Dis­abled will not be left be­hind: PM

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - KATHRIN KR­ISHNA, FILIPE NAIGULEVU BA, SUVA Edited by Ru­si­ate Mataika Feed­back: kathrin.kr­ishna@fi­jisun.com.fj

Gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to leave no Fi­jian be­hind in­clud­ing the dis­abled, Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama says. He was ad­dress­ing the peo­ple of Ba dur­ing con­sul­ta­tions yes­ter­day.

He said that ef­forts in the 2016/2017 Bud­get to max­imise the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties of the dis­abled was a ma­jor fo­cus area. “I am proud of the Bud­get pro­vi­sion that pro­vides a 300 per­cent tax de­duc­tion to any em­ployer who hires a dis­abled per­son for the first three years of their em­ploy­ment,” he said.

“This will open up all sorts of op­por­tu­ni­ties for dis­abled peo­ple to ob­tain work and I urge em­ploy­ers to em­brace this new era of in­clu­sion and em­pow­er­ment.”

He urged those with dis­abil­i­ties to stand up for them­selves and make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Mr Bain­i­marama said the first two rows of seats on all pub­lic buses would be set aside for those with spe­cial needs.

Mean­while, sixty-nine-year old Philip Michael Fil­lipo is thank­ful to Gov­ern­ment for hear­ing the plight of per­sons liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties. Mr Filipo, who has been con­fined to a wheel­chair be­cause of an ac­ci­dent in 1972, is cur­rently a mem­ber of the Fiji Na­tional Coun­cil for Dis­abled Per­sons and has been part of the or­gan­i­sa­tion since its early years.

He was re­act­ing to the al­lo­ca­tions made to peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties in the 2016-2017 Bud­get an­nounce­ment made in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day. “I thank the Gov­ern­ment, the Prime Min­is­ter and the Min­is­ter for Fi­nance for think­ing of peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties and giv­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to bet­ter them­selves from what they are now,” he said. Mr Filipo said some of the chal­lenges he faced over the years was ac­ces­si­bil­ity as a para­plegic. “It would be nice if Gov­ern­ment could talk to trans­port providers for them to bring in th­ese buses that are ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple with wheel­chairs.

“It’s not only the wheel­chair peo­ple; the el­derly and those who use walk­ing sticks.” Mr Filipo, who had worked in Par­lia­ment and a for­mer Reg­is­trar of Ti­tles, has urged em­ploy­ers to see the po­ten­tial in peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties. Mr Filipo has also called on su­per­mar­kets and sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties to in­clude ramps or wider walk­ways for peo­ple con­fined to wheel chairs. “I’m re­ally glad that the Gov­ern­ment is com­ing in now with not only be­ing vo­cal but do­ing things that raises the bar,” he said. “Most of them would have fam­i­lies, some of them al­ready have fam­i­lies but they can’t af­ford them­selves only if they had a bet­ter job.” Vis­ually im­paired Mi­lika Roro who works with FNCDP, shared sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments in thank­ing the Gov­ern­ment for recog­nis­ing the needs and wants of per­sons liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties. “For me per­son­ally when I heard the Bud­get an­nounce­ment last night (Wed­nes­day night) that we the coun­cil have been given an al­lo­ca­tion,” she said. FNCDP ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr Si­tiveni Yanuyanutawa said the an­nounce­ment of the Bud­get brought a spirit of Christ­mas to them. “We were so happy of what had been al­lo­cated for us,” Dr Yanuyanutawa said.

Photo: Kathrin Kr­ishna

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama (right), with Com­mis­sioner Western Manasa Tag­i­cak­ibau, in Ba yes­ter­day.

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