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Seasonal Workers ad hoc blacklist ban inhumane- NFP President

MEDIA RELEASE

June 8, 2017

The President of the National Federation Party, Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua has called on the Employment Minister, Jone Usamate to make public all details of the seasonal workers scheme including the plight of those workers in New Zealand that warrants such an inhumane approach to blanket blacklisting.

Mr Tikoduadua said Mr Usamate’s statement where whole villages and settlements are being imposed with penalties of a 4-year ban from the seasonal workers scheme is discriminatory, inhumane and a goes against the principles of international labour practices.

“Why in the interest of balance and fair play, is this Government penalizing a whole village for four years, for the supposed action of a fellow villagers on an overseas scheme? This reeks of provincialism and political sanctioning on areas that the Fiji First government may have discovered as not friendly to them. ”

“Now we have some 25 whole villages being penalized by this Government for four years. How many more villages will be put on this blacklist?”

Tikoduadua said that Minister Usamate’s handling of the recent New Zealand seasonal workers case is symptomatic of the sheer arrogance that is the usual mode for of Fiji First where there is no empathy nor a balanced regard for redress for the worker.”

“The way that the seasonal workers scheme is being implemented needs to be investigated, as we know that this also being used as a vote-buying scheme for our rural communities.”

“What we are now witnessing is the disempowering and demeaning treatment of our citizens, many of them who have been taken straight from their villages to a foreign country for work without much a thought for their care and their support in that country.”

“The fact that that the minister states that this ban is not sudden or a new decision but was “explained” during ministry consultations and recruitment, is exactly what makes the scheme’s implementation untenable.”

“This outcome is simply a knee-jerk reaction from the bad publicity that the current government has received from media reports abroad that highlighted the gross inhumane conditions that our people are subjected to.”

 “A responsive, responsible and ‘equality driven’ Government does not take their decision and “explain” this to the community. It is indicative of an ill thought out policy, devoid of consultation with almost no thought to the wider impact of this on the community, such as travel expense debts that these workers may be worrying about.”

“An ‘equality driven’ government would also ensure that initiatives like this take care of all our communities. At present the current selection criteria of passing physical fitness tests, passing RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment) & an acceptable BMI (Body Mass Index: <29) automatically rules out the vast majority of indo-Fijians and the numbers who have gone on this initiative validate this gross discrimination based on stereotyping. Granted that this particular line of work is labour intensive, there should be a similar initiative that allows for less rigid demands that are not neocolonial in approach.”

“The NFP has stated many times before that employment creation in the country is critical and abdicating our national employment obligations to New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Island countries under seasonal worker schemes and similar initiatives like for teachers is commendable but it is a short-term band-aid solution to the national unemployment and low wage issue.”

“This is now further aggravated if the current scheme results in negative consequential results not just for the worker but for whole communities back in Fiji.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua – President

Mobile: 7196802 Email: viotikoduadua@gmail.com

Lt-Col Pio Tikoduadua Statement on joining NFP NFP President seasonal worker blacklist inhumane media release June 2017

“CHANGE IS COMING”

Address by NFP Leader at NFP Convention Saturday 3rd June Girmit Centre, Lautoka By Hon Professor Biman Prasad

 The Party President, Vice Presidents, General Secretary, Party Executives, Party Elders and Stalwarts, Convention Chair Mr Selwa Nadan, Master of Ceremonies Mr Jagannath Sami, our small but extremely powerful parliamentary caucus of Hon Parmod Chand and Hon Prem Singh, Members, Supporters Ladies and Gentlemen

 I am mightily delighted and privileged to be among you today and to be hosted by our gracious Lautoka Branch. I gratefully acknowledge the hardworking efforts of Mr Nadan and his team ably assisted by our Branch President Mr Frederick Work, Mr Michael Brown, Mr Jagannath Sami and other Branch officials and stalwarts. I also acknowledge all other Branches in ensuring that our members and supporters who wanted to be participate in this significant Convention are here. I am sure that many of us who travelled far and wide to congregate today are enthused and invigorated to be met by such a well-organised and festive atmosphere for today’s AGM and Convention. It is indeed a telling omen of how #TheFeds approach to leadership and governance.

