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Analysis: 2018 Poll a Battle to Counter FijiFirst Govt Popular Policies

Analysis: 2018 Poll a Battle to Counter FijiFirst Govt Popular Policies
June 02
16:36 2017

Opposition political parties that keep attacking the FijiFirst Government without offering better alternatives stand to lose again in the 2018 General Election.

The discerning voters will be able to tell between pure rhetorics and realistic policies.

In the 2014 election, FijiFirst set the benchmark by coming up with unprecedented social policies that instantly became a hit with the ordinary people.

Policies like:

  •  Free school bus fare
  •  Free school tuition up to secondary school
  •  Free Weet-Bix and milk for year one students
  •  Free textbooks in schools
  •  Electricity and water subsidy for those in the lower rung of socio-economic ladder
  •  More than 24,000 are benefitting from the free medicine programme
  •  Poverty Benefit Scheme programme, Care and Protection Allowance or the Social Welfare scheme

The list goes on but it needs to be noted that the FijiFirst Government rode to success on these social policies.

The policies have been complemented by later initiatives like the $10 million startup fund to help iTaukei landowners develop their land and the $1000 grant for ordinary people to start their small businesses. This assistance has been hugely popular.

While casual references to the privileged elite have been made in the past by FijiFirst politicians, the party has come through as a party for the ordinary people, the poor and under-privileged and people with disabilities.

It is most likely that the national Budget to be presented this month will again be a people’s Budget to reflect the party’s policies.

What is amazing is that with all this social spending, the Government has been able to maintain a healthy and robust Budget that continues to reflect a growing economy.

It has done it through prudent financial management, and improved collection of taxes from non-compliant businesses especially. The World Bank’s latest assessment on the Fijian economy that Fijian debt level is manageable vindicates the Government’s performance.

It’s against this backdrop that other parties have to work out their strategies.

So far we have heard very little that would make us sit up and say “here’s an awesome idea that we like.”

Policies that make up a manifesto are not only designed to make us feel good. While they may sound good, they should be realistic and affordable.

Opposition SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka once suggested that tertiary tuitions should be all free. All students would love that but is it financially viable? Students in New Zealand used to enjoy free tertiary tuition. But it ended because it was not sustainable.

We can expect to hear some definite policy ideas from the National Federation Party in its annual general meeting tomorrow.

SODELPA is likely to come up with some of its own new ideas this month in what is expected to be a modified form of its 2014 platform.

Parties should take their cue from the FijiFirst manifesto. It is a waste of time and energy attacking the 2013 Constitution because it is here to stay. Its universal values of equality, the common identity, equal citizenry and secular state, have been adopted by the people. Parties’ focus should be on policies that help people:

  •  Get educated, qualified and secure jobs
  •  Improve their standard of living
  •  Start and develop their own business
  •  Develop their land and resources for economic gains
  •  Stand up against violence against women and children
  •  Stop rape and sexual offences on women and young children.
  •  Help Police fight crime through family and community involvement.

If the Opposition parties want to make any progress they should learn from FijiFirst, not resort to the same old politics of old.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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