The Minister for Health and Medical Services – Hon. Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete;
Gone Turaga na Tui Nasau/Turaga ni Yavusa – Ratu Isoa Nayasikalou;
Provincial Administrator Rakiraki;
Senior Government Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all!
I am delighted to be back in Ra – especially here in Nasau with you on my first stop today.
It is an important day that we are here to celebrate. A fully refurbished Health Centre, with an important addition – four (4) brand-new living quarters for health-care professionals. Nurses, doctors and other critical staff will no longer have to live offsite and travel here intermittently.
It would have been useless to simply upgrade this medical facility and not equip it with the accommodation necessary to house the very professionals needed to operate the centre. That would not have helped anyone. Instead, my Government has invested more than $830,000 into this project to ensure that every single one of you have twenty-four-hour access to a modern medical facility, operated by qualified staff who are assigned by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
Nasau’s brand new Health Centre is a concrete testament of my Government’s unwavering commitment to leaving no one behind and of bringing the Government’s services to you. Finding and paying for expensive transportation to travel down to Rakiraki will now be a thing of the past. The 19 villages and approximately 4,300 Fijians that come under the Nasau Medical Area, can breathe easier today knowing that high quality medical care is just around the corner.
Ladies and Gentlemen, whether one lives in an urban city like Suva or a maritime or rural community like yours here in Ra, my Government is 100% committed to ensuring that every Fijian has equal access to our rising standard of healthcare, and every other Government service available.
As a means of guaranteeing this for our rural communities, we allocated approximately 5.87 Million Dollars in the 2022-2023 National Budget to spend on rural and maritime location allowances for civil servants living and working in these areas. This benefits just under 5,000 civil servants across 954 locations around Fiji.
With single officers receiving $1,200 per annum and married officers receiving $1,800 per annum in allowances, the decision for them to move to and work in non-urban centres becomes much more attractive for them and their families.
As I have mentioned to our fellow Fijians around the country, strong and resilient rural Fijian communities are the future of Fiji. This is not just a pie in the sky dream. Every single day, my Government works to enhance the security, safety, well-being, and prosperity of our people. From investing $4.5 Million Dollars in rural water projects here in Ra, to working towards 100% electricity coverage for the nation, and paying out more than Sixty Million Dollars as part of Government’s 180-dollar inflation mitigation assistance – we have never shied away from the hard work and decisive leadership needed to guide our people forward.
We want every single Fijian child to receive an education – so we moved to make school completely free of charge. We want every single Fijian household to be able to access information that is important to them – so we introduced the free-to-air Walesi digital TV and radio platform; and provide set-top boxes for Walesi completely free for households with a combined annual income of $30,000 or less.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are not in the business of wishing, we are in the business of doing. Our obligation from day one has been to the people of Fiji, and that is exactly how it will remain.
Friends, I will be opening the Ra Provincial Council Meeting this week, where we will be having robust discussions on issues affecting the people of Ra – such as land, fishing grounds, traditional knowledge, and culture. The only way forward is to work as one.
This is what it means for Fijians to be empowered – to bring essential services to them, in their communities, so that we level the playing field of our society and we can all prosper together.
On that note, I am proud to officially open the newly refurbished Nasau Health Centre and adjoining staff living quarters!
Vinaka Vakalevu – Thank you.