person or media organisation to provide subscription based pay television services through satellite or terrestrial transmission provided that

  • Such television services are limited to entertainment and sports programmes or channels sourced from other country;
  • No local content including local news is aired or shown by any such provider except commercial advertisements which exclude advertisements by any political party, foreign government, inter-governmental organisation, non-government organisation or multi-lateral agency, and;
  • Such provider obtains a special licence approved by the Minister, which shall be subject to such conditions as determined by the Minister

And Madam Speaker any person or organisation awarded a licence shall be subject to conditions as determined by the Minister.

Therefore, a pay or subscription television service provider is not only handicapped by the restrictive provisions of the MIDA Amendment ACT, but also restricted by the Minister who can enforce conditions.

Madam Speaker, the Minister who issues a licence is the Minister responsible for Communications. And currently the Minister is the Honourable Attorney General.

We recall that when Digicel was supposed to take over Sky Pacific from 1st October 2015, an announcement was made that Fiji One, the free to air channel available in Fiji since October 1991 would no longer be part of Sky Pacific.

This was a shock to thousands who accessed Fiji One, especially Fiji TV News through Sky Pacific. It was important for them to continue watching Fiji One because the 2015 Rugby World Cup had just begun in England. They had a temporary reprieve when the Honourable Attorney General announced that Fiji One would continue be part of Sky Pacific until after the World Cup.

But inevitably, Fiji One was removed because in accordance with the MIDA Act, Digicel was restricted from providing a free channel on its Sky Pacific. Customers had to fork out extra funds to install antennas in order to watch Fiji One.

Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, free to air television does not cover the entire country.  In our travels around the country we received several complaints from people who were unable to access television. These were in Tailevu, Ra, Tavua, Ba, parts of rural Nadi and Vanua Levu.

Previously people in these areas accessed Fiji One through Sky Pacific. And ever since mid 1990s when subscription television was introduced in  the country by Fiji TV, we had access to Fiji One on pay TV. First it was Sky Fiji that had four channels, one of which was Fiji One.

Then when Sky Pacific began in mid 2000, I recall one of its 16 channels was Fiji One. Even when the number of channels were increased, Fiji One remained an integral part of Sky Pacific, watched not only by people of Fiji but the Pacific as well.

Madam Speaker, it is totally unacceptable that Sky Pacific customers are denied access to Fiji One. They are denied a daily local news service. Fiji TV now runs three news bulletins – Breakfast, lunch and 6pm news and people have a right under the Constitution to be well informed through the news media of their choice.

We may have FBC TV, FIJI TV Mai TV as free to air channels but the right to choose is paramount – just as people choose between radio stations and newspapers or any other products similar in nature. This is common sense. And this Government always talks about freedom of choice without restrictions.

Furthermore, Madam Speaker, the provider of subscription television, in this case Digicel, is prohibited from airing commercial advertisements. This is totally against principles of doing business.

Any media organisation’s core business is commercial advertising. Even reputable international news channels like BCC and CNN air commercial advertisements. All pay channels everywhere including New Zealand and Australia air advertisements.

The only exception may be Pay Per View Channel. Pay Per View, as we all know is paying for a specific event to be aired on television – for example a major boxing bout, of which there have been many examples in Fiji when Sky was being run by Fiji Television.

Madam Speaker,  on Wednesday, the honourable Attorney General, while outlining the progress of Walesi Digital Platform, also alluded to Pay or subscription TV saying Sky TV, if allowed to sell advertisements, would seriously undermine the business of free to air channels.

The truth is that Sky TV had been airing advertisements as sponsors to their programs  until its official takeover by Digicel. This certainly didn’t affect the revenue of Fiji TV nor FBC.  Even the notion that Fiji is not ready for more than one television station was destroyed  when FBC entered the market.

And procurement of televisions programmes is expensive. The honourable Attorney General understands this extremely well. The Television Cross-Carriage Decree promulgated in 2014 generated controversy after Government wanted both television stations to broadcast sevens rugby and events sanctioned by World Rugby, rights that were with Fiji TV.

Why would Government force Fiji TV by way of a Decree to share its rights with FBC if FBC TV didn’t have a market and viewership?

An agreement was reached after rights issue were sorted out with World Rugby and reportedly FBC TV agreed to also contribute funds towards the payment of the rights in accordance with the market share of each station.

Also Madam Speaker, free to air television stations also prioritise commercial advertising over transmission of free content.  A perfect example of this is FBC TV that cuts short broadcast of parliamentary proceedings at midday to air programmes and advertisements of sponsors of such programmes that are Indian soap operas.

