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Acting Prime Minister Clarifies Consultation Exercise

Acting Prime Minister Clarifies Consultation Exercise
SODELPA Opposition member Niko Nawaikula outside Parliament on April 16, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua
April 18
11:00 2018

Opposition MP calls inclusion of youths a vote-buying move.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-Gener­al Aiyaz Sayed-Khai­yum says school students have been included in the National Budget consulta­tions around the country because they are being em­powered as future leaders of this country.

The acting Prime Minister made the clarification in Parliament after questions raised by Opposition SO­DELPA MP Niko Nawaikula on the consultations held in schools and involving stu­dents.

Mr Nawaikula said: “The consultations to school chil­dren clearly is a ‘vote buying exercise’, especially when the minister attends.”

He said it may be good that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum attended, but this should have been limited to school teachers and the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Economy. In response, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “Madam Speaker, Honour­able Nawaikula’s statement encapsulates precisely the thinking of the opposition.

“They do not respect our youth, they do not under­stand where youths are com­ing from and they do not see our youths as the immediate future leaders of this coun­try.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this showed how the Opposi­tion viewed Fijian youths.

He clarified that the reason youths were consulted on a yearly basis for every budget was that they needed to be empowered with knowledge, to know they are part of the democratic process.

“They (Opposition) talk about democracy all the time, not knowing what it means, this is part of a dem­ocratic process where you empower all members of our society,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“This age-old thinking in Fiji that only the elderly people should be making the decision, should be swept away.”

Moreover, Mr Sayed-Khai­yum said, when consulta­tions were held for high school and tertiary students they were asked if they wanted their lecturers and teachers to be part of the consultations.

“We want them to feel free and express their views,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said students didn’t want their lecturers and teachers to stay because most of the complaints were precisely about the calibre of lectur­ers and lack of facilities.

He added that students were given the opportunity to air their views about the Ministry of Education.

“The students felt strongly about this. Students are hon­est because we provide an empowering environment,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Edited by Epineri Vula


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