Wealth creation, climate change adaptation; indigenous rights and culture, and lifestyle habits were the highlight of Hon Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s speech at the Macuata Provincial Council meeting held in Labasa this morning.
Addressing traditional leaders and district representatives in the Bau dialect, the Prime Minister reminded participants that the i-taukei in particular have been critical of the recent Budget that saw changes to the imposition of VAT.
He urged those present to remind their people about the ‘old ways’ to mitigate the impact of increasing living costs.
Prime Minister Rabuka also highlighted the importance of preserving traditions and culture and explained that several governments had integrated the UN Declaration of Indigenous People into their laws.
He reminded attendees and relevant stakeholders not to overlook the importance of first consulting the indigenous people before prior consent.
He highlighted the work being done by the Ministry of I-Taukei Affairs and commended the work being done by the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) review team to ensure that the wishes of the i-taukei is captured in the recommendations that will be tabled for Government’s consideration.
The Prime Minister also urged the leaders to note the assistance that can be accessed for village improvement schemes through the Rural Assistance and Rural Outer Islands programmes.
He also reminded the leaders that as long as seawalls needed to be built in coastal villages in Vanua Levu, the issue of climate change adaptation and mitigation would need be discussed at provincial meetings.