This is despite Government allocating $11.3 million in taxpayer funds annually to both FBC TV and Radio for public service broadcast.

The  fact that commercial viability of any entity  is paramount cannot be over-emphasised. Television programmes and live sports are expensive. All programmes have to be purchased. And that is why commercial advertising is important for all media organisations. No media organisation can survive without commercial advertising.

Similarly, Madam Speaker, there was talk of no room for two radio companies in Fiji. FBC had monopoly for more than 30 years until Communications Fiji Limited entered the market in 1985. FBC, if my memory serves correct, used to run two or three stations until then. Now they have  6.

CFL started with a single station with restrictive listenership confined mostly to parts of Central Division. Today they have 5. They have evolved into a highly successful commercial entity without any government support, past or present.

So the notion  that competition will destroy others is a myth and badly misplaced. It only serves for someone, in this case media organisations, to strive for success.

Madam Speaker, during the honourable Attorney General’s last budget consultations, he was asked by people why they could not watch news.

This has adversely impacted on freedom and dissemination of  information is a  fundamental right.

Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through the media regardless of frontiers”.

This freedom and right is reposed in the people, which the State and politicians must respect at all times.

The Media Industry Development Decree is regressive and suppresses Media Freedom because it imposes restrictions  on pay TV networks.

Madam Speaker,  even if Walesi becomes a genuine national network, it is still discriminatory to suppress news and current affairs as well as advertising on Sky.

In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural nation, it is vital that everyone has access to amongst things, news and current affairs as well as advertisements.

It does not bode well for competition if one company enjoys full rights and privileges while others suffer.

I commend the Motion



The Motion was defeated 27 votes to 15 votes

INDUSTRLIAL RELATIONS CLIMATE Response by NFP Leader Hon Professor Biman Prasad to a Ministerial Statement in Parliament by Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations on Thursday

March 15, 2018

Madam Speaker , I thank the honourable Minister for his statement. But at the outset, let me say that the industrial relations climate in the country has never been worse than the last ten years.

We had the Employment Relations Promulgations in 2007, forced upon the workers of Fiji through a Decree. We had the  draconian ENI  – Essential National Industries Employment Decree  in 2011 shoved down the throats of workers.

This Decree was brought about quite deviously Madam Speaker. We know that an American lawfirm Milli Bank was hired to draft the Decree that worked with a local law firm – and intermediary was the then  Chief Executive Officer of Fiji Airways. This is an indisputable fact.

We know that following the revelation  of this a pilot was terminated by the airline  after he was alleged to have extracted this information.  He was even interviewed by police. One local trade unionist was also in the spotlight.

Such was the climate of fear and intimidation that existed then.

Madam Speaker under the ENI, workers didn’t have a choice but to be subservient to  employers including Government. There was little or no recourse for action.  The Decree, like many others, could not be challenged in a Tribunal or a court of law.

Following complaints by the Trade Union Movement to the International Labor Organisation and the ILO’s decision to hold a Commission of Inquiry if the law wasn’t changed, the ENI Decree was repealed in July 2015 and the Employment Relations Promulgations Act as amended twice, then  and in February 2016.

But concerns for the workers remain Madam Speaker. Most industries are now designated as Essential Industries contrary to ILO guidelines. Conventions 87 and 98 of ILO  – Freedom of Association and protection or the right to organize  and Right to organize and Collective bargaining respectively.

Collective Agreements negotiated and achieved through decades of bargaining were declared void under the ENI Decree and benefits lost by the workers are yet to be renegotiated as employers insist on maintaining the benefits they gained through eroding the benefits of workers.

Further , the right to strike is severely restrained. Strike ballots have to be supervised by the Registrar of Trade Unions who also is the permanent secretary  in the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and  Industrial Relations.

Last year civil servants wanted conduct a ballot for  strike . The Registrar of Trade Unions or RTU declared the request unlawful claiming  the unions had not engaged in of good faith bargaining and negotiations were not exhausted.

The RTU also ruled out the strike ballot by workers of Air Terminal Services on the basis that it wasn’t supervised.

The Unions are claiming the RTU is acting beyond her powers. The supervision of ballots law is clearly being used to block and suppress the right of workers to take strike action as a last resort.

In December 2017, more than 200 Air Terminal Services – ATS workers were locked out of the company after they had gone to discuss employee beneficiary issues as members of ATSET – ATS Employees Trust.

The lockout by the management lasted 34 days – there was evidence of the ATS Acting CEO issuing a directive to the security officers to lock out the workers.

