Category Archives: Press Release

NFP President assaulted by Prime Minister

Friday August 9, 2019

Friday August 9, 2019 will go down in the history of our nation as a shameful day when the Prime Minister of our nation, surrounded by his bodyguards,   twice assaulted a honourable Member of Parliament.

The incident happened around 11.40am when I was walking out of Parliament after moving and  replying to my Motion calling for a Special Parliamentary Committee to be established to look at the national problem of drugs in Fiji.

I had walked outside parliament when I heard the Prime Minister’s voice and he called out to me in i-taukei language “Pio, come here”.

I turned around walked back to him where he was within the precints of Parliament near his oficial vehicle surounded by his bodyguards. He started swearing at me in i-taukei language – swore at my mother and my father, and assaulted me. In the process he broke my pair of eye glasses. He then again warned me in i-taukei language “Qarauna tiko”  or Watch Out.

I then started walking up the parliamentary steps to go back into the House and report this to the Honourable Speaker. For the second time, the Prime Minister came up to me and assaulted me.

This is of course an act of downright cowardice and an act of thuggery. This act of violence was also witnessed by Honourable Qereqeretabua and members of our staff .

And worse – the PM’s bodyguards stod around him and did nothing to hold him back.

I regard this as the most shameful and dispicable act to have been carried out by  any Prime Minister in our independent history.  

An assault on any member of this house is an assault on our voters an assault on the sanctity of parliament and consequentially an assault on democracy. I am a member of the parliament of Fiji. I am a proud son of Fiji and I would not in earnest think of assaulting a member of this house—no matter how bad our disagreements.

After this, I will be going into the Totogo Police station to lodge an official police report. I will also be tendering a letter to the Speaker of the house of parliament to look into this very grave and serious matter. Violence in any form cannot be allowed to be perpetuated or condoned. I was assaulted in the presence of Hon. Qereqeretabua our youth members and members of the parliamentary staff.

This day of shame brought upon democracy in Fiji by the Leader of the nation must become a thing of the past.

AUTHORISED BY: –

Pio Tikoduadua

President

(The matter has been reported at Totogo Police Station this afternoon.)

NFP Leader Claims Government’s Dialysis is a broken promise

The National Federation Party says the Fiji First Government has miserably failed to fulfil its promise of providing funding for subsidised kidney dialysis to patients from low income families in three Divisions as announced in its budget last year.

The Party says kidney patients from families with combined annual income of less than $20,000  in the Western, Central Divisions and Eastern Divisions are being denied subsidised dialysis, with the only exception being the Northern Division.

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad also claims that the Party  has also established that the sole nephrologist in the country  Dr Amreesh Krishnan has resigned his position as a Consultant and the Head of the Nephrology Department at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital apparently  because of frustrating delays in the construction of the kidney specialist centre in Tamavua.

“Kidney patients from families with a combined income of less than $20,000 should have been eligible to have dialysis three times a week at a subsidised cost of $75 per session because Government had announced last year they would now reduce the cost of dialysis from as high as $250 per session”.

“Instead Government would provide dialysis at a cost of $150 at its hospitals and the new kidney centre but would subsidise treatment for patients from families with combined annual income of less than $20,000 per annum”.

“We have established that dialysis is being done at a cost of $150 per session at Labasa Hospital only and patients in the North from  families with incomes of less than $20,000 are being provided subsidised dialysis at a cost of $75 per session”.

“This means that patients from poor families in the Western, Central and Eastern Divisions are paying between $200 and $250 per session for dialysis to stay alive. This is unacceptable”.

“Earlier this year, the Health Minister told Parliament in response to a query from NFP Parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua that a dialysis centre would open soon at Nadera.  But this hasn’t happened”.

“Similarly, Government is silent on how it intends to provide subsidised dialysis to patients in the Western  and Eastern Divisions”.

“Likewise, there is no word on why the completion of construction and equipping of the kidney centre at Tamavua is long overdue”.

“We are being inundated with pleas of help from relatives of patients with low incomes who go around trying to raise funds for their expensive treatment. We have ben reliably told that health professionals forced to use their salaries to fund treatment for emergency cases”.

“All government does is to issue permits for fundraising for dialysis instead of providing facilities for subsidised dialysis”.

“This leads us to seriously question whether government’s announcement in its budget last year  was an election gimmick following NFP’s announcement in July 2017 of providing free dialysis to all patients from families with less than $30,000 annual income”.

“We made this pledge following government’s repeated rejection of our motions to get it to increase budgetary allocation for dialysis from a meagre $300,000 to at least $3million”.

