Fiji’s Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Sakiasi Ditoka welcomed his ministry’s allocation as well as allocations in other ministries aimed to benefit people in the rural and maritime areas of the country.
In the 2023-2024 budget, the ministry received a budget of $29.1 million, an increase of $14.1 million compared to the previous year.
The budget is primarily focused on re-establishing the Rural Housing Programme and Rural and Outer Island Development, with a combined sum of $5.8 million set aside for these initiatives.
“The new housing schemes will be rolled out to our rural dwellers who meet the criteria set out by the ministry. On the other hand, the ministry will work with other stakeholders to construct related infrastructures in the rural space to improve livelihoods, facilitate trade, improve transportation, and expand agriculture commodities which will all be funded under the Rural and Outer Island Programme,” Ditoka said.
Other expenditures mentioned in the budget include ongoing assistance through Self-Help Projects and the Seafaring Entrepreneur Assistance Subsidy.
In addition, Ditoka outlined various allocations made under different ministries geared to enhance rural development and improve living conditions.
The Fiji Roads Authority budget includes $18.3 million for rural roads, while the Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated an additional $2 million for farm access roads. The Ministry of Multi-Ethnic Affairs and Sugar Industry has been granted $2 million for Cane Access Roads, and the Ministry of Public Works, Meteorological Services, and Transport has received an additional $5 million for the re-establishment of the Public Works Department to expedite the maintenance of rural roads.
In terms of water infrastructure development, the ministry plans to continue the Rural High-Risk Water Sanitation project and Emergency Water Supplies with a budget of $1.1 million. The Water Authority of Fiji has been allocated $8 million for the Rural Water Supply Scheme, rural water carting, and rainwater harvesting systems. The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources received $3.5 million for the development of groundwater resources and reticulation in rural areas. Additionally, $0.5 million has been allocated to improve sanitation in villages and settlements.
The budget also includes funding for allowances to local leaders, such as Turaga in Koros, Mata ni Tikinas, and Liuliu ni Yavusa. Civil servants in rural areas will benefit from $1 million allocated for renovating quarters to fix issues like leaking roofs and damaged floors.
In the healthcare sector, $2 million has been allocated for upgrading subdivisional hospitals, health centers, and nursing stations. The Ministry of Agriculture has received $1 million for maintaining rural offices and quarters.
Support for rural trade includes $5 million for the Agriculture Marketing Authority to procure agricultural produce from remote areas. The Fiji Crop and Livestock Council has been granted $0.7 million to establish commodity associations and provide training for farmers. The Fiji Cooperative Dairy Company Limited has received $5 million to support dairy farmers with new breeds, subsidies, improved pastures, and training.
In terms of disaster management, the budget includes a $3.2 million cash grant from New Zealand. An additional $0.2 million has been allocated for quick resource mobilisation in disaster risk reduction.