Within a few hours of the action, the Minister declared it quite illegally as a strike. Yet he failed to declare the lockout illegal and order the workers back to work. That was a fatal industrial relations mistake on the Minister’s part. The Tribunal’s Orders confirms what I am saying.  The workers were told to return to work without any victimization and with no loss of pay for the 34 years except for the few hours they attended their meeting.

It was a great victory for the workers and their families a slap on the face of Government and ATS Management. The workers and their families suffered for 34 days, spent the festive season including Christmas and New Year in tents.

The question that   is still being raised why the Minister failed to take action and implement the law to resolve the issue in the first place? Why didn’t the Attorney General who went to meet the ATSET  representatives  within 24 hours of the lockout fail to rectify the wrong decision instead of enforcing the Minister’s action?

And to make matters worse, the Board Chairman, who is also FBC’s CEO, told the workers to sign an apology letter before being allowed to return to work.

In fact, Madam Speaker, in a genuine democracy, a Minister would have quit after his colossal failure to practice harmonious industrial relations.  The same would have applied to the ATS Board Chairman and the company’s Acting CEO.

As already announced on 4th January 2018 as a matter of public policy, we will divest 51% Government shares in ATS to the workers when we come into Government.

Therefore, Madam Speaker, the examples that I have stated are totally in contrast to the Minister’s presentation to this parliament of how industrial relations climate has improved in our country.

To put it simply, it never was this bad in our Independent history where worker exploitation, enforcement of draconian laws, enforcement of  arbitrary reforms and contract employment, and restrictions on workers rights  have been the name of the game of this  regime and government as far as industrial relations climate is concerned.



CIVIL SERVICE REFORMS Reply by NFP Leader Hon Professor Biman Prasad to a Ministerial Statement by the Attorney General and Minister for Civil Service in Parliament on Thursday March 15, 2018

Madam Speaker

I rise to respond to the Honourable Minister’s Statement. What the Minister outlined in Parliament is nothing new. It is the favourite line of this Government – that all is rosy, nothing is wrong, the reforms are working, civil servants are happy and Open Merit Recruitment System is working well.

Madam Speaker nothing is further from the truth. The reality is distinctly different within our civil service and teaching fraternity. The same even goes for our personnel in the Fiji Police Force who feel let down but doe to professional ethics do not speak out.

The Honourable Acting Prime Minister asked me to show evidence that Open Merit Recruitment System is being abused in police recruitment.  I urge him to review the last two years of  recruitment list and the minimum requirements of recruits into the Force that will be readily available in the Fiji Police Academy – whether or not OMRS was applied.

Madam Speaker in September last year Hon Prem Singh informed Parliament how a Principal at a prominent School in Lautoka was removed from her position and replaced by an officer from the Curriculum Development Unit  – following direct involvement and interference by a senior Cabinet Minister. At that time the Honourable Attorney General stated in reply this was an isolated the  affected principal could appeal against the decision. The senior Cabinet Minister even directed the school management to accept the change.

The substantive principal then had no choice but to report to  the Divisional Education Office during her working hours.

The affected principal knocked the doors of the Ministry including the former and current permanent secretary of education to no avail. She was offered a downgraded position that she rightly refused.

We are now told that the principal posted to the school following the directive of the  senior Minister was forced out of the school following an alleged sexual incident at the school this year. The former principal was then re-posted to the school on a temporary contract.

So much for the Open Merit Recruitment System.

Madam Speaker the most affected by the arbitrary reforms have been teachers.

The teaching fraternity has been exploited and held to ransom by the current Government, which has forced them to enter into discriminatory contracts under the pretext of offering them salary increases.

Principals, Vice Principals, Heads of Department (HOD), Head Teachers, Assistant Head Teachers and other post holders have been demoted to a lower rank and then offered acting appointments to the substantive positions they previously held.

Teachers who held substantive positions have been first appointed to a rank lower than the position they were holding, and then given a second contract offering them an acting contract to the position they held substantially and an acting salary of 95% of the substantive salary.

We have cited contracts of several teachers to confirm the exploitation and discriminatory nature of the contract.

In one case a principal was first offered the contract of a vice principal. The person has been holding the position of Principal prior to this ill-conceived reform. On the same day, the person was given another contract of Acting Principal of 95% of the increased salary.

In another case a teacher holding the position of HOD (Head of Department) was first offered the contract of Assistant Teacher. On the same day, the person was offered an Acting HOD Contract at a salary of   95% of the new salary.

