Almost an hour after the COVID19 budget was scheduled for delivery, parliamentarians are debating the process during which the supplementary budget is being made.
Following requests from the government side for changes to the standing order to enable a quicker process, opposition parliamentarians Pio Tikoduadua, Niko Nawaikula and Biman Prasad have declared they arent in support of a government motion to quicken the process.
“We could have done this though a flying minute. The opposition should have been informed. This was not done. This was a surprise. Point we are trying to make is the accountability of any appropriation bill,” Dr. Prasad said.
During his presentation, MP Nawaikula mentioned nothing had yet been done by the government to properly respond to the COVID19 crisis, attracting a passionate response from Minister for Heath, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete.
“The Ministry of Health did nothing? What do you mean we did nothing. The sons and daughters of Fiji had been working the last five months. When the budget was done, no one predicted that COVID19 would happen,” Dr. Waqainabete said.
“The Ministry of Health need the support to be able to do its work. Thats why we need to expedite the budget. We have people in lock-down who are not going to work. We have medical supplies (to be taken there). I find this despicable and worrying. If they were concerned with COVID 19. I am very disappointed at their actions today.”
Part of the changes the government is asking for is shortened debate on the COVID19 budget inorder to push the COVID19 budget tomorrow.
Minister for Economy Ayaiz Sayed-Khaiyum said they government wanted to pay out $60million to people tomorrow. He told parliament that 25,000 were already made jobless by COVID19
“The reality of the matter we have a very dire situation on our hand, globally speaking, there are over 25,0000 Fijians lost jobs because of tourism sector lost jobs. Lost jobs because planes have stopped flyigninto country. They need to access their FNPF accounts and need assistance from govt. They dont want to dilly-dally like this people. They need to go to FNPF tomorrow.”