Posts tagged Voreqe Bainimarama

PRIME MINISTER VOREQE BAINIMARAMA WITH PACIFIC DESTINATIONZ CELEBRATES 15TH ANNIVERSARY

PM Bainimarama – Speech at Opening of the 2013 Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) Congress

Bula Vinaka and a good morning.

We gather here today at an important juncture of our history – the unveiling yesterday of the new Constitution that will take us to the election next year.

It’s the job of accountants, of course, to take stock of the financial positions of individuals and companies. So I can think of nowhere better than to take stock of the position of our nation at this point and outline where I think we go from here.

It’s a great pleasure to be here in Nadi among you for this conference, which has become an important venue, over the years, to share ideas and improve the quality of the national debate.

By now, most of you will be aware of the major points of the Constitution, that will pave the way for the first genuine democracy in Fiji next year of equal votes of equal value.

I’m very proud of this document. It embodies everything that I envisaged when I set out six and a half years ago to put Fiji on a different path, to put an end to the lost years, the wasted years.

We shared a vision that instead of being mired in communal politics and division, instead of corruption and self interest, instead of unsound economic policies, we would fulfill the dreams of our people at independence that Fiji be an economic powerhouse at the crossroads of the Pacific – a thriving, united beacon for our neighbours and the rest of the world – Fiji, the way the World should be.

Yes, that was the dream in 1970 but along the way, we lost our way. Well now, we’re back on course.

It has been a difficult process and I wish we could have been spared some of the pain. I wish more people – especially some of our neighbours – could have had a better understanding of what we were trying to achieve.

But I’m convinced that for all the challenges, history will eventually judge us favourably. Because our revolution – and that’s what it is – has finally laid the foundations for a fairer, more equal society and the development of a modern, progressive state.

By any measure, I believe the 2013 Constitution meets the standards of any of the world’s great democracies, which incidentally, we intend to become.

Instead of a discriminatory electoral system, we finally have equal votes of equal value – a true level playing field for every Fijian.

Instead of the rights of the elite being entrenched, the rights of every Fijian are entrenched.

Instead of entrenching division, we are a building and strengthening the ability of all of our people – whoever they are – to finally work together as One Nation. One People putting Fiji first.

The Constitution also provides for strong and independent institutions, not a system in which only personalities matter.

I’m especially proud of a provision in this Constitution that may not be at the top of the list for some but may prove, in the long term, to be the most important of all…

And that is the requirement that every primary school child in Fiji be given instruction in how to speak i’Taukei and
Fiji Hindi.

Imagine a new Fiji in which every citizen has a working knowledge of the two main vernaculars, moving freely in and out of each other’s languages, trading stories and jokes.

My Government was determined to break the barrier of schools that were ethnically based and named . Now we go one step further in our vision to create One Fiji by breaking down the barrier of communication.

So this Constitution is more than just a document to get us to the election next year. It is the manifesto of a genuine revolution that we had to have. And I firmly believe that future generations will look back and say “ 2013 was the turning point, when the principle of equality embraced by all the world’s great democracies, was finally embraced in Fiji”.

Like most revolutions, not everyone will agree. But it is a noble cause and we should not apologise for it.

We had to end the long but in the end, rapid decline of our nation, the entrenched corruption, the weakening of our independent institutions, the neglect of our infrastructure, the absence of sound financial and economic management, the entrenching of communal divisions and the overall loss of faith in Fiji that saw a large proportion of our people leave for greener pastures.

We had to destroy the notion that some people were more equal than others. We had to destroy the notion that those born to privilege had special status over the rest simply by right of birth. We had to restore hope for every Fijian – irrespective of their socio-economic background – that better days lie ahead. And that everyone has a place in our national life.

We were determined to create a level playing field for every Fijian and we have. We are determined to create the first genuine democracy in our history and we will. And the document that we released yesterday will take us there.

I’m pleased to report, even after 24 hours, that the response to the final version of the Constitution has been positive. In fact, people have said to me that any country would be proud of it. Because it embodies all of the major principles embraced by any advanced democracy – equality, liberty, an independent judiciary, a Bill of Rights. Plus accountability and transparency provisions that Fiji has never had and will guarantee the better standard of governance that we all know Fiji needs and deserves.

It hasn’t been an easy process. We’d all hoped that the Ghai Commission would give us a blueprint that was workable, achievable and affordable. Instead, we were presented with a document that entrenched privilege and provided us with layers of governance, bureaucracy and red tape that we didn’t need.

So we unashamedly set about formulating a Draft Constitution that incorporated the best of the Ghai Draft and which we then took to the people in a series of consultations around the country, inviting them to give us their views on what the final version should contain.