Madam Speaker, In November those offered positions of Acting principals and head teachers were told to re-apply for their positions, that would come into effect from the beginning of 2nd term.

What we have been told is that a lot of substantive post holders, who were given acting appointments, have not been even shortlisted for interviews. This is despite earning their posts through years of experience and climbing the ladder meritoriously. Where is the Open Merit Recruitment System?

Furthermore, teachers who have been in the service for over 25 years have been given a meagre pay rise of 6.4 percent and the same as teachers with far less experience because they do not hold a Diploma. The teachers are furious because their experience counts for nothing.

Worse of all, all contracts render meaningless the teachers’ employment security and make them totally subservient to Government.

Some of its regressive provisions are: –

  • Renewal of the contract is at the absolute discretion of Government
  • The Civil Servant irrevocably agrees that non-renewal of the Contract will not give rise to any course of action whatsoever against the Government
  • The duration of the Contract expires immediately upon a civil servant reaching the retirement age of 55
  • Renewal of the Contract is subject to Government requiring the services of the civil servant and that too if he or she agrees to enter into another contract on mutually agreed terms
  • The decision of Government to transfer a civil servant on the existing terms of the Contract to anywhere in Fiji is final
  • Government has the right to change or vary the Contract anytime

This discriminatory and exploitative contractual employment that is being forced upon our teachers will not result in a harmonious, unified and productive civil service.

Such draconian contracts are subjugating our teachers and have no place in a genuine democracy.

Madam Speaker, We will correct this discriminatory practice. We will offer permanent tenure of employment to all civil servants, teachers and members of our two security forces.

And we will increase the retirement age in the civil service to 60 years.


Health Motion moved in Parliament by Hon. Professor Biman Prasad

Madam Speaker

I move that

“This Parliament approves the formation of a bipartisan Committee to conduct an inquiry into the public health and medical system and for the Report of such an inquiry to be tabled, debated and adopted by Parliament and to form the basis of formulation of policies and strategies by Government to improve the delivery of health care and medical services”.

Madam Speaker, the sad but unmistakable reality is that there is serious deterioration of our health services and medical care.

Our extremely poor health service is blight on our nation. There is no other way to put it. Go to any hospital in the country and you will see the pathetic conditions.

I have visited a number of hospitals and health centres since the resumption of parliamentary democracy. I visited them before the elections as well. My latest visits have shown no improvement in service delivery. Patients especially women and children are waiting for more than 5 hours to see a doctor. The physical condition of many hospitals is shameful.

Our hospitals should never run out of essential medicines or basic equipment such as syringes for blood tests. I need not go into examples because there is an endless list of grievances that we receive daily.

May be the Honourable Prime Minister should visit the hospitals without notice to see for himself the conditions of the hospitals around the country. He should start in his own backyard with CWM hospital!

Even the expectation of clean and hygienic conditions at our hospitals is just too high an expectation from this Government. Just recently we had go to CWM and we saw for ourselves the reality.

Madam Speaker, In the A & E or Accident and Emergency Unit, there is lack of beds – the lack of beds and linen in Wards is another matter. Patients are told to get off their beds and sit on chairs with oxygen masks on while new cases are transferred onto the beds.

In one of the Wards here is a single shower and washroom. It was full of mosquitoes with patients using vape mats. Yesterday the Honourable Minister for Health and Medical Services told Parliament that only two types of mosquitoes spread Dengue. How people are expected to identify which mosquito is of what type? May be the Minister can teach us a thing or two about identifying  the two dangerous types of mosquitoes!

The biggest hypocrisy was that while posters carrying the Ministry’s message called “Fight the Bite” were displayed on the walls, patients and visitors to the Ward were trying their best not to be bitten by mosquitoes.

Madam Speaker, the Paying Ward is another story. Taps and showers were not running in one room, despite it being a paying ward – more than $100 a night for a room.

The examples that I have given are totally unacceptable.

Madam Speaker, despite major reforms health care has not improved. This is the painful reality.

Whilst Fiji has the largest population of the Small Island States in the Pacific, its health budget spending is unfortunately under 5% Health to GDP ratio, under the World Health Organisation recommendations. This figure is also less than our neighbours Tonga, Samoa, even Solomon Islands health budget allocations.

Although Fiji is most developed as far as Manpower numbers, Technology and a Centralize Pharmaceutical supply line, originally intended for the neighbouring States also, we continue to fail in areas of research, policy and practice.

Despite the partial successes of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), we are falling behind with planning and commissioning the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDG) to 2030.

