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ANALYSIS: Seven Issues That Could Determine Outcome Of The 2018 Election

ANALYSIS: Seven Issues That Could  Determine Outcome  Of The 2018 Election
June 01
11:00 2018

The 2018 General Election has largely been defined so far by personal at­tacks, opinion polling and reaction­ary statements.

Significant policy differences exist between the parties.

While those differences will be hashed out on the campaign trail in the coming weeks, some topics are destined to define the 2018 General Election. Here are seven of the is­sues to watch:

  1. The Economy and Jobs

Voters want to see a strong economy – an economy that provides jobs.

So far FijiFirst has shown that it has been managing the economy very well even after being hit by the devastating Tropical Cyclone Winston. It has recorded eight years of con­secutive economic growth. It has brought down the unemployment rate to five per cent in 2015-2016, the lowest it has ever been in 15 years according to the Bureau of Statistics.

But in Rakiraki this week, SODELPA lead­er Sitiveni Rabuka, campaigning there with businessman Shiu Raj, said people needed jobs and business not handouts, referring to cash grants for small business and flood-cyclone assistance.

  1. Security, Peace and Stability

Even when people have good jobs and a comfortable lifestyle, the terrible events that followed the 1987 and 2000 coups still linger in their minds. Can they happen again, they ask?

One thing they know is that Prime Minis­ter Voreqe Bainimarama has given his as­surance that his FijiFirst Government will ensure that part of history is not repeated and everyone is kept safe.

The 2013 Constitution was formulated to create the proper environment for peace and stability to flourish.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces is now entrusted with the responsibility to be in charge of internal security. Previously, it was the responsibility of the Police.

While Police still take care of law and or­der it works with the RFMF on difficult and high-risk operations like drug raids.

  1. Cost of Living

This is what people talk about daily, the price of fresh food in the markets or the gro­cery cost at the supermarket.

The impact has been cushioned by Govern­ment through the free education, school bus fares and subsidies for electricity, water and medicine for those in the lower wrung of the economic ladder.

  1. Better Health and Maternity Service

The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has an­nounced that a 200-bed maternity hospital will be built at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. It is part of the overall mission of the Government to improve the services to the people.

At the same time it recognises that there is still a lot to be done in the health sector. One of the continuing challenges is to cut down the waiting time at the outpatient’s wards of hospitals.

  1. Roads, Infrastructure, Traffic Jams

While roads are being upgraded around the country, traffic jams at peak hour peri­ods (morning and afternoon) continue to hit motorists in urban centres. This has been attributed to the rapidly increasing number of cars on our roads. While this is a sign of a growing economy, town and country plan­ners are working overtime on how to allevi­ate this problem. The Government is also looking at the possibility of introducing trains to ease the land transport pressure

  1. Climate Change

This has become a modern day reality for Fijians. Our involvement in climate change talks through COP23 president Mr Baini­marama has raised public awareness of the dangers we face because of sea level rise and wild weather patterns like TC Winston in 2016 and cyclones Josie and Keni recently.

  1. Strong Political Leadership

Many want to see a leader who they can trust to protect them and look after their interests. They see Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as filling this shoe very well.

While he shows decisive leadership, people have also seen his compassionate nature. No other leader or PM has been to some of the remotest parts of the country as Mr Baini­marama has done. He is accessible and re­sponsive to people who seek his help just like the seven Ratu Kadavulevu School prefects who saw him on Wednesday about their sus­pended principal, Peni Senikarawa.

Empty promises will not cut it for voters. They will be looking for substance in par­ties’ policies, programmes that they do not have to pay for. They will also look for simple messages that mean something for them.

Once voters know the truth they will vote on facts. Some will vote on hope – inspired by the political rhetorics.

But the bottom line will be that they will vote on issues close to their heart – issues that affect them daily.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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