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Failed Medicine Scheme.

The NFP Leader, Hon Prof Biman Prasad responds to the ministerial statement by the Health Minister and states that the Free Medicine scheme is not not working.

The NFP Leader urged the Government to re-design this scheme by putting this Free Medicine funds aside and allowing the pharmacies to procure the listed medicines themselves, and claiming back from Government rather than the current wholesale procurement by the Government Pharmacist.

Hon Prof Biman said that hopefully this approach would reduce the bottlenecks and inefficiencies and improve the supply chain, and allowed private companies like pharmacists to get on with business.

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Prof Biman Prasad

“The honourable minister also seems to be confused, when he talks about previous governments, and he talks about reforms from 2013, he does not realise that from 2006 right up to 2014 there was another Bainimarama Government, the non-elected one, and many of the reforms that the then Minister for Education undertook during that period, almost 50 per cent of them have been reversed by this Minister for Education, Madam Speaker,” Prof Prasad said in response.

Prof Prasad said while the provision of facilities was important and appreciated there were still fundamental questions surrounding quality of education.

“There was no review, no serious study by experts to look at what those reforms led to, what were their outcomes and how far these new reforms have produced outcomes that align with quality.

“For example, there are bits here and there which suggest that there is no basis for the honourable minister to claim that all these reforms are produced in quality outcomes, quality students and what you see, Madam Speaker, some of that is now translating into tertiary institutions. Students with marks are finding all sorts of pathways to get into the university and we have serious issues with respect to those graduates and the quality of those graduates.”

Prof Prasad also said he thought teachers in this country were totally disappointed, demoralised and unhappy about the way in which some of the reforms were undertaken and how they had been dealt with.

“This is the kind of reform that I am talking about that has been instituted by this Government and the ministry by not seriously taking into account what is going on.

“I want the Government to consider this, unless they appoint an independent expert group to look at what has happened over the last few years, how these reforms have been implemented in the areas of curriculum, in the areas of training of teachers and hiring and firing of teachers.

“We will not be sure what these reforms are doing, Madam Speaker. I think what this Government has done is put the education system on a path which appears to be very, very dangerous in terms of the kind of outcome that we are going to produce in the end.

“And quality is one thing that the Honourable Minister for Education and this Government does not understand in education.”

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Fiji’s Porous Borders a serious concern: NFP

The entry of the Iranian refugee, Mr Ahwazi Arab Loghman Sawari, into the country through Nadi International Airport lay’s bare Fiji’s porous borders, which is a serious threat to our national security.

In 2011 the then Defence, National Security and Immigration Minister in the military government Joketani Cokanasiga conceded that there were ‘challenges posed by our porous borders continue to render “non-state actors” the ability to thrive in trans-national criminal activities and exploit gaps in our legislative and poorly resourced agencies that are tasked to oversee the security of our borders’.

Six years later, nothing seems to have changed or improved. But magnanimously, we now want to open up to “climate change refugees” while working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The man entered Fiji under a false name on a passport whose origin has not been revealed. This is a serious threat where border security and primary lines are concerned. The Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration must take charge of this and oversee a comprehensive background check because Mr Sawari seems to have effortlessly secured documentation for a flight out of PNG.

This is not easy, especially for someone who was in detention. Either he had the documents on him that could not be detected by Australian and PNG authorities, or he obtained them from people while still in detention on Manus Island.

In an interview with Fairfax media from Fiji, the Iranian refugee had seemingly planned his escape and flight to Fiji for many months, somehow securing the funds for the trip. Mr Sawari told Fairfax Media that he cobbled together the money for the airfare from several sources over several months. How could anyone in detention achieve this?

While NFP sympathises with Mr Sawari on humanitarian grounds and we acknowledge that his rights and welfare is important, this cannot be at the expense of the safety and security of the greater populace who are Fiji citizens.

We are extremely concerned that there are no procedures and domestic laws in place to process individuals of immigration status like this. And this is evidenced by the statement from the Immigration Director that they are awaiting his contact with them, signaling a lack of urgency where our porous borders could pose serious issues for the rest of the Pacific region, as we are a central hub of movement in the South Pacific and beyond.

Mr Sawari has already declared his intention to stay in Fiji and not Australia or PNG. The Immigration Department is lackadaisical in dealing with this case and this falls squarely on the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister to manage expeditiously given the precedent such an incident has set.

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

NFP Leader says put words into action

PS for Sugar is right: NFP Leader

By Shanal Sivan. Fiji One News, Tuesday 3 January, 2017

NFP Leader says put words into action

The NFP is putting politics aside and wants to work with Government to improve the performance of the Sugar industry.

The Permanent secretary for Sugar Yogesh Karan had said through the media last week that our sugar industry needs to be revived with proper consultation and that farmers need to be included in the dialogue concerning the industry.

The National Federation Party says common sense has now prevailed.

“For the first time in the last ten years there seems to have been some very positive statements from the Sugar Ministry and indeed from the Prime Minister’s Permanent Secretary the PS responsible for Sugar Mr Yogesh Karan, it appears that there is now some understanding as to the real issues facing the Sugar Industry.” said Dr. Biman Prasad.

Prasad says 2017 should not be a year to do trials and test new strategies to revive the sugar industry rather make solid decisions to increase performance in the industry.

“I think Mr Karan is right that we need to concentrate in the farmers we need to bring confidence back into the farmers of this country, and this is why the NFp in the last budget debate moved the motion that for the next 3 years we should allocate $50m a year for the next three years and provide a guaranteed price of roughly about $90 per tonne, so that we can bring back the confidence we can ensure that farmers have some income left after taking away the cost and that they have an incentive to remain Sugar Cane Farmers.”

The PS for Sugar Yogesh Karan told Fiji One News he is due to visit the farmers in the Western Division.

Karan wished not to comment any further to comments made by the opposition party NFP.