The health system is now in utter chaos with little control of the spiraling standards. The health and medical services is subservient to the Ministry of Civil Service for Recruitment and addressing Staff issues.

The political leaders in health have left Health Administration to run day to day affairs at their whim, National programs remain unmonitored and running grants will fizzle out if monitoring and evaluation of funding grants are not collated as part of their international partnerships.

Madam Speaker, Infrastructural Development programs have been stalled and held back.

The development of a radiotherapy facility has gone off the radar. The International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) promised a turnkey handover if a Cabinet / Parliamentary endorsement to all the preparatory studies was endorsed by 2020. One wonders whether the Health Ministry presented a Cabinet paper to facilitate this critically important development.

The Cardiology Services is facing major self-imposed challenges by the Ministry of Health and Medical services. The services of The Indian Group “Sahyadri” was terminated controversially on completion of 5 years of the Memorandum Of Agreement. No crossover in the interim was considered. No Ongoing or Residual analysis was undertaken to forecast the deadly impact this would have on the health and wellbeing of common Fijians.

We are told that instead WHO was instructed to mount a study of the angiogram, catheter laboratory services and the open heart component in this gap.

Madam Speaker, we need to know whether the report has been completed and if yes why no action is forthcoming.

Instead at a much greater cost patients are forced to seek treatment at private hospitals when this could have been done at a much cheaper price at CWM, Lautoka and possible Labasa hospitals.

Madam Speaker, the Kidney Dialysis services are a no show despite all the pomp in the last budget.   Very much like the shambolic free Medicine scheme or the supposedly free electricity policy which has driven away consumers who had initially signed for it in droves.

The Opposition’s Motions during the last two national budgets calling for a significant increase to the paltry sum of $300,000 for dialysis was defeated.

Yet Government sees it fit to allocate annually, $9 million for golf, $18 million as Singapore route marketing grant to Fiji Airways and $11.3 million to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. One may well ask – are these more precious than the lives of those ordinary citizens in desperate need of dialysis?

It is also legitimate to ask how many doctors have been recruited by the Ministry following the passage of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Amendment Act about 11 months ago. We recall it was announced that 170 doctors were needed and would be recruited but it seems that this recruitment drive has been a colossal failure.

And now Madam Speaker, the Honourable Attorney General talks about privatising health care and medical services at Lautoka and Ba hospital under public-private partnership. It confirms government’s inability to provide decent and affordable health care.

This government paid little attention to our major hospitals and medical facilities. It did not lack resources but did not make improving medical and health care a priority.

That is why we need a bipartisan approach for an inquiry into all aspects of health care and medical services.  Madam Speaker, only a bipartisan inquiry will succeed and the bipartisan committee can look at and develop recommendations for a decent and affordable public care system.

There are many things that we can do.

There is a need to introduce a comprehensive health care modernization program. Any health care modernization program must place our citizens at the heart of rebuilding health care.

We have to ensure medical care that is focused on compassion, respect and dignity life for all our citizens. Regardless of age and place of residence, citizens must have access to decent health care.

To achieve this, a Personalized Health Care framework may be needed. There is a need to ensure clinical (Hospital Based Care) is delegated to Empowered Health Specialists Group (Teams) for standard practice, equal care levels throughout Fiji.

Madam Speaker , funding will have to be committed to ensure that Fiji has well-placed and well-funded team of medical workers. Our citizens should know that in hospitals, they will be seen by doctors within a specified time and not wait endlessly.

Madam Speaker , Public provision of health care in Fiji is a foundation on which this country is built. We need to  invest in order  to enhance and sustain delivery of care especially in specialized areas such as cancer treatment, renal transplant and cardiology.

We need our medical professionals to be able to work with the most modern equipment and technical support. Fiji needs joined-up private-public sector solutions to modernize 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.

Madam Speaker , we have ensure that facilities are restored and maintained to International Health Quality Standards. We should not put up with the idea that because we are poor and small country, our standards can be lower.

There is a need to realign/review policy for equitable health services outcomes in environmental, ecological health in sustaining life and welfare; disaster and humanitarian crisis health response.

Madam Speaker , Health should be a big priority. Health is fundamental human right. Investing in health is investing in our future. At the moment there is no foresight when it comes to health and medicine. We should cure this illness.

And together, in a bipartisan manner, we can collectively look at what needs to be done. And then the future will be much brighter.


I commend the Motion.


Motion on Healthcare delivery


Madam Speaker,

I rise on a Point of Order, under Standing Order 74(1)(a) where in my humble view Madam there is an alleged breach of Standing Orders or practices of Parliament.