“But this government has left kidney patients to fend for themselves and in most cases forego  the normal requirement of three sessions a week and have only one dialysis treatment due to exorbitant costs”.

“And now we see the sole qualified nephrologist quitting the public healthcare and medical sector.”

“All this is a result of yet another broken promise by his patchwork Fiji First government”.

Nfp Questions Rarawai Mill Upgrade

Mill fiasco

The National Federation Party is asking the Fiji Sugar Corporation to reveal the truth about the state of preparedness of the Rarawai Sugar Mill which was barely operational for almost week since its since its launch of crushing more than 9 days ago on 9th July. NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said despite a $9.3 million upgrade, the mill had crushed around 3,000 tonnes of cane until yesterday morning in a period of over 6 days till Monday.

Professor Prasad said while the mill finally started operating late Monday, the NFP was extremely concerned about the first six days of crushing that has caused huge losses to growers and growers. He claimed FSC was now behaving like the CSR (Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd), “hiding information even from the Tribunal about the lack of state of preparedness of the mill”. “The capacity of the mill is to crush around 5,000 tonnes of cane in a 24 hour period. But we believe it crushed about 3,000 tonnes in the last six days until Monday (15 July) morning”. “Therefore what was FSC Chief Executive Officer bragging about the efficient operation of the mill this season and the $9.3 million upgrade when he launched the start of crush last Tuesday (9 July)?” “ We also ask the FSC to reveal the truth on whether it defied the advice of the Rarawai mill management who had clearly stated that the mill wasn’t ready to start”. “In displaying their arrogance to show they knew what they were doing, the FSC CEO and his executive management team have caused severe losses to cane growers who had hired cane cutters and were forced to incur additional expenditure in contingency to provide for the cane cutters when the mill stopped crushing a few hours after the launch”.

“ As a result majority of the cane that was harvested had to be carted to Lautoka mill from the districts of Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki”. “While cane laden on lorries were taken to Lautoka and dumped before the cane started to dry, growers carting cane through rail network especially in Tavua have suffered further losses because of lengthy delays in hauling the laden rail carts to the mill”. “This is because cane laden on rail carts started to dry up after 2 days. And FSC won’t take responsibility to compensate the affected growers for loss of tonnage”. “We also ask why didn’t FSC carry out trials before start of crush as has been done before. FSC used to harvest and crush cane from its own estates for the pre-season trials before informing the Sugar Industry Tribunal about the state of preparedness of its mills”.

“In the case of Rarawai it would mean that FSC misled the Tribunal and other stakeholders especially growers by declaring Rarawai was ready for crushing”. “We also believe FSC has now engaged the services of experts from Australia to try and fix the ills plaguing Rarawai mill. This is wastage of funds that a technically insolvent FSC can ill-afford”. “ There is no use for FSC to hide behind the reason of it being a teething problem that it normally states. This is totally unacceptable”. “And while growers are suffering from this fiasco, the silence from the Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar is deafening”.

A Public Relations Disaster

National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says Government’s handling of the mysterious death of the USA couple has been a public relations disaster.

Professor Prasad said Government’s public utterances on the tragedy created a public perception, especially in the minds of the couple’s families in USA that Government was devoid of any compassion and humanitarianism.

“Almost two months after the couple’s death, Government finally informed the couple’s families this week that their bodies would be repatriated”.

“This is after saying that they were going to cremate the husband as his body was rapidly decomposing”.

“This is despite the fact that their bodies were embalmed and ready to repatriated”.

“Undoubtedly, this has been a huge public relations disaster and will impact the tourism industry, particularly visitor numbers from the United States”.

“Once again Government’s taxpayers funded Qorvis communications, which has received millions of dollars over the past years, has failed to prevent this colossal failure of a patchwork government”

Authorised by NFP Leader, Biman Prasad

Bulitavu racially slurring Indo-Fijian women

July 5, 2019

SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu is racially slurring and demeaning Indo-Fijian women with his insulting comment that accuses rural Indo-Fijian women of committing adultery and therefore being murdered by their husbands.

This is reprehensible and despicable. As a lawyer Mr Bulitavu is trying to blame Indo-Fijian women for the heinous crime of murder, which he claims has spread to the i-Taukei community.

And he also goes onto to blame i-Taukei women for getting beaten up by their husbands who escape punishment because of the culture of bulubulu.

This is shameful. He has insulted our hardworking women – our mothers, daughters and sisters. He should hang his head in shame and publicly apologise to all women whose morality, character and credibility he has attacked.