We received 1093 written submissions and countless verbal suggestions, as my ministers and I toured the country speaking to ordinary Fijians and hearing about their concerns.

They told us they wanted certain changes. They especially said they wanted the final version to contain specific provisions that guarantee and strengthen the protection of I’Taukei, Rotuman and Banaban land. And to also strengthen the rights of those many Fijians who lease land from others.

They asked and we listened. Those provisions are now entrenched in the final version of the Constitution. We have provided ordinary people with the security they requested. And the liars and the scaremongers who exploited their fears for their own base political purposes have been exposed.

Where do we go from here? Well, of course, to the election next year. I’m always bemused to read and hear that it will never happen. That Bainimarama will never give up power. That it’s all a cruel trick. As each month progresses, we are answering these critics not with words but with deeds. Each block is gradually being put into place to fulfill the promises that we made and we will honour. You have my guarantee of that.

We do not make any decisions for short-term political gain. We make decisions for the long term benefit of every Fijian.

Before September 30th, 2014, I will subject myself to the nation’s will under the provisions of the document we unveiled yesterday. I will form a political party and my party will submit itself to the collective will of the 540 thousand or so Fijians who have already registered for the elections.

We will fight a battle of ideas with our opponents, who were offered a briefing on the Constitution yesterday and didn’t show up. That contest will be free and fair. And we will stand on our record and on the many reforms we still plan for Fiji.

When will I launch the new party? When I’m ready. Because right now, I am concentrating not on my own political fortunes but on the fortunes of the Fijian people, just as my government has for the past six and a half years.

We aren’t just promising better basic services to ordinary people like previous governments, we are delivering them. Better access to education, health, housing, transport, electricity, water, telecommunications, government services, legal aid. Better roads, better sporting facilities. That is my priority and the priority I have set my Ministers every waking hour of every day.

I appeal to the business community to match the Government’s commitment to higher standards of propriety and accountability. For the first time, our new Constitution establishes an Accountability and Transparency Commission that will cover all public office holders.

They’ll also be subjected to a new Code of Conduct and we will be ruthless in enforcing it. We want that same transparency and accountability in the private sector. That means an end to the shady deal, the nod and a wink, the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality that has long been a feature of too much of Fijian commercial life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must stop these practices.

We also have a vision of Fiji punching above its weight in the region and the World. Our leadership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, of the G77 – the biggest voting bloc at the UN – of the world’s peak body for sugar.

Our large contribution to UN peacekeeping – keeping watch over vulnerable men, women and children for more than three decades in troubled parts of the world. Our ambition to be the economic hub of the Pacific – to lead our neighbours into a common market. All this isn’t for ego or to make us feel good. It’s because we are determined for Fiji to fulfill its promise – to fulfill its destiny.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are no longer in decline. We matter. And together, we can make a difference in our region and the world. We are prepared to serve, not only the world through our peacekeeping efforts but our smaller and more vulnerable neighbours. We can be proud that even as we address our own problems, we are still capable of sending our retired teachers, nurses and other professionals to boost standards of education and health in those countries. Because Fijians deliver. Fijians care.

At home, our many reforms over the past few years are starting to produce results. In recent days, we’ve all been buoyed by the news of a more buoyant economy. Projected economic growth will be one of the highest we’ve experienced. And whatever the real figure proves to be, there’s no doubting that there is a new mood in the country, a new wave of optimism about our economic prospects because of the policies of my Government. The tax cuts and investment incentives have helped. But people start spending and investing when they have confidence. And confidence in Fiji – which was once in short order – has not only rebounded but reached new heights.

We do not intend to rest on our reforms. We must continue them. There is still too much corruption, too much tax evasion, too much waste. Business still labours under far too much red tape. Some of our trade unionists still haven’t grasped the reality of 21st century labour relations. We must all work together to increase productivity, reduce inefficiency and provide the investment climate in which real jobs are created and sustained. And sustainable improvements in working terms and conditions are achieved.

And so, ladies and Gentlemen, I ask everyone in this room to commit themselves anew to Government, the private sector and employees working hand in hand to improve our economic performance and the lives of all Fijians.

I commend the final version of the 2013 Constitution to you and encourage you all to familiarize yourselves with its provisions. When the accountants among you do your sums, I’m sure you’ll find that it adds up to a sound blueprint for a new Fiji, a better Fiji – And for the first time in Fijian history – a credible and genuine framework for the achievement of true democracy.

