Sudhakar Slams Nawaikula For ‘Wrong’ Claims And ‘Racial Profiling’ In Jobs

“I show my displeasure and astonishment over the statement made by Honourable Nawaikula on Monday that the Government is using the Open Merit Recruitment System to eliminate iTaukei staff."
20 Feb 2020 10:58
Sudhakar Slams Nawaikula For ‘Wrong’ Claims And ‘Racial Profiling’ In Jobs
Lands Minister Ashneel Sudhakar with Government MPs outside Parliament on February 19, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Lands Minister Ashneel Sudhakar yesterday fired a broadside against SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula over his “wrong” comments on land and race.

He hit out at Mr Nawaikula for wrongly accusing Government of removing iTaukei from senior jobs in the civil service and criticising the Land Bank.

He said: “I show my displeasure and astonishment over the statement made by Honourable Nawaikula on Monday that the Government is using the Open Merit Recruitment System to eliminate iTaukei staff.

“That is totally wrong. I can vouch for the OMRS. It is designed to recognise the merits of the candidate of an employee. It is designed to look at qualification, experience. It is not designed to look at a particular person’s race, ethnicity, religion, province or gender.

“The sole purpose of it is merit. And I can vouch for my ministry. My Permanent Secretary is iTaukei, Director Lands is iTaukei, my Deputy Secretary is iTaukei.

“We do not do racial profiling but to bring it in light of what Honourable Nawaikula was saying.

“It is totally incorrect for him to say that the system is designed to eradicate iTaukei from the system. It is wrong. He in fact should apologize to all the hardworking civil servants. It is a great injustice to our civil servants what he has done. Honourable leader, a stronger leader which the honourable opposition leader does not seem to be, would have removed Honourable Nawaikula for his comments.

“If a member from this side of the House made a statement my leader would not hesitate to remove him or her from Parliament immediately because it has caused racial discrimination, it has caused racial profiling of our civil servants.”

He also criticised Mr Nawaikula for attacking the Land Bank. He said the Land Bank was not stealing or taking away iTaukei land.

He said 60 per cent of landowners must agree before it could be deposited with Land Bank.

Landowners got more money under Land Bank.

He said Mr Nawaikula was instrumental in stopping a piece of land in Kokomo being deposited in Land Bank.

He said the landowners had agreed to lease it under the Land Bank.

But Mr Nawaikula instigated the landowners to withdraw.

“We respected the choice of the landowners. We returned the land to them. Now the landowners are in a limbo. They have lost out in a good deal because of people like Mr Nawaikula.”

Land for residential lots

Meanwhile, in his ministerial statement, Mr Sudhakar said the ministry had completed the planning and consultation process in three divisions and started the concept plan for four state land parcels identified for subdivisions.

The sites are:

  • 20 hectares of land in Cuvu Top, Nadroga, for the development of 100 residential lots;
  • 300 acres of farm land in Vunicibicibi, Naitasiri;
  • approved Scheme Plan for the growth centre in Dreketi, and
  • 3.66 hectares industrial land in Savusavu.

In his ministerial statement, Mr Sudhakar said iTaukei landowners should know that the FijiFirst Government will prioritise their interests and the ministry will always opt for the highest and best use approach with high returns for their land.

The ministry, in this financial year, will utilise idle State land by depositing it into the Land Bank.

According to Mr Sudhakar this is the simplest and most efficient way to utilise idle land and earn revenue for the Government.

The initiative includes land for agricultural purposes, residential and commercial.

The benefits of depositing land into the Lank Bank include:

  • putting land into better use, increasing soil fertility and ensuring food security,
  • promotion of compatible uses;
  • provides employment in terms of land development
  • increase investment opportunities
  • promote rural development; and
  • revenue collected will be used for basic facilities and improvement of infrastructure

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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