Fiji's new constitution will focus on education
Fiji's new budget for 2014 will focus on education, more hospitals and better roads.
The Fiji government says its new budget will focus on education, allocating more than half a billion Fiji dollars to the sector in 2014.
The prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who also holds the finance portfolio, delivered the budget in Suva, saying the economy will grow by three percent next year.
Mary Baines listened in to the announcement:
Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the government will fund free education for all primary and secondary school students in Fiji. He says the government will provide $250 per year per student for tuition fees, text book fees and building funds for children in years one to eight - which he says is a dramatic increase from the $30 per child the government currently spends.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: No child will be left behind, and no Fijian parent will ever go to bed again, worrying about how they will meet their children's school fees or any other fees. And far more children will now be able to go to secondary school, and tertiary education, than any other time in our history.
Commodore Bainimarama says students will also be encouraged to pursue tertiary education, with a new low interest tertiary loan scheme to be introduced next year. He says the budget also aims to connect people to water and electricity, affordable housing, health, roads and to create jobs and economic growth. He says this will be financed by the partial divestment of some assets, including Airports Fiji Limited, Fiji Post and the Fiji Electricity Authority.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: Now is the time to reap the rewards of a vastly better investment climate, take advantage of the government's generous investment incentives and create the job that we all know are needed, to give our young people the prosperous future they deserve, which is my government's number one priority.
The regime leader says new hospitals and health care centres will be built, including a new maternity unit in Makoi, Nasinu and new hospitals in Ba and Nausori, and the Lautoka Hospital Emergency department will undergo a complete overhaul.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: The constitution guarantees health care to all Fijians and this budget provides for upgrading some medical facilities and bringing other facilities closer to the people. My government believes that health services should be easily accessible to all Fijians including those living in rural areas.
He says the government will promote greater access to adequate housing and sanitation, by upgrading squatter settlements in urban areas. It has also allocated Fiji $10 million to help young married couples to buy or build their first homes. Commodore Bainimarama says for all sectors to succeed, the government must make a constant investment into infrastructure. He says the Fiji Roads Authority will be provided with an increased budget of Fiji $454 million, and it will also gain funding from outside of the government.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: Major road construction will continue on the Buca Bay-Moto road, the Sigatoka-Serea road, and the Nabouwalu-Dreketi road, all with funding assistance from the Exim Bank of China.
He says the Water Authority of Fiji will also have an increased allocation - in 2014, it will receive Fiji $129 million, an increase of 32 million from 2013. He says the economy is projected to grow by 3.6 percent this year and 3 percent in 2014. The budget is the last before elections promised for next year.
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