I urge this august House to consider Standing Order 58(3)(a) and (b) as I lay out the issue which say’s:

  1. Protocols while speaking
  2. A member must not be interrupted, except by the Speaker, or another member who is—

(a) raising a point of order; or

(b) trying to clarify some matter raised by the member in his or her speech, but only if the member speaking is willing to give way and resume his or her seat and the member wishing to interrupt is called by the Speaker.

Madam Speaker on Monday, 05 March 2018 during the question time pertaining to my Leader of Opposition’s question regarding the 2017 Census, I followed up with a supplementary question, which then led to the Hon Attorney General and Chief Legal Advisor to Government, blatantly misleading this august House that no ethnic data was collected by the 2017 Census enumerators.

I quote Madam Speaker the comment by the learned Attorney General on Monday in response to my Supplementary Question:

HON. A. SAYED-KHAIYUM.- No such data was collected. He needs to understand that there has been no aggregation of data based on ethnicity under the 2000 and 2017 Census none whatsoever. They need to move away from that, they think we are hiding it, we are not hiding it. There was no collection of data.

The points of the Hon Attorney General allegedly misleading and bringing dishonour and disrepute to this august House, which are NOT A STANDARD PRACTICE OF THIS HOUSE as per Standing Order 74(1)(a) are as follows:

(1) There was no census done in 2000. There was a Census done in 2007.

(2) In the 2007 census there is public information readily available that clearly shows aggregation of data based on ethnicity.

Madam Speaker, the people of Fiji who we are supposed to represent are up in arms over this issue. There is already a hashtag called #MyEthnicityCounts starting on social media.

Everyone who was counted, Madam Speaker, willingly allowed strangers in the form of enumerators into their houses to extract very PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL information from them, with the understanding that this information is to be used for enhanced government services and support — and are now being told that the Bureau of Statistics has a competence issue which I find very hard to believe because the previous statements are contrary to the statements of the Bureau today — especially when this exercise has cost taxpayers $14.5M which we passed in the 2017-2018 Budget only last year.”

Madam Speaker, with this Point of Order I seek a ruling from your Chair that the Attorney General immediately apologise to this august House for misleading us when he said that a census was done in 2000 and that there was no aggregation of data based on ethnicity done – it was done in 2007.

I lay on on the table a brief pertaining to public statements in support of Standing Order 74(1)(a) that there is an alleged breach of Standing Orders or practices of Parliament  



Annex 1: 2007 Census Figures (by Ethnicity), from:


Annex 2: 2017 Census Questionnaire



Annex 3: Public Statement and Tweet from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics
Annex 3: Public Statement and Tweet from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics

Point of Order – Misleading Parliament

Response to Fiji Sun Reports

In recent days, the Fiji Sun has published allegations about
statements allegedly made by National Federation Party
Member of Parliament Honourable Parmod Chand at a
political meeting in Labasa in February.
The Prime Minister has attacked NFP on the basis of the Fiji
Sun reports.
NFP is currently investigating the allegations made in
the Fiji Sun and how they came to be reported. A further
statement will be issued soon.
At this point, any person who comments on the Fiji
Sun reports believing them to be true is advised to carefully
consider their legal position.
Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader Statement on Fiji Sun’s Claims


The National Federation Party has today announced ten more provisional candidates, bringing the number of provisional candidates announced by the Party to 40 so far.

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said the candidates are of high calibre and are ready to be part of an NFP government to serve the people of Fiji with honesty and integrity.

The ten provisional candidates are : –

  1. Honourable Pramod Chand.

Honourable Chand is a sitting Member of Parliament for NFP. He also served as a NFP MP from 1994 to 1999. Honourable Chand is a reputable businessman and a successful cane grower based in Vanua Levu.

  1. Ms Riddhi Damodar

Ms Damodar is an entrepreneur, a gold medalist in gymnastics and a former journalist and Television presenter in India.

  1. Jiosefa Gavidi

Mr Gavidi is a former NFP Suva City Councillor and has served as SCC’s Deputy Mayor. He is also a prominent community and social worker and a former teacher.

  1. Ms Leba Seni Nabou

Ms Nabou needs little introduction. She is a Vice President of NFP and leads our policy making and communications team. Ms Nabou is an environmental and traditional science advocate, as well as a public relations and policy consultant.

  1. Mr Herbert Pickering

Mr Pickering is a well known resident of Lautoka and Savusavu. He is the youngest son of former prominent Cabinet Minister the late David Pickering. Mr Pickering has vast experience as an integral employee in various  industries in Australia.

