FijiFirst under the leadership of our Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama has achieved more for all Fijians than any other leader or government. The people’s Prime Minister has put our country on track to becoming the most modern and advanced nation in the South Pacific. He is working hard to ensure that he continues to keep his promise to make our beloved Fiji a place where we all grow and prosper together as a united people.
FijiFirst believes in keeping its promises. Unlike other political parties, FijiFirst believes in action rather than empty promises. We deliver. We serve. Our policies reflect our desire to continue developing Fiji with every Fijian in mind. The record of the Bainimarama Government speaks for itself. The fundamental basis for creating an inclusive and economically strong Fiji has already been created. It is now time to build on that success as we move to a genuine democracy in our nation for the first time.
This document outlines our plan to build upon the success of the many policies that the Bainimarama Government has already put in place. We have already laid the foundation for a more prosperous nation and this manifesto continues that program.
Before we go into our program in detail, it is important to explain to the Fijian people our underlying values and objectives.
FijiFirst is a national movement dedicated to the service of our nation and to the advancement of the well-being of our people.
a) To uphold and implement the Fijian Constitution;
b) To sponsor programmes for the dissemination and adoption by Fijians of the Core Values and Attributes of FijiFirst;
c) To serve the best interests of Fijians by putting Fiji first;
d) To uphold the rights, freedom and dignity of all Fijians;
e) To preserve, protect and defend the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Fiji;
f) To promote and foster common and equal citizenry;
g) To safeguard the freedom, and advance the well-being, of Fijians through a representative and democratic government;
h) To forge a nation of proud Fijians: to build a fair, just, and tolerant society; and to bind them together by patriotism, honour, dedication and commitment to Fiji;
i) To build a dynamic society which is disciplined and self-reliant, and in which rewards are accorded to each Fijian’s performance and contribution to society.
j) To create a society where there is compassion and action for the less unfortunate.
k) To foster, support and promote the values of healthy competition, self-sufficiency and free enterprise;
l) To achieve the optimum in economic development, and social and cultural fulfilment.
m) To safeguard our environment to have the natural world protected for the benefit of present and future generations;
n) To encourage the participation of Fijian workers as partners together with business and government in fostering economic growth and development of Fiji;
o) To foster an environment for healthy economic growth in which workers have the best prospects for employment, earning sustainable wages, and lifting living standards;
p) To honour men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the service of their nation; and
q) To provide the best opportunities for all Fijians to achieve their maximum potential through education and training so that there will be a place and role for every Fijian.
The mission of FijiFirst is to build a just and fair society where the benefits of progress include everyone. FijiFirst’s core values will remain constant. FijiFirst reaffirms its ideals to successfully govern and transform Fiji into a modern nation-state and cement its position as the preeminent Pacific island nation.
Integrity: FijiFirst must remain clean, incorruptible, above board, transparent, and lead with integrity.
Diversity: FijiFirst will ensure a Fiji that belongs equally to all citizens where every individual is assured of justice and fairness.
Meritocracy: FijiFirst will continue with a system that provides citizens with equal opportunities to progress, and for a person’s contributions to be recognised and appreciated on the basis of merit.
Self-reliance: FijiFirst believes no one owes us a living. We will avoid creating a dependency syndrome.
Based on the above values, FijiFirst is committed to promoting in all of its acts and deeds, reliability, pragmatism, unity, far-sightedness, decisiveness, compassion and avoiding any sense of entitlement or privilege.
Reliability: We say what we do and do what we say. By fulfilling our promises, we have shown and will continue to show that Fijians CAN TRUST US. We strongly believe in earning the people’s confidence in our competence and ability to deliver.
Pragmatism: FijiFirst believes in a flexible approach to generating solutions to problems confronting Fiji. We will be innovative and smart while remaining consistent to our values. Our unique approach IS WORKING.
Unity: A key strength of FijiFirst is the strong sense of unity, loyalty and discipline. We encourage individuals with diverse viewpoints, who CAN WORK TOGETHER for the betterment of Fiji and always put the nation’s interests first.
