FijiFirst MP Usamate Rejects Budget Measures Plea, Raises Concerns Over Vacant MP Seats

FijiFirst MP Jone Usamate rejects Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s plea for understanding of strong measures proposed in tomorrow’s budget and questions his sincerity in his calls for unity and bipartisan cooperation.

In his recent national address, ahead of the release of the Coalition Government’s first budget since winning the 2022 General Election, Rabuka highlighted the need to implement cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures in the upcoming 2023-24 budget. He acknowledged that these measures might cause hardships for the people but argued that they were necessary to provide services and invest in critical sectors, whilst reducing government debt. In the same address televised 7 pm yesterday, Rabuka called on the opposition to join in the collective effort to move the nation forward.

Usamate described Rabuka’s statements as “comedic and sad,” suggesting that they say one thing for the cameras but act differently. He remains unconvinced that the budget measures “are unavoidable” describing proposed revenue measures as lacking innovation. Usamate insisted the measures are “not good enough of a reason to force Fijians to shoulder unnecessary costs” particularly as ministers and assistants continue to travel abroad, urging the Coalition Government to “focus on what is best for Fiji and get rid of non-value-adding expenses—remove wastage.”

He further questioned the feasibility of a bipartisan approach when two of their MP seats remain vacant. These seats have been vacant since March this year due to delays in the Electoral Commission’s appointment process, which falls under the purview of the Constitutional Offices Commission chaired by Rabuka.

Ateca Ledua, who contested the 2018 General Election with the FijiFirst and was appointed in February last year, remains of the seven-member EC. The other commissioners have either finished their terms or resigned, the latest being lawyer and chairperson Mukesh Nand. Nand resigned a week ago, 16 months into his 3-year term, citing personal reasons.

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