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Editorial: New Measures To Help The Family Will Go A Long Way To Build Better Fiji

This 2018-2019 National Budget can be called a positive, responsible, prudent and balanced Budget. But one description that best sums up this Budget is that it is a Family Friendly
29 Jun 2018 11:33
Editorial: New Measures To Help The Family Will Go A Long Way To Build Better Fiji

This 2018-2019 National Budget can be called a positive, responsible, prudent and balanced Budget.

But one description that best sums up this Budget is that it is a Family Friendly Budget. This is the common thread that weaves its way through the economic measures announced last night by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the $4.65 billion National Budget for the 2018-2019 financial year.

It empowers Fijian families and gives them strength and stability. The Budget recognises the importance of the family. When the Fijian family is strong, Fiji becomes strong too.

It is where everything begins and ends. The Government has moved in the right direction. If it keeps investing in building strong and stable families, the future of this country looks very bright.

The change that allows mothers to spend more time with their newborn babies at home before they could resume duties will reap dividends.

Studies have shown that there is a special bond that develops between a mother and her baby when they spend more time together in the first few years after birth. It is ideal to have a stay-home mother look after her child.

It will only work for families who can afford it. Increasingly today, economic circumstances require that both parents work. That’s the modern reality we face. The Government has taken steps to address this challenge to keep the family stable and strong.   

The Maternity Leave entitlement has increased from 84 days to 98 days.

For the first time, fathers will have a five-day Paternity Leave and Five-day Family Care Leave.

There will be a 150 per cent tax deduction for employers on salaries and wages paid to employees during Paternity and Family Care Leave.

Every Fijian mother whose household income is below $30,000 will be given a $1000 grant in the HFC Bank for each newborn child registered with the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office.

$500 will be available immediately and $500 can be accessed when the child enters Year 1. This is intended to assist Fijian families by easing the financial burden of parenthood and meeting the needs of their new baby.

This will be catered under the $335million budget for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The cost on kidney dialysis will be subsidised to ease the cost of treatments on patients and their families. Treatments will be offered at $150 for patients with household incomes of over $30,000 while those who fall below the income threshold will be offered a subsidised rate of $75.

$2 million has been set aside to fund the operation of new Kidney Treatment Centres in Suva and Nadi, to address the growing incidence of kidney disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in Fiji.

$47.6million has been allocated to recruit more doctors.

Imported fruits and vegies will now be cheaper because duty has been removed. Families will enjoy a wider range of choices for healthy food.

All those who earn below $20,000 have access to free medicine.

Opposition politicians may call this a vote-buying Budget.

But when Government policies directly benefit the ordinary people, that’s what matters the most. In the end it’s the people, not political rhetoric that count.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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