Far-sighted: FijiFirst believes in taking a long-term view to national development. We are not only solving problems today, but laying the groundwork to confront the challenges of the future. FijiFirst CAN SEE AHEAD to guide Fijians along the best way forward.
Decisive: FijiFirst will make swift and bold decisions. We WILL DO what is necessary to achieve progress quickly for all Fijians.
Compassionate: FijiFirst empathises with our people. We CAN FEEL their worries and, concerns, as well as share their hopes and dreams.
Resilient: FijiFirst will persevere. We CAN ENDURE tough times and will always be there for all Fijians.
FijiFirst strives to win the respect, trust and support of all Fijian voters.
We now have a modern, fair and just Constitution which sets in place a number of fundamental rights including, for the first time, an extensive set of socio-economic rights. It also recognises the special place of the iTaukei and Rotuman people, their ownership of their lands and their unique culture, traditions, language and customs.
The Constitution sets in place new levels of accountability and transparency. It addresses the previous issues of insecurity, corruption and inequality.
FijiFirst will continue the legal reforms of the Bainimarama Government – either strengthening existing laws or introducing new laws – to empower women, the disabled and children. Many reforms have already taken place in the areas of domestic violence, underage marriages, de facto relationships and the removal of archaic laws, such as the requirement of corroboration in rape cases.
FijiFirst will also continue the Bainimarama Government’s highly successful program to improve the skill sets of women through such initiatives as the Women’s Resource Centres we have opened across the country.
The focus of FijiFirst, which has been the focus of the Bainimarama Government, is to improve the lives of all Fijians by growing the economy. We have attracted investment and will continue to do so to sustain and create more jobs for Fijians, in particular our young people.
The past four years has seen unprecedented rates of economic growth and consolidation.
Aside from Government investment, the private sector is driving economic growth, with private sector investment reaching 15 per cent of GDP this year, from 13 per cent the year before. Only twice in Fiji’s history since Independence, in 1980 and 1998, has private sector investment exceeded 13 per cent.
That growth is set to continue as confidence builds in the new Fiji and it is crucial that the momentum that the Bainimarama Government has generated be maintained. FijiFirst will keep building on this impressive record of responsible economic management for the benefit of all Fijians. Creating jobs is among our top priorities and we are determined to build on the achievements of the past eight years to create many more.
Among a great number of achievements are the lowering of personal and corporate taxes to encourage spending and investment; the reduction of tariffs on a wide range of goods such as plant and machinery, and computers and smartphones; and the creation of incentives such as our tax free zones to attract investment to less developed parts of Fiji.
All of this will be supplemented in future by the following key initiatives.
FijiFirst has a comprehensive program that we will implement in Government after the election to complement the policies that we have developed over the past eight years. It is in addition to a range of initiatives that will continue unchanged, or some cases be expanded, under FijiFirst’s leadership, such as free education, expanding sporting facilities throughout Fiji, including rural and maritime areas, and other major policies that are already in place.
FijiFirst will increase the electricity subsidy for low-income families from the current 75 kilowatts to 85 kilowatts. This will provide immediate relief to thousands of households.
FijiFirst will continue the Bainimarama Government’s highly successful program to provide clean water to all Fijians. Areas still needing assistance have been identified and all pending applications are being fast tracked in the shortest possible time frame. FijiFirst will provide 91,250 litres of water free of charge per year to Fijian households earning less than a total annual income of $30,000. Our calculation is based on an average of 5 members per household and takes into account a World Health Organisation report that estimates that an individual requires 50 litres of water each day.
FijiFirst will continue to control the price of basic food items such as rice, flour, potatoes, dhal, cooking oil, and pharmaceutical and medical products.
FijiFirst will continue to place zero VAT on powdered milk, rice, edible oil, tin fish, flour, sharps and medicines.
FijiFirst will continue with the existing social security system for those pensioners who have never been a member of the FNPF and will lower the age of eligibility to 68, from 1 July 2015, and then further lower it to the age of 66 from 1 July 2016.
