The First Four Years Have Been A Learn­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

From the open­ing of the new Par­lia­ment in 2014, the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment has not lifted its foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor un­til Par­lia­ment was ad­journed sine die yes­ter­day.

Fiji Sun - - Comment - NE­MANI DE­LAIBATIKI Feed­back: ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day passed the 2018-2019 Na­tional Bud­get af­ter much de­bate. The MPs also passed 14 consequential Bills that will en­sure that the Bud­get was im­ple­mented prop­erly. Yes­ter­day marked the end of the first four-year par­lia­men­tary term of our young democ­racy un­der the 2013 Con­sti­tu­tion. Much has been achieved. The Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment has set a bench­mark for other po­lit­i­cal par­ties to as­pire to if they want to be­come gov­ern­ment. From the open­ing of the new Par­lia­ment in 2014, the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment has not lifted its foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor un­til Par­lia­ment was ad­journed sine die yes­ter­day. We will now await the is­sue of the writ of elec­tion by the Pres­i­dent. The writ will stip­u­late the date. Most of the par­ties have been cam­paign­ing. Fi­jiFirst still has to an­nounce its lineup of pro­vi­sional can­di­dates. But it’s all on now for the par­ties as they go on the hus­tings. Fi­jiFirst, in lat­est opin­ion sur­veys, is polling high and well ahead of other par­ties. The trend re­flects what’s hap­pen­ing on the ground – that Fi­jiFirst is reach­ing out to peo­ple, in­clud­ing those who live in the ru­ral re­mote ar­eas and the mar­itime zones. No amount of pol­i­tics will beat pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments that di­rectly af­fect peo­ple’s lives. Dur­ing th­ese past four years, the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment has rolled out many ini­tia­tives to help or­di­nary Fi­jians, the poor, the weak and vul­ner­a­ble. The pace has been re­lent­less. It’s ob­vi­ous that Fi­jiFirst had de­cided af­ter it won the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion that it would go to work to en­sure that it con­tin­ues to build a bet­ter Fiji. That mo­ment has ar­rived when Fi­jians re­turn to the bal­lot box to choose a gov­ern­ment of their choice. Per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors log­i­cally point to a sec­ond term in of­fice for Fi­jiFirst. The split in the sec­ond-big­gest party in Par­lia­ment, SODELPA, en­hances Fi­jiFirst’s chances. It would need a mir­a­cle for an­other party to win if the out­come of re­cent pub­lic opin­ion polls are any­thing to go by. In Par­lia­ment, the Speaker, Dr Jiko Lu­veni needs a spe­cial men­tion. She has han­dled her role re­mark­ably well given this was her first time. She is also the first fe­male Speaker. Dr Lu­veni had set the stan­dards and given Par­lia­ment the re­spect and dig­nity it de­mands. She stood firm when she was tested by Op­po­si­tion mem­bers. When they dis­cov­ered she was not eas­ily rat­tled, they backed off. She was fair to both sides of the House. Some of her de­ci­sions against Gov­ern­ment mem­bers might have caused some sur­prise. But they were done in the true spirit of par­lia­men­tary tra­di­tion. The con­duct of some MPs, par­tic­u­larly in the Op­po­si­tion, was not up to stan­dard. Af­ter the ear­lier boy­cotts by Op­po­si­tion MPs, they learned that they did not gain any­thing by stay­ing out­side. When they en­gaged the Gov­ern­ment in de­bates in­side Par­lia­ment, they achieved more. So it has been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one th­ese four years. Let’s hope the next four years will be even bet­ter.

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