  1. Mr Tuinadave Radogo

Mr Radogo is NFP’s Assistant General Secretary and a successful businessman. He owns and operates Ratu Kini’s Backpackers Resort on Mana Island.

  1. Ms Priyanka Ram

Ms Ram is a social worker ad humanitarian scholar. In her role, she has worked with the Red Cross, Fiji Police Force, an orphanage in India and was also a Youth Administrator for Namosi Province.

  1. Mr Leslie Tikotikoca

Mr Tikotikoca is the youngest son of former Police Commissioner Romanu Tikotikoca. He is a youth and social worker and an advocate for the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation.

  1. Savneel Sangeet

Mr Sangeet is a school teacher by profession who has recently resigned to become a provisional candidate for NFP. He is an avid sports hiker and mountaineer and has represented the Fiji Hiking and Mountaineering  Association at events in Fiji and around the world.

  1. Apenisa Vatuniveivuke

Mr Vatuniveivuke is a law and politics students at University of the South Pacific and an youth advocate.

The NFP is proud of its provisional line-up so far. These are men and women of credibility who have set out to serve our beloved Fiji and put national interest above everything else.  They will greatly help NFP bring about the much needed change that Fiji so desperately needs for the better. And there is no doubt that change is coming and change is inevitable because the policies of NFP are designed to enhance the social, economic and political advancement of all our people.

We  have, are and will campaign on issues. We will expose the failures the Fiji First government and provide real credible solutions.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our detractors, particularly government, aided and abetted by sections of the media, especially the Fiji Sun, that for all intents and purposes is the Fiji First Sun and Fiji Broadcasting Corporation that has for a while changed for the worse from a National to a State broadcaster.

While they are supposed to, in conformity to their ethics, amplify the voice of the people so that each one of us makes informed decisions and choices. They are unashamedly parroting the tune of Government–we have countless examples of these and it is not worth repeating these. However the two recent cases go beyond the pale.

In the case of Fiji First Sun, the issue of the high price of locally made Rewa butter, you could buy a pound of butter for less than $5 in 2006. In the last 11 years, the price of butter has almost doubled. I spoke on this issue during our Northern tour last week.

This was never reported by  the newspaper but last Saturday, it gave its own analysis through its Managing Editor (News), criticising me and again on Thursday through the Attorney General. These were comments made on FBC’s Hindi talk-back show Aaina, reproduced by the Fiji First Sun.

Both the newspaper’s analysis and the Attorney General’s comments justified the price hike due to high price of bulk butter imported from New Zealand by Fiji Dairy Corporative Ltd. Simply, both Fiji First, Fiji First Sun and State run FBC want the price of butter to remain high at almost $10 in Viti Levu and over  $10 in Vanua Levu. We will be lucky to get it for between $9-$10 during  supermarket specials.

The AG said I was wrong. Well the AG is always right, or so he thinks. He can do no wrong. He and his taxpayers’ funded newspaper and radio station are misleading our people.

The price of butter is high because the Government is giving preferential treatment to Southern Cross Foods Limited, which is owned by C J Patel. It is the parent company of Fiji Dairy Ltd, the makers of Rewa butter,  in which dairy farmers have only 20% shares through Fiji Dairy Corporative Ltd.

The company enjoys zero duty on imports of milk products and it includes butter while other companies pay 32% duty on such imports. This company does not pass on the savings from duty free import to the consumers. .

We expect the nation’s chief legal advisor to be truthful and not mislead the people. In this regard, we challenge him to come out clean and tell the people of Fiji whether or not the parent company of Fiji Dairy Lrd enjoys zero duty on imports while the rest of the companies pay 32% duty and yet the price of butter is unaffordable because the company doesn’t pass on the benefits of concession to the people.

So to protect the interests of one company, this Government is telling the ordinary people to suffer. If it really had the interest of people at heart, the price of butter would be at least $2 cheaper than what it is today.

We announce today that an NFP Government will list butter as a basic food item and remove VAT on it. We will remove the zero duty concession enjoyed by the company and allow all importers to compete on a level playing field.

The other issue is the gutter-level accusations labelled against the NFP for campaigning along racial and religious lines. This was started by the Attorney General during a temple meeting in Nakasi a month ago and reportedly re-iterated during FBC’s Aaina show.

He implied that the NFP was saying Fiji First is a party of South Indians and Muslims. We find this despicable and a desperate act on the part of the AG to use taxpayers funded media organisations like the Fiji First Sun and State controlled FBC to malign us.