FijiFirst will conduct a further review of the social security system to ensure that those Fijians who are most in need do not fall outside the net. This is on top of the recent reforms conducted by the Bainimarama Government that restructured the system to make it fairer, reduce abuse and ensure that resources are targeted properly. There continue to be anomalies that exclude deserving Fijians from receiving benefits and these will be addressed.
FijiFirst will provide for free all medicine prescribed by a doctor and currently under price control for all Fijians who earn less than $20,000 a year. This includes medicines for Non Communicable Diseases. An allocation of $8-million will be provided for this assistance to the low-income individuals.
FijiFirst will follow the lead of Mauritius in taking control of the import of all fossil fuel, such as petroleum and gas, in place of the existing private companies. We will call for international tenders for the supply of fuel and the existing companies will then buy that fuel from the Government. As well as being able to negotiate lower prices in the international marketplace, the Government will generate revenue from the sale of fuel and be able to pass on the benefits of lower prices to consumers.
FijiFirst will provide 250 ml of milk a day to children enrolled in Class 1 at all primary schools starting from Term 1 of 2015. Preliminary discussions with Fiji Dairy Limited have already taken place and the cost is estimated at $2.5-million.
FijiFirst will strengthen and streamline the Bainimarama Government’s Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) to make it more efficient. By 2016, TELS will be extended to those who already have a diploma or who are in the workforce and want to gain formal qualifications.
FijiFirst will increase the ratio of teachers to students in primary and secondary schools by 2016. This will not only result in a better learning environment but will also create more jobs for our young teaching graduates.
FijiFirst will extend the current free education for primary and secondary student to pre-school students from the beginning of the second term in 2015. Free education will be available one year before admission to primary school at recognised and accredited pre-schools.
FijiFirst will carry out a review of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy in our primary and secondary education and prioritise an improvement in these basic skills.
FijiFirst will work with schools across the country and our tertiary institutions to ensure that our students have the skills and the right qualifications they need to be successful when they move on to higher education.
FijiFirst will establish vocational colleges in each district of Fiji that will provide a Level II Certificate in key trade areas. This is instead of offering vocational training in every high school without proper equipment and workshops.
FijiFirst will expand its current Sustainable Livelihood Project, delivered by FNU, to train young people from rural and maritime areas in various trades such as small engine repair, baking and cookery. The FNU will conduct a survey to match the skills required by our existing resorts and hotels with those of young people living in the areas around them and train them for those positions. This will provide employment opportunities for young people and will also deal with the Human Resource requirements of these hotels.
FijiFirst will expand the current prison labour programmes in collaboration with FNU, where prisoners learn various skills and earn an income to contribute to the cost of their imprisonment.
FijiFirst will work closely with FNU to establish basic workshops for prisoners for Level II Trade Certificate training in: joinery, carpentry, electrical, small engine repair, cookery, pastry, and farming.
FijiFirst will give inmates in our correctional institutions the opportunity to graduate with Certificate II in any of the above trades. Every prisoner who graduates will be given basic equipment worth up to $250 to encourage them to start their own business when they are released.
FijiFirst will provide for free all medicine prescribed by a doctor and currently under price control for all Fijians who earn less than $20,000 a year. This includes medicines for Non Communicable Diseases. An allocation of $8-million will be provided for this assistance to the low-income individuals.
FijiFirst will provide land and funding to Fiji National University to establish a world class Tertiary Hospital in Lautoka to be run in collaboration with the university’s Medical College. FijiFirst will provide seed funding of $10-million to immediately start work on the project, while the remaining funds will be sought from donor agencies. The FNU Tertiary Hospital will provide advanced medical and surgical procedures to Fijians, which is now only available overseas. At this hospital, Fijian citizens earning a household income of less than $20,000 will receive medical procedures free of charge. For retirees, irrespective of whether they are on pension or not, the cost of all procedures will be borne by Government.
FijiFirst will train, recruit and retain more doctors to progress towards achieving an internationally accepted standard of doctor to patient ratio by the end of 2020. The doctor to patient ratio recommended by the World Health Organisation is 1 doctor to 1,000 people. Fiji intends to join the ranks of the 45 per cent of countries in the world that meet this standard.