I wish you well in your deliberations.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Keynote Address at CPA Congress 2013 at Fiji Resort

Blueprint for a Better Fiji – The 2013 Constitution is Unveiled

The final version of the 2013 Constitution that will underpin the first genuine democracy in Fijian history has been released to the public. His Excellency the President will give his assent to the document on September 6th. It will be the supreme law of the country and pave the way for elections by September 30th 2014 conducted, for the first time, on the basis of equal votes of equal value. It is in line with the constitutions of some of the world’s most liberal democracies and provides a framework for the development of a modern, progressive state.

As previously flagged by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, the final version differs from the Draft Constitution by containing specific provisions that guarantee and strengthen the protection of communally-owned i’Taukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands. During the consultation process that followed the release of the Draft in March, a large number of submissions were received calling for explicit protection clauses. These have been accepted and incorporated into the final document. They provide greater protection and security for I’Taukei, Rotuman and Banaban land than ever before.
In addition, for the first time, an extra provision gives any landowner the right to a fair share of royalties derived from the exploitation of resources beneath the surface.

The 98-page constitutional document in English has also, for the first time, been translated into the two main vernacular languages – i’Taukei and contemporary Hindi. In the 15 days before His Excellency the President gives his assent on September 6th, members of the public are invited to read the vernacular versions and provide feedback on their accuracy. Some of the legal terms and phraseology in the English language do not have equivalent words in the vernacular and therefore may be open to interpretation.

The Constitution provides for a single chamber 50-member Parliament – up from 45 in the Draft document- which will be the country’s supreme authority and be elected on the basis of one person, one vote, one value. Elections are to be held every four years and every Fijian over the age of 18 is entitled to vote.

In another alteration to the Draft document, individual regional constituencies are abolished. There will be one national constituency covering the whole of Fiji, as in The Netherlands and Israel. And every voter will get one vote, choosing the candidate who they believe best serves their interests under a proportional representation system.

A Prime Minister who commands the party with the most seats in Parliament will head the elected Government and, in line with current practice, a President will be the Head of State and perform the ceremonial function of Commander in Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Among the Constitution’s major provisions are:

· A common and equal citizenry.
· A voting system of equal votes of equal value.
· A secular state and religious liberty.
· An independent and impartial judiciary and equal access to the law.
· The right to legal aid assistance.
· Specific protection of the ownership of I’Taukei and Rotuman lands and recognition of their unique culture, customs, traditions and language.
· The protection of the rights of leaseholders.
· Specific recognition of the culture and language of Indo-Fijians, other Pacific islanders and other immigrants and settlers.
· A Bill of Rights containing specific provisions guaranteeing a range of civil and political rights and, for the first time, social and economic rights. These include the right to education, economic participation, a just minimum wage, transport, housing, food and water, health and social security.
· A free media and freedom of speech, expression, movement and association.
· The safeguarding of the environment.
· The compulsory teaching of the i’Taukei and Fiji Hindi languages at primary school level, along with English as the common language.
· The right to multiple citizenship but a provision that only Fijian citizens be entitled to stand for Parliament.
· The right to fair employment practices.
· The right to join, form or campaign for a political party.
· The right to privacy.
· An Accountability and Transparency Commission which, for the first time, will hold all public office holders accountable.
· A Code of Conduct for public office holders.
· A provision requiring public office holders such as civil servants, members of the disciplined forces and trade unionists to resign before contesting a seat in Parliament.

The release of the Constitution follows a community consultation process during which the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and his team conducted 19 public meetings in urban, rural and maritime areas throughout Fiji, including Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas.

Submissions were also sought and 1,093 written submissions were received.

The Government urges all Fijians to read the full Constitution document, which is available from the following sources:

· In hard copy from the Office of the Solicitor General, Level 7, Suvavou House, Victoria Parade, Suva.
· On the Internet at http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Govt–Publications/Constitution.aspx
· In Friday’s Fiji Sun.

These are some of its highlights in detail:

PREAMBLE:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF FIJI,
RECOGNISING the indigenous people or the iTaukei, their ownership of iTaukei lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language;
RECOGNISING the indigenous people or the Rotuman from the island of Rotuma, their ownership of Rotuman lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language;
RECOGNISING the descendants of the indentured labourers from British India and the Pacific Islands, their culture, customs, traditions and language; and
RECOGNISING the descendants of the immigrants and settlers to Fiji, their culture, customs, traditions and language,
DECLARE that we are all Fijians united by common and equal citizenry;
RECOGNISE the Constitution as the supreme law of our country that provides the framework for the conduct of Government and all Fijians;
COMMIT ourselves to the recognition and protection of human rights, and respect for human dignity;
DECLARE our commitment to justice, national sovereignty and security, social and economic wellbeing, and safeguarding our environment;
HEREBY ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION FOR THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI.
PROTECTION OF i‘TAUKEI, ROTUMAN AND BANABAN LANDS AND OTHER LAND:

28.—(1) The ownership of all iTaukei land shall remain with the customary owners of that land and iTaukei land shall not be permanently alienated, whether by sale, grant, transfer or exchange, except to the State in accordance with section 27.
(2) Any iTaukei land acquired by the State for a public purpose after the commencement of this Constitution under section 27 or under any written law shall revert to the customary owners if the land is no longer required by the State.
(3) The ownership of all Rotuman land shall remain with the customary owners of that land and Rotuman land shall not be permanently alienated, whether by sale, grant, transfer or exchange, except to the State in accordance with section 27.
(4) Any Rotuman land acquired by the State for a public purpose after the commencement of this Constitution under section 27 or under any written law shall revert to the customary owners if the land is no longer required by the State.
(5) The ownership of all Banaban land shall remain with the customary owners of that land and Banaban land shall not be permanently alienated, whether by sale, grant, transfer or exchange, except to the State in accordance with section 27.
(6) Any Banaban land acquired by the State for a public purpose after the commencement of this Constitution under section 27 or under any written law shall revert to the customary owners if the land is no longer required by the State.
29.—(1) All ownership of land, and all rights and interests in land, including land tenancies and leases, that existed immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, shall continue to exist under this Constitution.

Protection of rights and interests in land

(2) All land lessees and tenants have the right to not have their lease or tenancy agreements terminated other than in accordance with their lease or tenancy agreements, and any amendment to any law governing lease or tenancy agreements shall not adversely affect any existing lease or tenancy agreements.
(3) All land that existed as freehold land immediately before the commencement of this Constitution shall remain as freehold land, unless it is sold or is acquired by the State for a public purpose under section 27.

RIGHT OF LANDOWNERS TO FAIR SHARE OF ROYALTIES FOR EXTRACTION OF MINERALS:

30.—(1) All minerals in or under any land or water, are owned by the State, provided however, that the owners of any particular land (whether customary or freehold), or of any particular registered customary fishing rights shall be entitled to receive a fair share of royalties or other money paid to the State in respect of the grant by the State of rights to extract minerals from that land or the seabed in the area of those fishing rights.
(2) A written law may determine the framework for calculating fair shares under subsection (1), taking into account all relevant factors, including the following—
(a) any benefits that the owners received or may receive as a result of mineral exploration or exploitation;
(b) the risk of environmental damage;
(c) any legal obligation of the State to contribute to a fund to meet the cost of preventing, repairing or compensating for any environmental damage;
(d) the cost to the State of administering exploration or exploitation rights;

THE SECULAR STATE:

4.—(1) Religious liberty, as recognised in the Bill of Rights, is a founding principle of the State.
(2) Religious belief is personal.
(3) Religion and the State are separate, which means— (a) the State and all persons holding public office must treat all religions equally; (b) the State and all persons holding public office must not dictate any religious belief;
(c) the State and all persons holding public office must not prefer or advance, by any means, any particular religion, religious denomination, religious belief, or religious practice over another, or over any non- religious belief; and
(d) no person shall assert any religious belief as a legal reason to disregard this Constitution or any other law.

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS:

Right to education

31.—(1) Every person has the right to— (a) early childhood education; (b) primary and secondary education; and (c) further education.
(2) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right—
(a) to free early childhood, primary, secondary and further education; and (b) to education for persons who were unable to complete their primary and secondary education.
(3) Conversational and contemporary iTaukei and Fiji Hindi languages shall be taught as compulsory subjects in all primary schools.
(4) The State may direct any educational institution to teach subjects pertaining to health, civic education and issues of national interest, and any educational institution must comply with any such directions made by the State.
(5) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to economic participation

32.—(1) Every person has the right to full and free participation in the economic life of the nation, which includes the right to choose their own work, trade, occupation, profession or other means of livelihood.
(2) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the rights recognised in subsection (1).
(3) To the extent that it is necessary, a law may limit, or may authorise the limitation of, the rights set out in subsection (1).

Right to work and a just minimum wage

33.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to work and to a just minimum wage.
(2) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to health

38.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to health, and to the conditions and facilities necessary to good health, and to health care services, including reproductive health care.
(2) A person must not be denied emergency medical treatment.
(3) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to reasonable access to transportation

34.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to have reasonable access to transportation.
(2) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to housing and sanitation

35.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to accessible and adequate housing and sanitation.
(2) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to adequate food and water

36.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to be free from hunger, to have adequate food of acceptable quality and to clean and safe water in adequate quantities.
(2) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

Right to social security schemes

37.—(1) The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to social security schemes, whether private or public, for their support in times of need, including the right to such support from public resources if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants.
(2) In applying any right under this section, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, it is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available.