Racial slurs and malicious attacks have no place in our society. At a time when every effort is being made for the social, economic and political advancement of women, Mr Bulitavu’s comment raises serious questions about his intention to racially denigrate women.

Authorised by:

Professor Biman Prasad

Leader

NFP pays tribute to our Girmitiya

TUESDAY 14TH MAY 2019

The National Federation Party today pays tribute to the Girmitiya or pioneering forefathers whose blood, sweat, toil and tears as well as co-operation and racial harmony with the indigenous Fijians and other minority races, have made Fiji the hub of the South Pacific.

Today is a historic day. On this day 140 years ago, the first Girmitiya or Indentured labourers numbering 463 arrived from India onboard the ship Leonidas.

They were the first of a total of 60,553 Girmitiya brought between 14th May 1879 and 11th November 1916 by the British colonial government to work on the sugarcane plantations.

The rest is history. For the last 140 years, especially after 1916, the most of the Girmitya who opted to stay back in Fiji after completion of their Indenture, and their future generations, made Fiji their only home.

Their contribution to the social, economic and political advancement of Fiji, notably the development of the sugar industry into the economic backbone of  the country for more than 100 years and the transition of Fiji from 96 years of colonial rule to Independence in 1970, is historical and immeasurable.

Descendants of the Girmitiya have done their forefathers and the nation immensely proud nationally and internationally in the fields of economy, education, politics and law. They have and are serving their land of their birth with distinction.

The founding of schools, building of temples, preservation of languages, culture and traditions is a hallmark of the principles of self-dignity and respect inculcated by the Girmitiya in their descendants and passed on from one generation to another.

This is the legacy that the current generation must cherish and uphold and bequeath it to future generations. This task can be made easier through education of our children of the sacrifices and struggle for dignity and justice of our Girmitiya.

Lest we forget our Girmitiya.

Authorised by:

Professor Biman Prasad

Leader

A Police State

THURSDAY 2ND MAY 2019

The National Federation Party has labelled the arrest and interrogation  of trade unionists by police, for allegedly breaching the Public Order Act, as persecution, harassment and intimidation by the Fiji Police Force, on the orders from Government. 

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad says Fiji has clearly become a Police State with the guarantors of law becoming a law unto themselves.

“How can talking about a planned national protest and march be construed as breach of the Public Order Act? Similarly, how can workers who gathered to highlight their plight as well as of their families and children after being laid off their jobs, be a breach of the Public Order Act? Worst of all, they were arrested from a private property that happens to be land owned by their Union and then taken for detention”.

“This is sheer lunacy. It is the Animal Farm in motion where some are clearly more equal than others. The Fiji First Government through the Police have unilaterally determined that Unionists and jobless workers have no rights even if it means the destruction of their livelihoods”.

“This is similar to arbitrary arrests and detention of pro-democracy activists by the security forces following the military coup of December 2006. One would have thought that following the resumption of parliamentary democracy, such illegal acts would become a thing of the past.”

“These events are a sure sign of parliamentary and constitutional dictatorship under the pretext of a true and genuine democracy”.

“It is manifestly clear that this Government does not value the hard work and sacrifices of workers and gives scant regard to their rights and livelihood”.

“This year we have had three examples. Firstly, Air Traffic Controllers who were denied their right to better working conditions and salaries. Instead a Washington based firm has been hired to recruit expatriate Air Traffic Controllers who will be paid expatriate salaries”.

“Then we had teachers being threatened with disciplinary action if they support a planned national protest despite being on leave. Now we have over 2000 workers who are unemployed on the pretext their contracts have expired. Even after giving them termination letters, the Water Authority of Fiji adds salt to the wound by putting out advertisements for the recruitment of workers for similar roles”.

“Why didn’t WAF advertise before the contracts ended, as is normally the case?”

“Threats, intimidation and harassment only harden attitudes. Government may think it can succeed in using these tactics to camouflage the fundamental ills plaguing the nation including working workers’ rights, but it will not resolve the problems”.

“The Government would do well to hear the grievances of the ordinary citizens that is resonating throughout the country”.

We call upon the Police to immediately release all the unionists and workers who have been arrested and detained. 

Authorised by: 

Professor Biman Prasad

Leader

STATEMENT ON THE sri lanka attacks

MONDAY 22ND APRIL 2019

The National Federation Party is deeply shocked and saddened by the deaths of Christian worshippers in Sri Lankan Churches and guests at 3 hotels in the massacre carried out on Easter Sunday. 

