Analysis

Nemani Delaibatiki: Bala Poised For Exciting 2020 After Laying Platform For Changes

The Minister for Employment, Productivity, Industrial Relations and Youth and Sports, has bounced back after the challenges of his first ministerial term. He is popular on both sides of the House with his witty remarks.
20 Nov 2019 16:04
Nemani Delaibatiki: Bala Poised For Exciting 2020 After Laying Platform For Changes
Minister for Employment, Productivity, Industrial Relations and Youth and Sports Parveen Bala.

Analysis:

Parveen Bala has become a valuable member of the FijiFirst Cabinet.

After challenges in his first ministerial term, he is now a more accomplished politician.

The Minister for Employment, Productivity, Industrial Relations and Youth and Sports is poised for an exciting 2020 by introducing timely and innovative policy actions across its diverse range of portfolios.

These innovations relied on good governance and sound leadership at all levels.

Mr Bala’s comments in Parliament on service are based on transparent governance that delivers on the expectations of all Fijian citizens in a fair, just and equitable manner.

It is also the driving force for his ministry. In his first 12 months after the 2018 election, his ministry explored more innovative, cost effective and quality focused ways to write policy and implement reform programmes to sustain its core services.

Mr Bala is well known for his hands-on approach among the grassroot people. He has taken the same enthusiasm to the regional and international stage.

Earlier this year in July, he was appointed founding Chair of the Blue Pacific Big Ocean States (BOS) Labour Platform, by his peer ministers from the region in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Bala as Chair has moved on to get agreement from regional governments on BOS Labour Platform set at the Pacific Tripartite High-Level Forum (PTHLF) on Climate Change and Decent Work.

The BOS Labour Platform sets important benchmarks and pathways for collaboration, strategic partnerships, knowledge sharing and network building among members countries from the Blue Pacific region.

The BOS Labour Platform, would also provide the basis to drive and map out the direction on future of work and workplace relations in a sustainable and deliverable manner in Fiji.

The portfolios of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations is responsible for the promotion of social justice in workplaces through the provision of awareness, training, advisory services and capacity building.

Capacity building has included important policy and implementation initiatives, including an agreement with the Australian Government for semi-skilled and skilled workers to work and live in Australia for periods up to three years.

This has now extended into the aged care industry with eight industry providers from Australia currently negotiating for caregivers from Fiji.

The first ever Fiji Jobs Fair this year provided interface and networking opportunities for employers and prospective employees, particularly our youth.

A follow up report on job placements saw more than 100 jobs being taken up directly through the Jobs Fair, by this month.

With the National Youth and Sports Conference, the Ministry will be revamping and increasing the scope of the Jobs Fair 2020.

In the coming year the ministries are working with their tripartite partners – employers and employee’s stakeholders, as well as regional and international labor organisations like the International Labour Organisation.

On Youth and Sports Mr Bala has outlined their wellness and health benefits and their growing importance to our economy.

With over 70 per cent of the Fijian population officially comprising youths, he said the sectors of Youth and its associated area of sports, made it “areas of incredible importance to Fiji and its future.”

Mr Bala says: “Both are economic drivers and need to be seen and addressed in terms of their growing importance in this respect.”

Sports, according to an RBF report in 2016, contributed 1.7 per cent to Fiji’s GDP.

This places sports ahead of some our traditional industries including fisheries and logging to name a few, says Mr Bala.

Sports as an industry is a welcome addition to the Fijian economy, he adds.

He urges all Fijians to take notice of it and start to look at ways and means of growing this industry.  He outlines some key initiatives in this regard.

First and foremost, they are in the process of implementing a Sports Integrity Commission.

A start was made earlier this year at the hosting of the Keep Crime out of Sports Conference.

An integrity commission, Mr Bala says will also complement the work of the Ministry and National Associations on ensuring that our player welfare and wellbeing, including life after sports, is well taken care of.

He points out only recently Fijians have learnt of the fate of the Bua Bullet, Rupeni Caucaunibua, and his life after being a global superstar as one the world’s best rugby wingers.

He says the rise and fall of Caucau is a cautionary tale for our younger athletes that when they plan a professional career and that they need to think beyond their careers and of building a life after the lights dim on their stars.

He is spearheading initiatives to protect our players and their welfare.

And he adds that as a starting point – in consultation with national bodies – he will look at ways and means to regulate player management.

This would include legislation to license agents, and to ensure their contracts include payments to FNPF, regardless of where the players are – if they are Fijian citizens.

He says this will ensure compulsory savings and a starting point for players when they retire from the game.

He says the Ministerial team of Employment, Productivity, Industrial Relations & Youth and Sports and their wider stakeholders can look forward to a proactive and hands-on approach from his leadership.

He says they are committed to moving forward to realise the vision and aims for the Fiji First Government.

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