That, many hands and heads make light work if we are all pull together in the same direction. This is testimony to the fact that we are more than ready to overcome challenges facing our nation for its lasting social, political and economic advancement. Friends and colleagues, before the Convention we had the official proceedings which is the AGM. I would also like to commend our party branches who also spoke with one accord and made resolutions on the continuing evolution of our party workings. I am sure we are all honoured by the election of our new office bearers, who will be ably led by our new President Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua. He succeeds one of our Vice Presidents Mr Semi Titoko, who set the ball rolling with his team last September by hosting our AGM and Convention in Rakiraki. Despite the district being ravaged by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Convention was attended by 700 people. This is a step forward from last September and we can only grow in leaps and bounds from here. And of course, he takes over from our former President Roko Tupou Draunidalo who resigned in January this year after being ousted from Parliament through a lengthy but unreasonable and unfair suspension. Lieutenant- Colonel Tikoduadua has outlined his reasons why he firmly believes in NFP. One of the reasons that he clearly stated when he made the announcement in April was that the NFP never shirked its principles in its 54 years of existence. He also emphasized that the NFP has always been ably led by leaders who were statesmen and always put national interest above everything else. And those leaders were our founding father Mr Ambalal Dahyabhai Patel, Mr Siddiq Moidin Koya, Mr Harish Sharma and Honourable Justice Jai Ram Reddy. They were giants of their time in ability, understanding and perception of the problems facing the people of Fiji. Their achievements are monumental and despite efforts of the current Fiji First and the military governments to distort or change history, these milestones can never be erased. Before quitting his job as Permanent Secretary in the PM’s Office in 2014 to contest the September 2014 elections, Lieutenant-Colonel Tikoduadua, when he called me to inform of his decision said if he would have preferred to contest the elections under the NFP banner. Less than three years after that call, his wish of joining NFP became a reality after having displayed ethics and political morality to resign as a senior Cabinet Minister of the current Government, after only less than 9 months into the job for reasons outlined by him. That is hallmark of the man. He could have stayed on, shirked his principles and meekly succumbed to the trappings of power and a lucrative $200,000 annual salary. But he did not. Friends and colleagues, Lieutenant-Colonel Tikoduadua leads a highly capable and truly multiracial team of dedicated and committed team of office bearers in a year that we want to be a defining moment in Fiji’s history. And you all know what I am talking about. Friends and colleagues, the last time we gathered in Rakiraki for the AGM we were directly immersed into some very dire realities of life after 3 TC Winston. The sight of Penang Sangam School with its roof still crudely covered with blue tarpaulin which was, even then, a telling indicator of the slow and almost lax attitude of the Government on prioritising the basic needs of its voters. Yet, the Government is quite content to take an international coterie of advisors and Public Relations consultants to the climate change meetings. But we do not need Qorvis or any other PR consultant. We do not need spin doctors to camouflage the painful realities facing our people. At times I wonder whether Qorvis is working for Government or Fiji First. Probably for the first time in our history we have an overseas PR firm being paid millions of dollars of taxpayers funds ever since they were hired. But spin doctors do not provide sound and sensible solutions. Friends and colleagues, many of you would have seen and heard the parliament debate last week. I want to pay particular note to the debate on the “civil service reforms” that I posed a question on, on Thursday, 25 May. The response to that question was both juvenile and obfuscated, but you civil servants listening in, will know that already.

The NFP therefore extended an official invitation to FICTU General Secretary, Mr Attar Singh and veteran Trade Union Mr Pramod Rae to present to share their expertise on the issue. Because we regard the rights of our workers as extremely important. I am aware that many are keen to understand some of our policy positions leading up to the election campaign. I do not intend to disappoint you and the people of Fiji. As much it is ideal to reveal policy details in an election manifesto, it is the wish of the people, expressed during our listening campaign throughout the country to reveal some broad policies of what an NFP Government will do after the elections. We had already announced both in and outside Parliament what we will do to either reverse or repeal anti-people Government policies and new initiatives. Some of these have been namely: –

1. Building a new sugar mill in Penang, Rakiraki

2. Implementing a minimum guaranteed price of $100 per tonne of cane for the next four years to revive our sugar industry and 4 improve the livelihood of 200,000 people directly and indirectly dependent on the industry

3. Reversing the Village By Laws if it is implemented because it is designed to control the lives of our village i-taukei community. Similarly, we will repeal the Rotuma Land Bill if it is enacted.

4. Reduce the salaries of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers by 25% and through Parliament appoint an independent emoluments committee to review salaries to bring relativity in salaries

5. Remove contract based employment in the civil service and ensure employment is permanent in nature

6. Hold elections for the Sugar Cane Growers Council so that growers as largest stakeholders in the industry have a legitimate voice

7. Repeal Bills 19 and 20 – The Reform of the Sugarcane Industry and Sugar Cane Growers Fund (Amendment) Bill which have been thrice rejected by growers, should they be forced down the throats of growers

8. Hold local government elections and elections for advisory councils Like I stated earlier, details will be outlined in our manifesto. However, today I will make three major policy announcements. They are on wages, cost of living and health. Our firm position is that Fiji needs a living a “Living Wage”, which in our view cannot be taken as a stand-alone approach, but rather as a suite of measures that are all necessary and synergetically necessary to alleviate poverty and hardship, among our people who need the “leg up” more. We cannot rise as a nation, if those where the need is the greatest, are not cultivated first as part of the equation. The “rise” must begin from the ground up.  The poverty trends that we have, are distressing. The triggers cut across the board our races. It has particularly doubled for our i-taukei community. For better or for worse, those cultural obligations are not for anyone to pass judgment on, but rather are for our iTaukei brothers and sisters to negotiate, and to attempt to socially engineer what is appropriate, for example what is happening with the Village By-Laws will be an exercise in futility.