FijiFirst will extend the opening hours at health centres, hospitals and government pharmacies to provide Fijians with better and more convenient medical services.
FijiFirst will ensure all essential drugs will remain under price control and that there is a regular supply of all essential medicines through the public health system.
FijiFirst will set up an emergency fund to enable the nation’s farmers to better cope with drought and natural disasters.
FijiFirst will establish a National Agriculture Research Council to improve the quality of research into producing better crops and livestock. This council will involve key stakeholders such as agricultural scientists, researchers, academics, Ministry of Agriculture officials and industry groups to identify key research areas to be undertaken by Government and university research centres.
FijiFirst will foster greater cooperation between Government research stations and University researchers and fund joint research programs.
FijiFirst will reward high-achieving farmers by organising farm trials and annual crop and livestock field days.
FijiFirst will continue to give Commercial Agriculture Scholarships to encourage young people to take up farming as a profession.
FijiFirst will continue with the Bainimarama Government’s program to revitalise and depoliticise the sugarcane industry. It will also refine the existing organisations such as the Fertilizer Company and create greater synergy between the Fertilizer Company, FSC and the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji to improve the quality of the industry for the benefit of all Fijians.
FijiFirst will continue to provide fertiliser subsidy to dalo, rice, and dairy farmers. From next year, we will extend this to ginger farmers. It is expected that within two years this program will be extended to other crops.
FijiFirst recognises the high cost of land preparation and to encourage land use and agriculture we will allocate additional funding of $5-million in 2015 to assist farmers to prepare land for cultivation. The preparation of land will be outsourced to the private sector.
FijiFirst recognises that water-logged farms are a major problem for the nation’s farmers, some of whom urgently need assistance with drainage, such is in the Lakena Irrigation Scheme. We will set aside $2-million to provide immediate relief for these farmers.
FijiFirst is committed to ensuring that the TLTB performs at the highest possible level for the benefit of ordinary Fijians. We intend to continue the Bainimarama Government’s reforms of the TLTB and to make it more efficient and address issues of corruption within the organisation, in particular where landowners have been deprived of their say in the renewal of leases. We will also ensure that members of landowning units don’t have to pay an application fee when they lease their own land.
FijiFirst will develop more State land for squatter development. All State land on which squatters have been living will be subdivided and squatters will be given 99 year leases. Squatters on iTaukei land will be given 99 residential leases, with the approval of the landowners. This extends to the whole country the successful arrangements that have already been concluded in the Lami-Nausori Corridor thanks to a recent partnership brokered between Government and TLTB. Plans are underway for squatters to obtain leases at Nadonumai in Lami, Qauia in Lami, Wakanisila in Kalabu and Waidamudamu in Koronivia.
FijiFirst will formalise leases on Crown land that were sold without proper consent in order to give tenants security of tenure and the ability to apply for consent to connect to electricity and water.
FijiFirst will set aside $10-million to help the iTaukei develop their lands for subdivision and development. For too long, landowners have leased out land for others to develop and make huge profits. This initiative will encourage landowners to get into the business of being landlords while reaping direct commercial benefits from their land. This funding will be made available as a grant to assist landowners to meet development costs, such as the provision of electricity, water and roads. This initiative will not only empower the iTaukei but will also contribute to national economic development.
FijiFirst will continue with our unprecedented program to provide affordable housing to Fijians. We will continue with the successful $10-million housing grant for first time home owners who earn less than $50,000 a year. And we will continue our other housing initiatives, including our assistance to the Housing Authority and the Public Rental Board.
FijiFirst will set aside a fund of $1-million to provide emergency assistance to Fijians with an income below $20,000, who have proper leases, but no insurance and who lose their homes in a fire.
FijiFirst will continue the Bainimarama Government’s massive investment in upgrading the quality of the nation’s roads, bridges and jetties. The outsourcing of such work will continue to provide savings and a return on government outlays while ensuring better quality infrastructure. A specific Ministry for Utilities Infrastructure will be created to develop an overarching plan in collaboration with the various agencies and private sector. The current program to upgrade rural and urban roads will continue and work will commence on a number of major projects. These include a four-lane highway between Lautoka and Nadi and preliminary work on a cross island road between Nadi/Lautoka and Suva.