We challenge the AG to furnish the nation within the next three days conclusive and irrefutable proof that the NFP leadership or any of its executives and provisional candidates are indulging in such filth. In the absence of such conclusive and irrefutable proof, we regard the AG’s comments as highly inflammatory.

We expect the Fiji First, PM and the AG to do much better and remain true to their words of the election being a battle about ideas and not downright lies.

May we put all our detractors on notice – Do not take NFP’s name in vain.

We will not take his lying down.

May God bless Fiji.

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

NFP Announces Ten More Provisional Candidates – March 2, 2018




The National Federation Party says it is shocking that two years on from Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, 50 percent of homes on Koro Island have not been rebuilt while villagers live in makeshift shelters.

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said even more alarming is the fact that the hardware companies have already been paid for cards issued to the villagers under the Help for Homes Initiative when reportedly no delivery was made

“While the hardware companies have received the money for material to be supplied to the affected villagers on Koro Island, the victims of the monstrous cyclone are still waiting for the material and once again have a decent shelter and roof over their heads”.

“We had raised this issue in December 2016 but the Attorney General had then treated it as a trivial matter, and later said the two companies who failed to supply material were not selected for the second round of the Help for Home Initiative and had also paid a unspecified fine”.

“14 months after we had raised our concern and two years on from Severe TC Winston, the Fiji Times revealed that half of the total number of homes on Koro, which was directly in the path of the Category 5 cyclone, have not been repaired while villagers are living in makeshift shelters”.

“Worse still, according to the news report, the invoices recording the purported delivery of materials have been signed without material actually reaching the victims”.

“Naturally the villagers feel robbed and cheated”.

“Anybody, let alone a government that professes equal citizenry and proclaims that the Bill of Rights on its 2013 Constitution more than adequately protects the weak and the vulnerable, should be greatly concerned and take immediate and decisive action”.

“We reiterate our call for a full and independent investigation into this fiasco because no business must be allowed to charge money for any service it cannot provide because it would be a scam to do so as it involves taxpayers funds”.

Suppression of freedom

The National Federation Party Leader Professer Biman Prasad says the refusal by Fiji Police Force to give a permit to the Fiji Trades Union Congress for a march and a rally is a government boasts it practices genuine democracy.

“The Fiji Police Force today faces humiliation for its decision to reject the permit. At the outset, it was based on a totally illogical reason that the FTUC National Secretary was under investigation”.

“Less than 18 hours later the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions ruled that the comments made by the National Secretary during a rally following a solidarity march for ATS workers in Nadi on 24th January do not constitute an offence”.

“It is therefore adundantly clear Police misled the workers of Fiji. If the National Secretary was still under investigation, then why was the file on him sent to the DPP for an assessment? The file is only sent to the DPP after investigations are complicated “.

“it is now also logical to ask whether the Police independently made its decision to reject the permit or was the Force influenced to do so”.

Professer Prasad said to prevent its image from being further tarnished, the Force has to come out clean and reveal the truth behind the decision to reject the permit on a non-existent issue because “it has now been caught misleading the workers”.

“This is a serious issue because it has directly breached fundamental freedoms of the workers of the country and indeed everyone who has planned to praticipate in the march to express solidarity and support the issues that where to be highlighted during the march”.

“Breach or violation of any freedom is a breach of human right and a case for the Human Rights and Anti- Discriminination Commission to establish what transpired”.

Authorised by:

NFP Leader

Professer Biman Prasad

NFP Leader – Permit refusal is suppression of freedom




Dugavatu Families still in Dark.

Residents of Dugavatu, Raki Raki are still awaiting the supply of electricity by FEA under rural electrification programme despite a promise made by the Prime Minister last year.

The Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama had last year on his “Consultation Visit” with his large entourage reportedly made the commitment at the Tataiya Memorial School to provide FEA power to the 37 cane farmers families residing in Dugavatu area.

The Dugavatu rural area which is located just 7 kilometers away from Raki Raki town has no piped water and electricity supply. Water supply is currently provided under the Community Project and is contributed and managed by the residents.

An NFP Team NFP led by Prof. Biman Prasad and General Secretary-Jagannath Sami met with the residents of Dugavatu last Tuesday. The residents during a “Talanoa Session “raised many concerns including the failure by government to fulfil its promise to supply electricity to the residents.

The NFP is calling on the Prime Minister to make good his promise to the people of Dugavatu and is hopeful that with the general elections nearing, the Prime Minister will fulfill his promise.
Last Friday the PM visited Raki Raki again as part of his consultation trip in the West.

Rural Ra residents awaiting electricity