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Speaker’s Debate: 9-year-old Asks Minister Koya About Pollution

Speaker’s Debate: 9-year-old Asks Minister Koya About Pollution
Standing: Nine-year-old Qusai Jiwanji while directing his question to Minister Faiyaz Koya at the Parliament Speaker’s Debate last night. Photo: Monica Aguilar.
July 25
11:05 2017

A  nine-year-old student stole the limelight during the question-and-answer session of the Parliament Speaker’s Debate last night.

Qusai Jiwanji, the youngest present at the Grand Pacific Hotel, received applause when he asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya: “What is the Government doing about the pollution in Fiji?”

Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni was pleased to see Qusai raise his hand to ask his question.

Mr Koya replied: “We are doing a lot.

“As you would have seen and one of the things we are doing is about the use of fossil fuel where Government is trying to reduce the fossil fuel we are using.

“The Ministry of Health is working to create awareness.”

Mr Koya talked about the plastic bag tax that the Government would enforce to reduce the pollution.

He also emphasised that Fijians were fortunate when compared to other parts of the world, that we can wake up and see clear blue skies.

Qusai listened attentively as Mr Koya talked about a holistic approach towards reducing pollution including students, businesses and Government working together.

“Yes, Government is very keen to ensure that Fiji is pollution free through our various programmes,” Mr Koya said.


Tourism  Employment

In his remarks, Mr Koya said: “Tourism provides employment opportunities to Fijians directly and indirectly.”

It also provides the most earnings in terms of foreign exchange in comparison to other industries.

Mr Koya said this was attributed largely to visitor arrivals despite the challenges of natural disasters.

“Tourism projects comprised 60 per cent of total foreign direct investments,” he said.


Leakage Claims

Mr Koya also dismissed claims by National Federation Party member, Prem Singh about figures he had highlighted during the debate.

Mr Singh referred to an earlier statement by the former Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor, Barry Whiteside.

Mr Singh said: “Mr Whiteside had said that only 40 cents from every Fiji dollar stays in the country.

“It is no secret that the dollar from tourism is worth less than the dollar earned from sugar, in terms of the multiplier effect,” Mr Singh said.

Mr Koya reiterated Mr Singh’s figures were sourced from an old report.

He also stressed that the Government is working to reduce any leakage.


Tourists Want More

Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington said that although we are famously known for our friendly smiles and white sandy beaches, efficiency, productivity and timeliness are now basic service expectations.

Operators need to step up to international standards of providing service.


Diversification of Fijian tourism products

University of the South Pacific senior lecturer in tourism and hospitality Dawn Gibson said the potential for Fiji’s tourism industry to lead to greater economic prosperity can be dependent on increasing current markets or diversification of Fijian tourism products.

She added this could include improved shopping, duty free, tours and cultural experiences, transport, tour guiding and destination development.


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