The best made regulations and laws, require ratification — hearts and minds — of those who are directly involved. A legal or regulatory imposition in any form, like the Constitution, will always waver in terms of mandate. Our “Living Wage” suite of measures, is for a minimum of $200/week OR $5/hour NET for those on a minimum wage. These are not ideas just made up on a whim. We have analysed the trends, and the figures and it is very, very possible. Grant the NFP the social contract to make it happen, and we will. The current minimum wage rate of $2.32 an hour is simply insufficient for a livelihood of a family of four. This rate means our workers on minimum wage earn 104.40 for a 45 hour working week. Even if the wage rate is increased to $2.68 it will be $120.60. Recently the Minister for Economy justified the minimum wage during his budget consultation by saying the rate was for unskilled workers like house girls and grass cutters. He is demeaning our unskilled workers and non-unionised workers. The unionized unskilled workers are paid far more. For example the Suva City Council pays $4.29 an hour to unskilled workers who are engaged in performing labour work. This is because the workers are unionized and their wage rates are negotiated. But do not worry. We will outline detailed policies on this in our manifesto. The second brief policy announcement that I want to make is that an NFP Government will increase the number of basic food items to 15 from the current 7 items plus medicine. Our low income families deserve more than 7 items. And all 15 items in the food basket offered by an NFP Government will be zero-rated, meaning there will be no VAT payable on them. 6 The current government betrayed its election promise by imposing VAT of 9% on 7 basic items plus even prescription medicine when their manifesto clearly stated they would remain zero-rated. This means that the reduction of VAT to 9% was a gimmick and betrayal of the trust placed on this Government. By imposing VAT on these 7 items and prescription medication, Government is raking in $108.6 million in revenue. The food basket of all 15 zero rated items will be listed in our manifesto. And you will not be disappointed. Friends and colleagues, the third policy announcement is that an NFP Government will establish a National Health Service to look after our public health system. We have seen that political bureaucracy has failed. The state of our health and medical services have become a blight on the nation. It has deteriorated to such an extent that our people have lost confidence in our health system. We have seen: –

• Deaths of newborn babies in our major hospitals this year due to an outbreak of virus inside the hospitals

• Lack of facilities like even beddings, beds and cutlery

• Poor quality of food

• Lack of doctors and specialists

• Lack of diagnostic equipment and deteriorating state of equipment that is available

• Malfunctioning equipment

• Lack of medication and medicines

• Lack of chemicals like x-ray processing agents

• Deteriorating infrastructure including even hospital toilets The list can go on and on but there has been no solution in sight.

At least under this government. It even cannot allocate more funding towards kidney dialysis. It only allocates $300,00 annually while we have been asking for a minimum of two million dollars. But our motions in parliament get defeated. We hope this Budget at least allocates more funding towards dialysis. But do not despair friends and colleagues. We have the solution.  In a major reform to our health and medical system, we will: – Create a National Health Service (NHS), which will be an independent entity tasked with managing the Hospitals in the country. The NHS will be given the necessary resources, and very specific KPIs for achievement. All hospital infrastructure will be transferred to the NHS, all doctors, nurses, etc will become employees of the NHA which will realign their salaries and working conditions, and ensure that the best of the services possible are delivered to the people of the country, Fiji wide, even in the smallest village in the country; even in the remotest island where our people stay.

1. The major KPI (key performance indicator) of the NHS would be quality national health coverage. There must never be any citizen who goes without the best health consultancy and treatment ever. The days of people being unable to see a doctor, traveling great distances to the hospital and then after hours of wait being told that there is no chemicals for x-rays, must become a thing of the past. It will become a thing of the past under NFP Government.

2. NFP will build a Top Quality Tertiary Hospital facility in the Country, which will carry out most of the procedures relating to core ailments people have here. The current government is incapable of doing so. NFP will work with top hospitals of the World, like Apollo, and ensure that we build a top tertiary hospital in Fiji of international standards.