FijiFirst will continue to provide better access to transportation to maritime islands. This commitment was recently demonstrated by the recent purchase of the three new vessels to service maritime communities.
FijiFirst will ensure that starting 1 January 2015, Employer contribution to FNPF will be 10 percent and the Employee contribution will remain at 8 percent. This increase in contribution by Employers will assist Employees/Workers to save for their retirement at a faster pace. Employers will continue to be able to have TAX deductions on such benefits paid by them.
FijiFirst will at least double the amount payable under workmen’s compensation for death and injury claims without the need to increase premiums for workers’ compensation insurance.
FijiFirst will revise the national minimum wage upwards in line with the recommendation of the Reddy Report to a new rate of $2.32 an hour from 1 July, 2015. This rate is based on an extensive consultation with all stakeholders in Fiji.
FijiFirst will engage accredited international agencies and specialists to review and assess the performance of the Civil Service. This review will cover the requirements of the various ministries and departments with a view to bringing all aspects of the service into the 21st century. A particular focus will be on attracting professionals with better qualifications and retaining existing staff by introducing different pay structures that recognise special skills and performance.
FijiFirst will amend the laws to allow households to sell electricity generated by alternative energy sources, such as solar power, to the national grid.
FijiFirst will fast track all pending rural and peri-urban electrification projects, in particular where deposits have been paid by the community. It will also work with various international agencies to speed up the expansion of the national grid.
FijiFirst will import all fossil fuel, such as petroleum and gas, in place of the existing private companies. This will allow Government to call for international tenders for the supply of fuel and successfully negotiate lower prices. The existing oil companies will then buy fuel from the Government, which will generate revenue and guarantee stability of supply to consumers. Fiji will be following the example of Mauritius, where this model has been successfully put into practice. Discussions have already taken place with the Mauritius Government regarding this issue. Consumers will be assured of even more stable pricing through a stabilisation fund which will ensure that pricing remains constant. The cost of doing business is also expected to fall and the flow on effects should result in a lower cost of living.
FijiFirst will provide tax breaks for IT start-ups to develop a thriving local industry in Fiji. We want to encourage young Fijians to start their own IT businesses. And we want to attract software developers and application (app) designers from other countries and encourage them to choose Fiji because of its geographical location and advanced infrastructure. This will also create employment opportunities and further consolidate Fiji’s existing IT industry and its status as the regional communications hub.
FijiFirst will also provide tax breaks to encourage internationally recognised ICT training institutes to set up operations to improve the skills of our graduates and youth in the ICT area. While formal qualifications can be gained in Fiji at the moment, there is a shortage of trained personnel here just as there is throughout the world.
FijiFirst will work with non-governmental organisations on programs to improve digital literacy, such as the Bainimarama Government’s recent collaboration with the Reach for Your Future Foundation.
FijiFirst will continue work on the E-Governance and Digitalisation program within Government. A number of departments and approvals agencies will fully become digitalised in the next few months and we plan to completely digitalise the rest of Government within the next 18 months. This will provide Fijians with online access to all Government services from all Government ministries.
FijiFirst will fully implement digital television by the end of 2015. Trials will begin in November of this year. In the national roll out program, FijiFirst will set aside a $2-million grant to assist in meeting the costs to consumers of purchasing the set top boxes needed to receive the digital signal.
FijiFirst will continue to roll out more Government Telecentres as part of the Bainimarama Government’s highly successful program to provide more Fijians with access to the Internet.
FijiFirst will back the efforts of our new Commissioner of Police to strengthen the force at every level. This includes comprehensive training to improve the capacity to investigate and prosecute crime successfully. We are determined to introduce a new culture into the Police Force that is resistant to corruption and ensures that police meet the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.
FijiFirst will provide the police with the equipment they need to do their jobs properly. This includes more police stations, forensic laboratories, courts and better trained and equipped prosecutors and other personnel.
