Gavoka calls for the removal of PIDF

Viliame Gavoka is followed by Alex O'Connor and Mahendra Reddy after the Budget Debate at parliament in Suva. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

It is high time Government start realigning itself with Australia and New Zealand considering the situation the world is in, Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka told the Committee of Supply in Parliament yesterday.

He made the comment when parliamentarians debated an allocation of $1.2 million in operating grant for the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) in the 2020-2021 National Budget.

“PIDF is anti-Australia and anti-New Zealand, we need to remove it,” Mr Gavoka said.

“This is the time that we should be working closer with our neighbours.”

In response, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama refuted the claims by Mr Gavoka.

“Only they (Opposition) have that perspective, we are closer to our neighbours,” he said.

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Australia and New Zealand had given direct budget support to Fiji.

He said such assistance was given because Fiji was close to its neighbours. National Federation Party MP Pio Tikoduadua said PIDF was a white elephant with no direct impact on the Fijian people.

Social Democratic Liberal Party MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau questioned the grant for PIDF.

“This needs to be rationalised and taken out because PIDF is the duplication of other regional organisations.”

In response, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said PIDF did not duplicate the role of other regional institutions.

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