3. The NHS will be responsible for all hospital and medical services like recruitment of doctors and nurses, purchase of essential drugs and medication, improve procurement policies to eradicate drug shortage in hospitals and identify and purchase latest diagnostic equipment. This will be a four year project with substantial funding from Government. Political bureaucracy will be non-existent. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues the rules governing the elections right now leaves much to be desired. As a member of very concerned Opposition political parties we are petitioning the Electoral Commission that the “laws as they are” need urgent revisions and we anticipate that as a collective, we will commence a nation-wide campaign on the changes required.  We all know that electoral integrity is vital to a truly credible free and fair elections. That is why the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) made several pertinent recommendations that necessitates a change in our laws. The MOG was an international group. It was made up of reputable personnel. MOG recommended changes to the Media Decree, Political Parties Decree and the Electoral Decree. Most importantly it recommended that the design of the ballot paper be changed as a priority. But this government has ignored the recommendations until now. We also want the balloting and counting process to change. We want police presence outside of every polling room and not 50 metres away as was the case in 2014. We want the ballot papers to have serial numbers and to be stamped and signed by the presiding officers – not a voter signing that he or she has received a ballot paper. We want the counting procedures to change. What is the use of counting votes at every polling station if it is not the final result? Why are final results tabulated at the national count centre after being fed into a computer system that we do not know about? Friends and colleagues, today is the start of our national campaign to make all of you aware of what difficulties we face with an unfair and lopsided electoral system. We will also tell the international community of our concerns and how their recommendations through MOG have been ignored. I said lopsided and how this system is not transparent and doesn’t create a level playing field. This is why. This is related to electioneering. We understand that on Tuesday this week, there was a meeting arranged by the Fiji Roads Authority in Namaka Road, Nadi where they invited 4 roadwork contractors namely: Fairdeal, Pratap Chand, MR Dayal and Flametree to submit URGENT quotations by Friday (yesterday), for about 4km of roadworks to be carried out in Ba. The quotations sought were for 4 specific areas of roadworks for Ba: (1) Rarawai Feeder Road, Cemetary Road: 980m x 6m width (2) Veisaru Road: 360m x 7m width (3) Valele Road: 800m x 6m width (4) Navatukoula Road: 1,400m x 6m width 9 Now, the most pressing question to be answered by the Minister is this: Why is Ba being prioritised in such an untransparent manner like this? Why are other roadwork contractors being excluded from tendering by such an exclusive group? FRA Board must come out an explain why this is happening right under their noses. They are ultimately accountable to the taxpayers of Fiji and have been since 2012 enjoying the largest slice of the national budget. I turn now to an issue, that is at the heart of deep concern in our Party so much so that we spend much time deliberating and talking through solutions with our iTaukei colleagues, for our Landowners around our yaqona bowl. It is not political point-scoring for the NFP to speak about this. Our esteemed party elders, had laid that standard down many years ago. I’d like to quote from Justice Jai Ram Reddy’s historic speech that he made on Friday, 06 June 1997 to the Great Council of Chiefs, in presenting the 1997 Constitution. He said to the Great Council of Chiefs: “Let me reaffirm that we honour your place, and the place of your people, as the first inhabitants of Fiji. We recognize, and have always recognized, the unique and special role of this council. We seek not domination, indeed we cannot dominate – we are not the majority ethnic group in this multicultural nation. You are. What we seek is partnership. We seek a country whose children of all races grow up with a deep understanding and respect for each other’s cultures languages and traditions. We seek a country which encourages the best and the brightest – indeed, encourages all its people, of all races – to work together. We seek not to threaten your security, but to protect it. For in your security lies the basis for our own.” In a speech that I made titled “Fiji Vision 2030” at a Rotary Club meeting on 12 June 2014, I shared some thoughts on my vision for Fiji by 2030. I had detailed then that my vision for an i-Taukei at Ease with Modernity and Tradition, is one where our i-Taukei community in 2030 is supremely confident and secure of its place at the heart of Fiji and its unique place in the world. Collaborating with other parties, I had committed to, in my Vision 2030 for Fiji, to work through the NFP to ensure that needed laws are in place, and controversy with respect to protective elements of such laws long made redundant. My commitment to our the i-Taukei peoples has not wavered in the least. In fact, it has only strengthened my resolve., for it is under our mango 10 tree, where we will all find liberation and self-determination, just as our party founders did in 1963. To that end, our policy position on our i-Taukei landowning communities that will be released much later, is that we will also develop a suite of measures that position our i-Taukei landowners on a platform whereby their native land can be developed with their free, prior and informed consent, insulated by Government incentives just like what we have already proposed for the sugar sector, where they receive what is long overdue in terms of fairness and is sustainable.

This will be far above the pittance that they receive from land leases. The suite of measures, akin to our package of measures announced today, will be structured with our i-Taukei communities, with them in the driver’s seat. That is our promise. Recognising land as i-taukei identity and place, we will also ensure among others that their traditional and cultural concerns are addressed – which any responsible, empathic Government would do. On this issue also, we are advised that the debilitating burdens placed on our iTaukei communities for whom the Soli Ni Yasana, levied to all iTaukei males over 21 annually, now foots the bill for 100% of the operational costs for the provincial offices. The provincial offices are now run by Provincial Administrators who are government appointees. If this situation is happening – it is sad day for our iTaukei males who are taxed three times: Tax, VAT and the soli ni yasana levy. We need clarification of this from the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs. We do not question the wisdom of the levy. That is a conversation for the iTaukei governance structures to discuss through their traditional processes, but what we do question is the almost non-existent returns to our iTaukei communities who meet this annual soli ni yasana levy, if it is not generating returns in initiatives that escalate their own selfdetermination aspirations. The soli ni yasana cannot be treated as an additional ATM for the Government’s running of its affairs. So, working from the ground up — akin to I have laid out earlier in our “Living Wage” suite of measures is the way forward. We have consulted widely. We know that this too, is very, very possible. 11 Friends and Colleagues… Our 54 years strong party history of making things happen politically, even from the sideline seats of Opposition, is testament to our capabilities. And now – be assured that the NFP will provide to you the most competent, effective, fearless, and ethical set of candidates. Every single one of our candidates will be able to stand on their own feet and be able to greatly contribute in either Parliament or Cabinet where we will be governed by a set of democratic rules that respects each other’s voice, Because, it is as I had stated earlier in my speech, the ethos of the NFP that was born under the magnificent mango tree that many hands and heads make light work — all pulling together in the same direction. There is no space in the NFP ship for self-centred egos. We all keep each other in check. Even I, as Party Leader, am accountable to our Management Board. Friends and colleagues, please join me in this journey for change. Join me in spreading our message to every corner of the country. Change is coming…. Change is Inevitable. Let us march in unison to realise and fulfill our vision for Change. May God Bless NFP May God bless Fiji

NFP LEADER 2017 NFP Convention Speech June 2017 (1) (1)

Click link below for full video of AGM:

https://youtu.be/R4nuINtp8Dk

Address by NFP President- By Lt-Col Pio Tikoduadua

NFP Convention 2017

Girmit Centre, Lautoka

3rd June 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaskar, Asalam Malekum, Ni Hao, Noaia ‘e Mauri, and a very Good morning to you all. 

I am deeply honored and privileged to address you today, as an Itaukei that is a proud member of the National Federation Party. My spirit is humbled at the expressions of confidence in me to co-lead the charge with you to CAUSE CHANGE at the helm of our national leadership in 2018. 

Change that will put the people back at the centre of our national heartbeat. Change that will put Fijians back at the helm of decision making in Fiji. Changes that will help us accept that the true measure of our national pride are not derived from the lights that brighten up our towns and cities at night, but are from the flickering flames of candles and kerosene lamps that light up the darkest corners of our land. 

