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.
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.