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From An Influential Consumer Advocate to Member of Parliament

Premila Kumar is best known for her work as a consumer advocate with a distinguished professional career as trade policy and investment facilitator, environmentalist, teacher and teacher educator. As Chief
20 Nov 2018 13:27
From An Influential Consumer Advocate to Member of Parliament
From left: Jaindra Kumar (husband), newly-elected Member of Parliament Premila Kumar, Aseshmee Kumar (daughter) and Yamal Kumar (son) at their home in Samabula, Suva, on November 19, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

Premila Kumar is best known for her work as a consumer advocate with a distinguished professional career as trade policy and investment facilitator, environmentalist, teacher and teacher educator.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Council of Fiji until July 2018, spanning 12 years, she has not only taken up pressing consumer issues and resolved these through mediation and changes in Government’s policies, but has also turned the organisation into a high profile and dynamic entity – least known prior to 2006.

She became a powerful voice of those who were disadvantaged and exploited by unscrupulous traders and service providers.

She has dealt with issues in practically all areas that affect consumers. Such issues include dealing with the financial sector, (banks, insurance companies); supermarkets; hire purchase organisations, landlord and property owners, and many more.

In the international arena, she has continuously supported Consumers International’s (CI) global work as well as extending support to the Pacific Island countries such as Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati on consumer affairs through attachments and training.

She was a member of the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) from November 2015 to April 2018 and a council member of Consumers International.

Premila was awarded the Executive Woman of the Year Award in 2015 by Women in Business and Fiji Times Award for the Most Influential Woman of the Year in 2010. She has served on various boards and committees.

Ms Kumar obtained her Master of Science degree in the area of Trade and Environment (with Distinction) from the Netherlands.

She also has a Bachelor of Science degree, Post Graduate Diploma in Biology and Post Graduate Certificate in Education.

She is married to Jaindra Karan.


Kumar fights for women, poor, vulnerable

  • The following is a Question and Answer report by MP Premila Kumar conducted by Fiji Sun Managing Editor News Jyoti Pratibha

Premila Kumar is already a household name. She made her mark as a vocal consumer advocate when she headed the Consumer Council of Fiji as its chief executive officer.

Now, people will get to know her as our new parliamentarian and could also be a Cabinet minister in the FijiFirst Government.

She is one of ten women who have made it to Parliament.

The Fiji Sun caught up with her yesterday at her home, where she was still doing what she does best – multitasking with ease.

1. How do you feel knowing you have made it into Parliament?

I feel elated that people voted me in and they would like to see me in the Parliament. As a newcomer I feel it’s just a change in job description, which can be very challenging and rewarding. I have been exposed to the work of Parliament through my past jobs, but being in the Parliament to make policies is very exciting and more challenging.

2. What are some of the issues close to your heart that you will be raising?

Our policies and priorities are mentioned in the manifesto and it will be our role as Government to work for the betterment of all our citizens.

During our campaign I realised people were not aware of their legal rights and what the Government has done for the poor, vulnerable, disadvantaged, rural dwellers, farmers, women and children. First, we need to raise that awareness so that people understand the policies and priorities of the Government and how they impact the lives of people in all works of life.

Other areas are the creation of employment for our youth, more emphasis on sustainable social policies and ensuring economic growth through increase in investment; focusing more on housing and environment together with education, health and continued infrastructure development are key areas of focus.

I will definitely be able to contribute meaningfully in these areas because of my experience.

3. Who has been your biggest fan and support in your fight in this election?

My family has been very supportive together with relatives and friends and their own circles of friends and relatives who have worked tirelessly for me.

I was also touched by unknown people who are now my friends and well-wishers, who selflessly assisted me in my campaign.

4.  Any comment on the role women need to play in decision making?

It is always good to see more women not only in Parliament, but also in key decision-making positions. Women are equally competent as men or even better in some areas.

However, we need to promote women based on merit and encourage them to take up leadership roles.

The point to be noted for this election is that 50 per cent of women make up Fiji’s population, but only 10 women made it to Parliament out of 51 seats.

Why? It seems women are not supporting women and this is what we need to change before we question why there are more men (41) in Parliament.

5. Any further comments.

In politics one needs to stay connected to the people and that is one thing I would like to do to know the needs, issues and problems of our people.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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