Change that recognize that whilst we are one, we are also many. Change that recognizes that being different is healthy and that one size does not fit all.  Change that will demonstrate that the sum of our national will to grow, is determined by the people and not by two people only. Change that recognizes that whoever or whatever is the loudest may not necessarily be best for Fiji

Change to demonstrate that throwing money at a problem does not necessarily solve it.  CHANGE IS COMING….FIJI.  Change is here and it is coming to your homes and to homes near you. And the driver for that change is Team NFP. We The FEDS are geared to make that change for you. 

The changes we demand is a change in the national leadership from party’s that have had a chance to make a real difference for our people and have failed to unite us, to a breed of new leaders in a party backed up by more than half a century of experience, in Team NFP.

Since joining the Fiji Public Service in 1985, I have spent 30 years of my adult life serving the people of Fiji in more ways than one. 25 of those years in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.  The most memorable of those years in the force were when I was a peacekeeper for the United Nations in Lebanon and in East Timor. I have also served in Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Sinai, Egypt and in the Solomon Islands under the Regional Assistance Mission. Throughout these peacekeeping missions I encountered the face of human suffering and death. Conditions that were brought about by human conflict that resorted to violence to address their grievances.

Also during my service in the RFMF I was involved in the political upheavals of 2000 and in 2007, contributing in ways that I could to restore civilian rule and true democracy. Similarly to my experiences in peacekeeping I witnessed how violence broke down the very fabrics that held our communities together. These were some of the saddest moments of my life. I witnessed how members of the same family were pitted against each other. I saw how people of different races living in the same communities waged violence on each other. At the same time, I witnessed many acts of courage displayed by many people that came to the aid of those who were victimized. I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to stand up against discrimination, intimidation and violence. That I would propagate for understanding, tolerance, love and forgiveness.

These principles have influenced my decisions in the past and have contributed in a major way to my joining the National Federation Party.

Unfortunately for Fiji, I have witnessed how our governance today is slowly sliding Fiji back into that space where the darkness that led to 2000 and 2006 prevailing and rearing its ugly head again. Fiji needs bold, genuine, selfless leadership that will fairly address the grievances of all communities and compassionately consider issues on their merits. We have all experienced or witnessed  the suppression of rights of the people to be heard. The nation in my view has been held to ransom by a dictatorial rule exploiting the very democratic process of parliament.

The time has come for all of that to change. The Indo-Fijian communities should no longer be duped into believing that their security is only guaranteed by a Bainimarama in power. The actions of the Itaukei in our history of upheavals must no longer be used as an excuse to building a physical security environment that will deter them from expressing their rights under the constitution. 

It has been almost 20 years since 2000 and it has been 10 years since 2006. The same excuses to suppressing the itaukei interests cannot be used to protect the rights of Indo-Fijians. Under the 2013 constitution we are all apparently equals and our rights to self- determination are protected. Any government elected by the people must stand on its own two feet defending its own position without having to resort to employing or influencing the security forces to protect its interest. 

With us in the crowd today are close to 300 people from Wainibuka in Tailevu. People that were branded as rebels from 2000. They are law abiding people who believe in the power of democracy, who believe in the power of the people and in the democratic process. They have not resorted to violence in a bid to have their voices heard. There concerns in 2000 remains true today. However they have lost confidence in the government of the day and of those that exploited their good will in 2000 to protect their interest. 

They have taken that bold first step to turn to the party they had once defamed, believing that their voices will be heard fairly with us, with a willingness  to compromise on their hardened political views.

The itaukei and indo Fijians today must now take that first bold step to meet each other beyond half way. Fiji needs us to take these steps. Our government must do more beyond expressions in the law to build our society to one that is truly accepting of,  and accommodating to our differences. Ultimately, our national security is guaranteed in each other. Our security is not guaranteed in expressions of equality and in the law that forces it down our throats. They need to come from the heart and our deep conviction and faith that all men are created equal.

Fiji is big enough to accommodate all our people. It is big enough to encourage respectful but honest debate and discussions on our unique situation. There is the political will in NFP to lead the charge to rebuild and change the views of our people. But first we must take that bold step to leave our comfort zones and walk the talk. We need to believe that there is enough good will out there amongst our people to make it work. 

The NFP through its leadership is committed to making it work. We have leaders who genuinely believe and trust in the goodwill of our people to accommodate and accept each other genuinely.

I have witnessed many an occasion where current and past political leaders use the race card for political gain. They speak one thing and do the exact opposite.  Political leaders that exploited their powers and influence in the security forces to further their own personal ambition. The RFMF is a force for good and has a huge tonne of responsibility to protect all our people – from external threats. These powers should not be used by anyone as leverage to remain in power, or to suppress the human rights of our people. Therefore we must not be afraid to live our rights, to express our rights as guaranteed in the constitution. The media must be free of hassle to report freely on the sentiments of the people. The media must not take sides and deal and report on issues with fairness. They must represent the will of the people on government.

Fiji is a society of many different communities. None of these communities have rights that are more equal than others. All deserve to be heard fairly and to be treated fairly under the law. Therefore no one should intimidate indo-fijians anymore by proclaiming that they are their only guarantee of security. Your security lies squarely on the good will of all our people particularly the itaukei. The itaukei must be free to live their cultures and their traditions without being dictated upon. They need the space and the enabling environment  to make all feel at home in Fiji – we are after all a very accommodating people.

