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A-G to stand by PM

Tevita Vuibau
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed for the first time that Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will be by his side when FijiFirst contests the 2018 General Election.

And he says the FijiFirst Government's "success in managing the economy" will be a cornerstone of the campaign.

"I will again be going into the next general election with the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy by my side and the rest of the 49 candidates asking the Fijian people to enable us to continue to lead the journey," he said.

"It is the same successful team that has produced the transformation of the past decade, stability, confidence, consistency, innovation, genuine progress and empowerment."

And he says Fiji can only achieve 10 successive years of economic growth if FijiFirst forms the next government.

"We have now had eight successive years of economic growth in spite of the natural disasters that have caused so much heartbreak for ordinary Fijians. Eight years in which the national pie has grown steadily bigger so that we can give everyone a larger slice," he said.

"We are set to grow the economy this year by 3.8 per cent. And we are on track for a record decade of growth, something that has never happened before in post-independent Fijian history. But that can only happen if FijiFirst wins the next election."

Mr Bainimarama made the comments yesterday in Parliament while delivering his budget response.

"This is not on the back of one budget Madam Speaker but on successive budgets over the last decade, each of them building blocks that we have put in place year by year to achieve our vision of eventually becoming a fully-fledged modern nation state," he said.

Responding to criticism that the budget contained giveaways to entice voters, Mr Bainimarama said every budget was an election budget.

"Madam Speaker, our political opponents are saying that this budget is an elections budget but madam Speaker, every budget is an election budget."

"Because madam Speaker we govern at the behest of the Fijian people and we are in the business of being re-elected to continue the transformation of our beloved nation to take its rightful place in the world."

Mr Bainimarama also lashed out at the Opposition for their critiques of the budget, saying they did not have a vision for Fiji and that they are nitpicking at parts of the budget without considering it holistically.

"Our opponents say the debt is too high, well it is not. Very simple and this is also according to many including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the ratings agency Moody's. These are madam Speaker experts in such matters. Not those from the opposite side or The Fiji Times, or Opposition Times as it is called now."

He said the Government's commitment to the economic prosperity of the Fijian people was shown in lifting the tax threshold from $16,000 to $30,000 and also through measures designed to protect ordinary consumers. The one thing I respectfully ask them to ask themselves, am I better off now than I was 10 years ago? Do I have more opportunities now than I had 10 years ago? Do my children have more opportunity now than 10 years ago? Is Fiji in a better position now than 10 years ago?

"Are we all being treated equally and with dignity? And I believe the resounding answer to that is a big yes."

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