Minister on State debt, borrowings

Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu leaves the Parliament. Picture: RAMA

Government is investing in our infrastructure and that is linked to our borrowing and debts.

This was told to Parliament by Minister for Rural and Maritime Development, Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu during his response to the 2020-2021 National Budget on Tuesday.

Mr Seruiratu said by spending more and building infrastructure to standards now, future administrations would not have to waste more money.

“When we are financing these infrastructure, definitely, governments that will come later will not have to do another highway from Bua to Dreketi,” Mr Seruiratu said.

He said when the Fiji Roads Authority came into inception in 2013, there were discussions in Government about the state of poor infrastructure it had inherited.

“We had about 609 bridges back then, I think it is more than a thousand now. Out of those figure that they gave of 609, 75 of those bridges were classified as ‘critical’ and 120 more were classified as ‘urgent’.

“Why was this? For two obvious reasons; one is the overloading, but the other one was the lack of maintenance and the lack of investment into ill-infrastructure by previous governments.

“The lifetime of a bridge is supposed to be 85 years but unfortunately bridges in Fiji, their average is only about 43 years, and simply because of poor and lack of maintenance previously.

“That is what this Government inherited and we have discussed this so many times. This Government again is investing in our infrastructure and that is linked to our borrowing and of course to our debts as well.”

On Vanua Levu, Mr Seruiratu said, Government had fixed the Vatudova Bridge and was also presently fixing the Korovuli Bridge and the Vesidrua Bridge.

“This is among the 75 and the 120 that I was referring to.”

Mr Seruiratu added the new financial year’s budget was about changing adversities into opportunities.

“For that, it needs courage in the face of adversities.”

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