We at NFP are committed to making this work. We have the will to make it work. I have the will to make it work.  We will be hampered greatly if we are not in a position of power in 2018 to make it work. So I call on the electorate of Fiji, VOTE NFP to achieve this outcome for our people and for Fiji.

 Thank you, Dhaniyavaad and Vinaka vakalevu.

 NFP President 2017 Convention Speech June 2017

Click Link Below for full AGM videos:

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Biman ‘removed’

 

The Fiji Times – page 3 : Nasik Swami Friday, April 28, 2017

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=398397

OPPOSITION Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has removed National
Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad as the shadow minister for economy after the party’s decision not to form a coalition with SODELPA or any other party for next year’s general election. Ro Teimumu told The Fiji Times yesterday that this was the decision of SODELPA caucus.
However, she personally believes Prof Prasad is the best person and most qualified to fulfil the role of the shadow minister for economy and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) until his resignation.
In a letter to Prof Prasad on Wednesday, Ro Teimumu said: “As you have publicly stated that NFP will not partner or coalesce with any other party prior to the 2018 election, it is therefore imperative to SODELPA to find a parliamentary platform to make known and publicise issues that will benefit us from the 2017/2018 Budget”.
“Our members (SODELPA MPs) now believe that it is now an opportune time for a member of the Public Accounts Committee to make the appropriate response to the 2017-2018 Budget addresses,” Ro Teimumu said.
“So now he (Prof Prasad) has resigned from the PAC and Standing Orders have changed and the chair for the committee is now a government nominee.”
Ro Teimumu said she was not forced by SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka to remove Prof Prasad.
Prof Prasad confirmed receiving the letter from Ro Teimumu.
“I have been removed as shadow minister for economy. While it means I will not deliver the official reply to the 2017-18 Budget, this will not prevent the NFP from effectively dissecting the budget and advocating issues affecting all our citizens,” he said.
He thanked Ro Teimumu for having the confidence in him to perform the roles of shadow minister for economy and chairman of PAC until he resigned in May last year after changes to the Standing Orders.
“These were important Opposition parliamentary roles required to be performed effectively and efficiently,” Prof Prasad said.
“These are parliamentary roles and have nothing to do with the fact that the NFP is a party on its own and not in a political or parliamentary coalition with any party.”

Response to Budget

Lt. Pio Tikoduadua replies to Nemani’s article.

April 20, 2017

 

Mr Nemani Delaibatiki

Managing Editor (Training)

Fiji Sun

SUVA

 

Bula Nemani

You wrote an interesting analysis piece yesterday on my understanding of Parliamentary caucus rules. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, but I beg to differ. I believe under the Media Code of Conduct I am entitled to the opportunity to reply to any commentary on me, so I am offering to you this short reply for your consideration. I hope that as a responsible newspaper and in the interests of balance – and considering an alternative viewpoint – you would consider it for publication.

 

You may reach me on my mobile 719 6802.

Pio Tikoduadua

 

On Wednesday 19 April Nemani Delaibatiki wrote an “analysis” piece in the Fiji Sun headed “Pio Tikoduadua’s Lack of Understanding of How Parties Work Shows Through Now.” He was commenting on the incident that caused me to leave the Fiji First Government in 2015. This was my disagreement with Prime Minister Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney General Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on how to handle the dissent of Fiji First MP Dr Neil Sharma.

Nemani suggests that I do not understand how political parties work or the need for party discipline in parliamentary voting.  This criticism is certainly new. I never suffered such criticism when I was a member of the Fiji First Party government!

You do not need to be a genius to know that a governing party needs all of its MPs to vote for its position on important legislation. If its MPs do not, the governing party does not achieve its policy aims and it is not being faithful to the voters who elected it.

But Dr Sharma did not vote against government legislation. He voted with the Opposition on a Friday afternoon adjournment motion, the kind where Parliament expresses a view about a particular issue, often raised by the Opposition.

Adjournment motions do not spend government money. They do not create new laws. They are a chance for MPs to discuss with each other what the people are talking about.  Often the Opposition takes advantage of this opportunity. The Opposition also represents citizens of our country and their voices should also be heard.  Adjournment motions are an opportunity for the Government to talk less and listen more.

I do not even recall the exact terms of the motion. I think it called for action on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).  Dr Sharma is a medical doctor. He is a former Minister for Health. No doubt he felt strongly about these issues. He voted with the Opposition.

There is a paranoid element in the Fiji First Party that treats any sign of dissension as a threat which must be immediately suppressed.  This is similar to the Soviet Union in the time of Josef Stalin. In Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s words, Dr Sharma had to be “made an example”. He had to be forced out of Parliament to warn other MPs not to do the same.

The Fiji First Party has 32 out of 50 seats in Parliament.  This was an adjournment motion. It did not compel the Government to do anything (except listen to some opposing views for a few a minutes).

For anyone who is paying attention, NCDs are right now the biggest threat to the health and well-being of Fiji’s people. If a Government MP votes with the Opposition, that is a wake-up call for the Government.  The Government needs to listen and learn about why that MP feels so strongly that he would put at risk his relationship with his fellow party members.

Dissent, in the right measure, strengthens, not weakens, organisations. It means that we are keeping an open mind and looking for better ways to meet our goals.