PM Urges Milo Kaji Players to Play Hard

More than 3000 school children participating in the Milo Kaji Rugby Tournament were today urged by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama to play hard and play fair during the four day competition.

This year’s event which was opened by the head of government is the biggest ever Milo Kaji Rugby tournament with more than 3000 players, representing 630 teams from 28 districts.

“To the players, I would like to say that this is your tournament, your time and your playing field. Play hard and play fair and may the best team win,” PM Bainimarama said

PM Bainimarama while acknowledging the significant role that rugby plays in Fiji also thanked parents, coaches and supporters of the Milo Kaji rugby tournament.

“To the teachers, coaches, parents, supporters and friends, without your tremendous support your sons wouldn’t be here today for this tournament,” PM Bainimarama said.

“I applaud you for the countless support, sleepless nights and dedication that you have given to the players.”

Players that travelled from all over Fiji were also acknowledged by the Prime Minister.

“Without you there would be no tournament,” PM Bainimarama said.

The first game for the tournament saw the Suva Under 13 team defeat Navosa 22 -0.

Fiji Extends Well Wishes for India’s Independence Day Celebrations

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has sent Fiji’s well wishes to the people of India who celebrated their 67th Independence Day anniversary this week.

In a note to his Indian counterpart, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister Bainimarama said he was confident that the true spirit of friendship and cooperation that “provides the unbreakable bond between the two nations and its people will be further strengthened in the years ahead”.

“The strong framework of democracy set by your founding fathers, the people of India have built a nation that is strong and proud,” PM Bainimarama said.

“Fiji attributes great value to the bi-lateral relations that exists between the two nations and is appreciative of the many forms of assistance that we have received from the Government of India and the goodwill that your country has shown toward us,” the head of Fijian Government added.

PM Bainimarama said the people of Fiji sent their best wishes for the continued well being and happiness of the Indian people the world over.

India gained independence in 1947 from Great Britain after a long struggle for freedom.

Fiji and India established diplomatic ties right after Fiji gained independence in 1970 and the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) is famously known to have been established in Fiji before it was opened anywhere else in the world.

It is through the ICC that 25 Fijian students are annually chosen to study in India through an Indian Government scholarship besides other technical assistance from the Asian nation.

Rugby: Opening of Fiji Primary Schools Rugby Union 2013 Milo Kaji Games – PM Bainimarama

A very good morning to Players, Parents, Teachers, Supporters and Game Organisers.

It is my pleasure to be your chief guest today at this annual rugby event which is the country’s largest and most important sporting competition for school boys in Fiji.

This year is one of the biggest ever Milo Kaji Rugby Tournaments with more than 3,000 players representing 630 teams from 28 Districts at the four day event. I would therefore like to welcome all the players that have travelled from all over Fiji to be here today. Without you there would be no tournament.

Rugby has always played an important role in Fiji.

With teams representing every province in Fiji I can only imagine the amount of joy, amount of excitement and determination that will be in store for us for the next four days and I would like to thank Nestle for sponsoring the Milo Kaji once again – the eighth year in a row.

To the teachers, coaches, parents, supporters and friends, without your tremendous support your sons wouldn’t be here today for this tournament.

I applaud you for the countless support, sleepless nights and dedication that you have given to the players. Vinaka vakalevu!

To the players, I would like to say that this is your tournament, your time and your playing field. Play hard and play fair and may the best team win.

I now declare the 2013 Milo Kaji competition open.
Vinaka vakalevu.

Internet: Statement From the Prime Minister on Internet Shops – PM Bainimarama

I have directed the police to reverse their decision to close Internet shops in Suva before their normal closing time. All Internet shops from today will be able to open until the hours allowed under their specific business licenses.

It has been brought to my attention that some parents have been leaving their children in Internet shops while they go to nightclubs. I urge those parents to stop this irresponsible behavior. As parents, we owe it to our children to not only nurture them but keep them in a safe environment and provide them with proper guidance.

It has also been brought to my attention that some of these shops have been used as places for drug taking and access to pornography.

The police are rightly cracking down on the operators of these Internet shops. However, those shop owners who are doing the right thing should not be penalised because of the illegal and irresponsible behavior of a minority.

Meetings have taken place between the Minister for Local Government, the police and the Special Administrator of Suva to develop a code of conduct for Internet shops.

We must allow all Fijians, and especially our young people, who want to access Internet shops the ability to do so at every opportunity.

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Attends the Late Tui Ba’s Funeral. August 15th, 2013.

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Opens 2nd National Climate Change Summit (Itaukei Language)