Back in 2013 [Ahead of the 2014 elections, the Fiji First government announced a special fund of $10 million for ITaukei Land Development.
The Budget notes said as follows: - Quote ITaukei Land Development - $10 million this is a new initiative to help the iTaukei develop their lands for subdivision and development. It is also aimed at encouraging landowners to get into the business of being landlords and reap direct commercial benefits from their land. The funding will be made available as a grant to assist landowners to meet development costs such as the provision of electricity, water and roads. Unquote.
Admirable plan indeed, if it were not a ‘false promise’ designed mainly to ‘hood wink’ the itaukei community before the 2014 elections into believing these funds could help them develop their land.
Now 4 years later, the truth emerges.
For 2 [2013-2014] of the 4 years that the $10 million has been in place – zero dollars has been allocated for any iTaukei development projects. I am aware as I am sure others are, there were a number of development projects submitted, but not one approved! Why?
Government must list who applied and why their projects were rejected and if the projects were not up to par, what assistance did government provide the applicants so that their projects did come up to par.
This means there has been a 100% failure in 2013 and 100% failure in 2014 of government’s iTaukei Development Projects. Shameful!
There is a revised estimate of $10 million for 2015-16 and the estimate for 2016-17 is another $10 million. So out of a $40 million allocation for iTaukei Land Development over the period 2013--2016 Revised Estimates suggests only $20 million or 50% might get utilized?
Contrast this to the Capital Allocation to Fiji Roads Authority over the same period 2013 to 2016. A staggering $1.2 billion has been allocated, of which $570.75 million is already used. Foreign contractors and a hand full of local citizen’s benefit from this $1.2 billion fund.
Consider this, the amount that we have actually allocated to assist our iTaukei community is just 1.6% of the $1.2 billion allocated for Roads. If we assume locals get 50% of this, than the funds allocated to help our iTaukei community who make up 57% of our population increases ever so slightly to just 3.20%.
Yet on Page 289 of the 2016-217 Budget notes it ends with quote: for ongoing and new rural roads projects to provide sustainable access to remote communities and agricultural development areas, helping to lift people out of social exclusion.
Based on the above facts, I put it to you that our majority iTaukei community are not only being socially excluded, but economically disadvantaged as well and this is totally unacceptable
All those responsible for the allocation of the $10 million per annum who failed to get a single iTaukei Project off the ground in 2013 and 2014, should be asked to refund all the pay they received over this period, because their failure was 100% and if government is serious about this I ITaukei development project, it must ensure the $10 million allocated annually accumulates so that the ITaukei community projects, when approved do not miss out on any the promised development funds just because the government is inefficient or incompetent or both.