Weak people fear dissent. They are not confident that their arguments are better than the dissenters.  They are afraid of other people being seen to be better than they are.

So, Nemani, party discipline certainly has its place in Parliamentary government. But imagination, tolerance and listening to other points of view is how you strengthen your party for the future.  People who know that you are listening to them, not dictating to them or threatening them, are the people who will vote with you when you really need the support.

That is how strong political parties work. The same is true of nations.

 

NFP WILL REPEAL PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATIONS DECREE

A National Federation Party Government will repeal the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree and will, through Parliament, establish an independent emoluments commission to look at salaries, perks and privileges of Members of Parliament.

 

Until the determination is set by a Parliamentary emoluments commission, the salaries of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers will be automatically reduced by 25% from the current exorbitantly highly and self-determined salaries done by the Fiji First Government.  Similarly, rates of allowances and per diem will be reduced.

 

The independent emoluments commission will determine the salaries of all public office holders including the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker.  Unlike before there is no relativity of the salaries of office holders to those of the Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament.

 

It must be recalled that the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree was promulgated by the Fiji First Government on 3rd October 2014, 3 days before the resumption of parliamentary democracy. This basically means that the Fiji First Government prescribed for themselves what their salaries should be!

 

Furthermore, while paying themselves exorbitant salaries, Government is stifling resources and funding for the Opposition. Worse of all, the weekly salary and allowances of the Prime Minister is manifestly more than what an ordinary worker would earn in a year on the meagre minimum wage rate of $2.32 an hour.

 

The Attorney General and Minister for Economy’s excuse that large salaries for Government Ministers avoids corruption is pathetic and self-serving. He conveniently sidestepped the issue that was raised by students during his Budget consultation who probably know much better.

 

 

There continues to be one rule for Government Ministers and one rule for everybody else. The lower ranks of public servants are under intense scrutiny through anti-corruption laws and FICAC (Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption).

 

Against this backdrop the Attorney General justifies payment of unilaterally imposed large salaries for Government Ministers under the pretext of preventing them from being tempted into corruption.

 

On 29th September last year, parliamentarians voted for themselves, the PM and Cabinet Ministers, a massive increase in allowances and per diem. Only the NFP voted against it and refused to accept the increased allowances or personally benefit from it. Any increased allowances paid to our Members is used for relief assistance. Members of Parliament voting for a monetary increase for themselves based on a report done by themselves breaks every fibre of transparency, accountability and good governance.

 

The Leader of the Opposition and Opposition MPs have also contributed 10% of their annual salary of $50,000 towards relief work for TC Winston. The NFP Leader has contributed 50% of his annual salary of $50,000. There were no such reciprocal measures done by Fiji First Government despite enjoying massive salaries.

 

The salary levels of the PM and Government Ministers is unprecedented in our history. All except four Cabinet Ministers are earning $185,000 per annum. Three Ministers are receiving $200,000 per annum. The salary of the Attorney General is set at $235,0000 annually.

 

 

And the Prime Minister is paid $328,750 per annum. This is a 210% increase from the base salary of the PM in 2006 before the coup. The Prime Minister’s overseas travel per diem has increased by 200% from post election levels. If he travels to New Zealand, he will receive almost $3,000 per night. This is the least amount of per diems that he will receive, if compared against travel to Europe or the United States or Asia.

 

The people of Fiji need to be reminded that at the time of the coup, Commodore Josaia Voreqe famously claimed no one in his team would profit from the coup. Ten years on, he now pays himself the biggest prime ministerial salary in Fiji’s history. This is yet another forgotten and shattered promise on the part of Fiji First.

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

 

NFP LEADER- We will repeal Remunerations Decree – Media Release April 2017

 http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=397348

 

NFP- NO Principle Trade-off

THE FIJI TIMES; BY Aqela Susu Wednesday, April 19 2017

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?ref=archive&id=397227

THE National Federation Party will not compromise its principles and position in respect to coups, says party leader Professor Biman Prasad. His comment comes after the inclusion of former minister for infrastructure and transport in the FijiFirst government Pio Tikoduadua into the party.
He said NFP remained the only party in the country that never supported a coup and would never do so. “There is no compromise in the party’s position in respect to our opposition to the coups and our opposition to a government born out of the coup,” he said.
“We do not see any contradiction in what the party has always stood for and Mr Tikoduadua’s entry into the party does not change that long held and principled position of the party in respect to coups.
“Mr Tikoduadua was not even in Fiji when the coup took place. Yet he was a serving military officer, he remained in the military and he became a significant member of the civil service in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Prof Prasad said since their meeting at the United Nations Roundtable a few years back, it was clear that Mr Tikoduadua wanted good, progressive, stable and a democratic Fiji.
“He shared the values of the NFP at that time, the principles on which the NFP stood. He has joined the party because he shares the party’s principles and the values and it is a common ground with his own thinking on where this country should go. “We have no doubts at all about welcoming him with open arms. We believe that the party must accept individuals with similar principles and
values.
“It’s not about whether Mr Tikoduadua was a civil servant in the militaryregime. There are other civil servants there and there were other military officers and non-military officers who chose to serve as civil servants. “The definition of civil servants is that they remain the servant of the people and Mr Tikoduadua in my view and in the party’s view was a servant of the people of this country as a senior civil servant.” Prof Prasad said the party has been getting positive responses from many of its supporters after Mr Tikoduadua’s declaration of interest to apply to contest next year’s poll on a NFP ticket. “I know Mr Tikoduadua has a lot of support and there have been a lot of positive reactions from all groups of people, including many young people. “Having being a significant politician and individual himself, we look forward to him playing a very important role in the party between now and the election and after the election.”

