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#Vote2018 – Pio’s vision for a vibrant Fiji

Given Fiji’s geographical challenges and climatic vulnerabilities, Mr Tabaiwalu believes that a sustainable way of balancing trade is to export services. “It’s a paradigm shift – we are traditionally tied
29 Mar 2018 10:24
#Vote2018 – Pio’s vision for a vibrant Fiji
Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) provisional candidate Pio Tabaiwalu

Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) provisional candidate Pio Tabaiwalu is no stranger to politics.

In fact, politics runs in his blood now.

He speaks with passion about what he knows best – trade negotiation and what he calls building a strong and vibrant economy for Fiji.

Yesterday he spoke about this vision, which is also an integral part of the party manifesto.

“We need to produce a skilled labour force to satisfy the export and local market,” Mr Tabaiwalu said.

“The argument is if you train enough you can actually trade in services – to me that’s the future.

“We cannot export goods to Australia and New Zealand and reduce the trade imbalance – what we can export is services.

“We can open up the skills market – we need to train plumbers, nurses and engineers instead of low-skilled workers who go and pick oranges and apples.”

Name:

  • Pio Tabaiwalu

Age:

  • 58

Village:

  • Navutulevu, Serua, with maternal links to Namaqumaqua, Serua.

Married to:

  • Kitiana Likuceva Sila (Toga, Rewa).
  • First wife was Nanise Tavui (Nasegai, Tavuki, Kadavu) passed away in 2007.

Children:

  • 2 boys and 1 girl

Former party:

  • Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua

Education:

  • Marist Brothers High School
  • University of the South Pacific – Bachelors Degree in Politics/History and English
  • University of Southampton, in England – Masters Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy

WORK HISTORY

  • 2007– current: Multilateral and Regional Trade Consultant.
  • 2006 – Assistant Minister for Trade and Commerce.
  • 2004-2006 – Trade Policy Adviser, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. 2004 – Chief Assistant Secretary (World Trade Organisation) -International Economic Affairs and External Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
  • 2000-2003 – Counsellor Fiji Embassy, Brussels- EU/ ACP Trade, WTO and Multilateral Institutions.
  • 1999-2000 – Chief Assistant Secretary (Director) World Trade Organisation-International Economic Affairs and External Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade
  • 1995-1998 – First Secretary, Trade and Economic Affairs, Fiji Embassy, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 1995 – Principal Assistant Secretary (Aid Co-ordination), International Economic Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
  • 1993-1994 – Senior Industrial Relations Officer- Public Service Commission
  • 1985 -1991 – Head of Department Language, Ministry of Education- Ratu Sukuna Memorial School, Latianara Secondary School and Nasinu Secondary School
  • 1983-85 – Teacher Vunisea Secondary School.

Given Fiji’s geographical challenges and climatic vulnerabilities, Mr Tabaiwalu believes that a sustainable way of balancing trade is to export services.

“It’s a paradigm shift – we are traditionally tied to the traditional sectors of our economy that we have not ventured out,” he said.

He said brain drain was no longer a quantifiable excuse.

Resource Owners

Close to Mr Tabaiwalu’s heart is the empowerment of iTaukei resource owners to what he calls fully realise the value and economic benefits of their natural resources.

“We have a lot of resources, but we remain poor and continue to lag behind economically.

“It is my fervent desire to bring policies to assist resource owners, especially in terms of providing more effective seed capital, training and technical assistance,” he said.

“Lifting the economic wellbeing of resource owners will benefit all communities and the nation as a whole.

“We should not encourage the dependency mentality that is quickly eroding the self confidence and dignity of many of our citizens.”

SODELPA Leadership

Having worked previously under party leader Sitiveni Rabuka, Mr Tabaiwalu believes that he is now a changed man.

“He has become wiser and very consultative.

“Despite his past, we believe that his redemption was the 1997 Constitution which was agreed upon in a multi-party parliament,” he said.

“To us he brings all this experience and he also has the leadership skills.”

Party Politics

Since he first emerged on the political scene in 2006, Mr Tabaiwalu has seen and experienced the highs and lows of party politics.

In the 2014 he held the position of party general secretary.

“Adi Litia Qionibaravi took over the reins in 2016.

“Politics in Fiji is very tribalistic.

“I have been in politics long enough to see that in the party there is always tribalism.”

But to address issues and thrash out ideas, Mr Tabaiwalu said discussion was the way to go.

“This is a political party not a religious group.

“It’s good to have differences.

“It’s a clash of ideas of intelligent people.

“And in a political party it’s good to have a clash of ideas because out of it comes better ideas.

“I’ve been sworn at within the party, but later we shake hands.

“It’s all in the game.”

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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