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Opinion, Opinion

Delaibatiki’s Say: 2018-2019 National Budget: Bold, Innovative, Strengthens Families

Delaibatiki’s Say: 2018-2019 National Budget: Bold, Innovative, Strengthens Families
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after the 2018-2019 National Budget address by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum on June 28, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News
July 02
13:51 2018
  • This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say for the FBC TV programme ‘4 The Record’ last night.

New measures in the 2018-2019 National Budget to help families like the $1000 paid to parents for a newborn baby, increasing of maternity leave and the introduction of paternity and family care leave , are bold, innovative and a great boost to strengthening Fijian families.

Similar measures are used by the New Zealand and Australian governments as part of social welfare benefits to help parents at the lower end of the socio-economic  ladder. The money may not be the same but it is a start and I am sure it has been worked out on the basis of what we can afford.

Realistically, we cannot offer the same as what NZ and Australia provide for their people.

But it’s the thought behind it that counts. That we need to help the poor and vulnerable in our society.

The more benefits for our disabled are part of this thinking.

Those who are calling this an election Budget would agree that the FijiFirst Government gave out more goodies last year. There were tax cuts and pay rises.

The doctors got hefty salary increases of up to 80 per cent. The nurses also received salary increases. The income tax threshold was raised to $30,000. Those who are earning that salary and below are not paying tax.

The Government was in a position to give out more this year but it didn’t. Obviously it’s taken other considerations to ensure that this is a prudent Budget. So financial prudence has taken precedence over political considerations.

Government has focused on empowering people by helping the family. The measures announced have already caused excitement among families and that has come as no surprise. It’s not only a  smart move but the right way to go. All Government policies should go through a family-friendly filter.

If they will benefit the family they must be good.

When the family is strong the country is strong. Challenges we face in education, health and other sectors are more effectively managed in the family.

In education we may have the best teachers, best facilities and best environment but if the children are not interested in learning then all these resources they are a waste. That’s where the family comes in. If the parents do not see the importance of education then we have a real problem.

There is an obvious need to change the mindset and it requires ongoing education workshop and training at the grassroots level.

Parents, community leaders, village elders, social groups and so on must be engaged to spread the message.

We can no longer accept the excuse that a section of our community live in isolation and therefore cannot access training and services they need.

A concerted public awareness campaign is essential to encourage and attract people to embrace government development initiatives.

Over time we will see a positive change. Let’s hope that the Government builds on its current family initiatives.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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