NFP Boost

Aqela Susu
Sunday, April 16, 2017 Fiji Times

Former FijiFirst member and Government Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Pio Tikoduadua speaks to the media during a press conference at the National Federation Party office in Tamavua, Suva on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

TWO years after he resigned from the FijiFirst-led Government in Parliament, former minister for infrastructure and transport Pio Tikoduadua has declared he will apply to contest next year’s election on a National Federation Party ticket.

He made this announcement during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Tamavua, Suva yesterday.

Mr Tikoduadua resigned from Government in May 2015 citing health reasons associated with cancer. He said his health had improved in the past two years, which had led to his re-entry into politics.

But yesterday Mr Tikoduadua claimed that apart from his health condition, another factor that led to his resignation was a disagreement he had with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“In 2015, a FijiFirst party member of Parliament who was a backbencher voted with the Opposition on a parliamentary motion on health issues.

He did this for reasons of conscience.

“This was courageous and principled, even if it was politically unwise. Some of my fellow ministers called for him to resign. I was not one of them.

“I gave my opinion to the PM that we should show flexibility and forgiveness,” he claimed.

“For me, this was an opportunity for the Government to listen and learn about why that one of its MPs had felt so strongly about an issue that he would vote with the Opposition.”

He claimed Mr Bainimarama had initially accepted and agreed with his recommendation and he later informed the MP that the matter was resolved.

“Unfortunately, the PM then took advice of the Attorney-General and changed his mind. I went back to argue my case again. He then informed me that my opinion did not matter,” Mr Tikoduadua alleged.

“I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.”

Mr Tikoduadua said loyalty must be given to a leader but it must also be returned.

However, this was not the case in this matter, he claimed.

“Fiji’s biggest problem at the moment is not that my opinion does not matter. It is that nobody’s opinion matters, except those of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. No-one else’s views are sought. No concession is made to any person with a different opinion. Nobody else can ever be right and they can never be wrong,” he claimed.

“This approach is deeply destructive of democracy and national unity. It divides Fiji it means that we lack a common vision and we operate in a climate of fear and restrictiveness. This is no way to run a country. This is no way to solve Fiji’s problems.”

When contacted for comments to those claims yesterday, Mr Bainimarama labelled Mr Tikoduadua’s statement as “irrelevant” and said he would not comment further on the issue.

“I have told all the media it’s not relevant. His comments are irrelevant,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Several attempts to obtain a comment from A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum regarding the claims proved futile when this edition went to press last night.

Mr Tikoduadua also addressed his decision to work with the military government after the 2006 coup saying that he personally considered this to be a continuation of his military duty to the commander RFMF.

“I was part of the military government. I cannot and do not ignore that fact.

“I believed, rightly or wrongly, that the military could help to create an effective and sustainable democracy in Fiji. And whether I was right or wrong, I must accept responsibility for that fact,” he said.

April 15, 2017: Statement by the NFP Leader on Lt-Col Pio Tikoduadua joining the NFP

(As delivered today by Acting NFP President, Semi Titoko)

I am very pleased that Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua has decided to join us. As he has said, we got to know each other well during the UN Roundtable process.

This was a man who, although he was loyal to the RFMF and its then Commander, could listen with respect to our opposing views. He could accept criticism and look for common ground.

He was never arrogant to us. He built trust with us and welcomed our ideas. If the Prime Minister had listened more to Pio and less to other people, Fiji would be a very different place now.

People should clearly understand that Lt-Col Tikoduadua is not an ordinary politician. Many Fiji First Party MPs are unhappy with the Government’s direction, but they stay silent. On the other hand, Lt-Col Tikoduadua gave up his position in 2015 as a matter of principle.

He gave up his Ministerial and Parliamentary salaries. perks and privileges. Very few politicians would make such a sacrifice. We welcome Lt-Col Tikoduadua and his supporters to our party. We are proud that they have chosen to join us.

In next year’s general elections, NFP will put before the people of Fiji a strong line-up of candidates. These will be people who are well known in the community and who have the deep skills and experience required to work in the next Government. We intend to make the next election a serious contest for the people’s votes. We will be making further announcements in the weeks and months ahead about new people, new policies and our vision for the future.

We are inviting everyone to join us – as party members, candidates, volunteers or supporters – to help to change Fiji for the better. We believe that for NFP the best is yet to come.

Professor Biman Prasad
NFP Leader

Remember and Help Those Who Are Suffering.

As we enter the Easter long weekend and as Christians all over the world and in Fiji commemorate Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we remember our many ordinary people who today endure suffering.

Let us remember and reach out to our suffering countrymen and women and see in them the message of Easter, and of the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Of those that are homeless and of which we see on the streets of our towns and cities; of those that are wondering what the next day will be with or without one full meal; of those that are sick or suffer from family tragedies; of those that still live and school in tents; of those whose dignity have been discarded.

Let us look and reach beyond our comfortable circle and communities – to those across from us, who endure suffering and condemnation.

Let us reach out and help them and continue with this message of Easter into our daily lives – not in just in words but in our own deeds.

May you all have a blessed Easter

Professor Biman Prasad

Leader Of NFP

Easter Message by NFP Leader