FijiFirst will continue with the Bainimarama Government’s waste transfer depot program, extending it to other regions outside the Suva- Nausori corridor.
FijiFirst, in partnership with recognised non-governmental organisations and international environmental groups, will continue to work towards the control and eradication of invasive animal and plant species.
FijiFirst, together with development partners, UN agencies and international environmental groups will continue the Bainimarama Government’s determined effort to mitigate the effects of climate change and help Fijians adapt to them.
FijiFirst will continue to lead the way regarding climate change and environmental issues in international forums by speaking up for the plight of Small Island Developing States.
FijiFirst will also continue to protect our biodiversity through national parks and sanctuaries, like the recent shark sanctuary.
FijiFirst will implement the recommendations of the 2014 Ministry of Anti – Corruption’s LTA Report. These recommendations came from the first ever nation-wide consultations held on the LTA and related laws. The Report addresses areas of inefficiency, corruption, road user levy, wheel tax, bureaucracy and inconsistency in the application of rules and regulations. It also recommends liberalising certain aspects of the land transport services.
FijiFirst will increase the amount payable under third party insurance and fast track payment under a tribunal already announced by the Prime Minister. This tribunal will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for payouts of third party insurance claims and reduce the need for claimants to be subjected to expensive court cases and legal fees.
FijiFirst will ensure that Members of Parliament meet the highest standards of conduct and dedication to serving the nation. We will insist that MPs are punctual and attend all parliamentary sessions and meetings. We will publish, online and elsewhere, our voting record, attendance record, and fully audited expense claims so that Fijian voters can decide for themselves the value for money we provide.
FijiFirst will implement online tendering to speed up the tender process.
FijiFirst will also insist that boards of state-owned enterprises benefit from professionals of the highest quality from both the public and private sectors.
FijiFirst will strengthen the budgets of anti-corruption and accountability bodies like FICAC, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.
FijiFirst will set up a parliamentary and government committee to oversee the quick implementation of socio-economic rights. This committee will oversee a transparent program with public involvement to integrate the provision of socio-economic rights through every government decision-making process. This includes the right to work for a just minimum wage; the right to education; the right to economic participation; the right to reasonable access to transportation; the rights of persons with disabilities; the right to housing and sanitation; the right to adequate food and water; the rights of children; the right to social security services; the right to health; and Environmental rights.
FijiFirst is committed to removing the bureaucratic red tape that is preventing the commencement of projects that will benefit all Fijians. To this end, we will review all laws pertaining to business and building approvals. We will remove the current complicated requirements standing in the way of business when dealing with different agencies, including municipal councils and rural local authorities.
FijiFirst will make it easier to establish small businesses by streamlining the current establishment requirements for businesses with an initial investment value below $500,000.
FijiFirst will implement the current recommendation for a new fee structure for small to medium enterprises. Under this structure, micro-finance entities and small businesses will be exempt from paying fees to meet health, fire and occupational health and safety regulations.
FijiFirst will provide micro-finance start-up grants to encourage small-scale economic activity. These grants will be targeted at individuals who have particular skill sets, such as handicrafts, or provide seed funding for those selling crops and other goods and services. Government will in the first year allocate $1-million to cater for 1,000 recipients, who will each receive a grant of up to $1,000. This will be administered through the Ministry of Industry and Trade and channelled through financial institutions such as the Fiji Development Bank and commercial banks. By linking these small businesses to our mainstream financial institutions, it will encourage them to grow and give them more financial leverage.
FijiFirst will continue the Bainimarama Government’s current effort to encourage Fijian to attain business success. This includes the current training being provided through various local and international non-governmental organisations to teach people basic business skills, such as writing business proposal, cash flow management, account keeping, applying for loans, and business planning and strategy.
FijiFirst will continue its program of upgrading the country’s municipal markets to improve conditions for market vendors and provide accommodation to women travelling into those markets from outlying areas.
FijiFirst will extend market upgrades to improve conditions for people selling agricultural produce and other products at established roadside sites in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.