We feel the pain and suffering of those who lost their loved ones or were injured in this barbaric act of terror. Their loss is immeasurable and irreplaceable. 

We believe this is 3rd most serious terror attack after 9/11 in September 2001 in terms of loss of life. 

Like the recent incident in Christchurch New Zealand, the worshippers were praying and marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

To be so mercilessly killed by an act of terror on a day that that is synonymous with triumph of truth over violence and terror is incomprehensible. 

This act has shattered the peace of Sri Lanka, which itself almost 10 years ago, came out of an war of many years that was laced with ethnic violence. 

Fiji has had close ties with Sri Lanka for many decades. Our judiciary and magistracy have many Sri Lankan nationals serving as judges and magistrates and they are also synonymous with the corporate and private sectors. 

We convey our heartfelt condolences to the affected families and hope and pray the families of the victims find comfort and solace in their hour of grief. 

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

A fearful government

APRIL 17TH 2019

The frightened and paranoid government of Fiji is now threatening school teachers who might take part in a protest action for better working conditions – even in the school holidays. 

The 12 April 2019 internal memorandum from the Permanent Secretary of Education is an unbelievable document. 

First, she claims that a proposed Fiji Trades Union Congress protest action would be “in contravention of the laws of Fiji”. This is ridiculous. Protest actions can take many forms and many of them are clearly within the laws.

Then she claims that any “incitement or encouragement” of others to take part in protest action would be unlawful.  This is as nonsensical as the statement above. 

On 3 May teachers will be on holiday. The Ministry has no right to tell them where they should be. But the Ministry seems very anxious to tell them where they should not be!

This is a  government that is clearly trying to instil a culture of fear and suppression to mask its own fear of being exposed as a dictatorial administration cloaked in its version of pseudo-democracy.

The Government is afraid that worker protests will unmask its pretence, during the big Asian Development Bank conference it is hosting in the first week of May, that Fiji is a united country with a population that supports the government.

The trade union movement and its leadership should get more emboldened and fight such threats being dished out by a stuttering administration trying to divert attention from the fundamental ills plaguing the nation.

They can run from the people for a little while. But they cannot hide.

Authorised by

Hon. Prof. Biman Prasad

Leader – National Federation Party

RBF Governor shouldn’t mislead the nation

APRIL 16TH 2019

The National Federation Party says the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji must realise that the Fiji First government’s reckless and unsustainable spending is ruining real economic growth as evidenced by several factors instead of politicising the issue.

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad says recent remarks made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji in defence of liquidity levels and economic growth are misleading and far from the reality. 

“The RBF Governor is reported to have told both an economics workshop at University of the South Pacific last Friday and the Fiji Chamber of Commerce economic summit on Monday that there was no liquidity crisis”.

“The Governor said RBF had the authority to reduce its statutory deposits to zero (0) percent to allow liquidity to jump from the current level of $347 million to $1 billion if the need arises”.

“This is a highly irresponsible and illogical statement, similar to the Governor’s earlier statement of last month that there was enough money on RBF vaults to last for 5 years”.

“The Governor’s loose political talk is camouflaging the reality. He knows that his statements in defence of liquidity and the economy are illusory”.

“And he knows that the truth is that commercial banks are offering interest rates of as high as 6% to attract term deposits to boost liquidity levels. He also knows that because of this reason, commercial banks have increased lending rates”.

“The RBF Governor knows that it is impractical to reduce the requirement for statutory deposits to zero percent. It is a ridiculous proposition. Any financial institution, most importantly commercial banks are statutorily required to maintain a certain level of deposits”.

 “The Reserve Bank of Fiji’s Economic Review for February 2019 paints a bleak picture of lack of growth in key economic sectors. Therefore, instead of realistic growth, the economy is consumption-driven and not leading to sustained and real growth”.

“The RBF Governor must know that he has  put himself under the spotlight for being economical with the truth. Despite saying key economic sectors that generate real growth have declined, both the RBF  and Government continue  to forecast positive economic outlook”.

 “This raises questions yet again about RBF’s independence and impartiality”.

“The RBF Governor is obviously parroting a political view despite the harsh reality staring directly at us”.

“The RBF Governor should maintain neutrality and independence of his office and refrain from parroting government’s political position on the state of our economy.  Right now, we seem to be going  through a crisis of confidence in the country”.

“What we need is more confidence building measures in all sectors of our economy  and this can only be done by a properly constituted economic summit to address some of the fundamental concerns that the business community and indeed the general population has”. 

Authorised by

Hon. Prof. Biman Prasad

Leader – National Federation Party