‘No need to buy votes’

GOVERNMENT does not need to buy votes for the record speaks for itself, says Minister for Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Parveen Kumar.

Responding to claims by some political parties that Government was using vote buying tactics to get the support of the public, Mr Kumar said the choice of the people was clear after they had cast their votes during the 2014 election.

Mr Kumar said people knew who had “sold and bought them”, adding that they had clearly showed their thoughts about such people during the 2014 election.

“While we talk about economic growth, let me remind you all that it can only be achieved through unity,” he said while opening a cement factory in Labasa yesterday.

“We need to put the needs of our country before us and not politics, as some lame politicians are doing, using the game for their own survival.

“A few weeks ago my colleague, Minister (for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources) Faiyaz Koya, distributed grants to the very poor people of the community in the North and the very next thing that we hear from the opposition is that it is a handout.”

Responding to Mr Kumar’s statement, Fiji Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry said the program was a blatant vote buying exercise, adding it was evident from the way the cheque disbursement programs were organised.

Mr Chaudhry claimed Government chose its political arm instead of its administrative arm to hand out the cheques.

“If it was a genuine program it would have been given to the administrative arm of the civil service to handout the cheque and not the Prime Minister and the ministers,” he said.

“It does not happen in any other country but only in Fiji and they can delude themselves but the people know what they are doing. We have seen the forms for the applications and it does not have enough scrutiny to screen those that get the cheques.

“They need to remember that the money they are handing out belongs to the taxpayers and money donated by international donors, which needs to be used transparently.”