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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
THERE will be no more handouts of food rations, unless extremely necessary, and government funding to build village halls and churches will cease.
Instead, any government assistance toward villages will focus on the priority areas of education and health.
This firm announcement - in support of the children of Fiji - was made by army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama during an impromptu visit and private meeting with the villagers of Naboro and Yalobi in the Yasawa group.
He told them that they should reduce their consumption of kava and spend more time with their children.
When the villagers tried to press the issue by pointing to the destruction of food, farms and infrastructure during Cyclone Mick late last year, Cmdre Bainimarama told them that they should take the initiative and not wait for government handouts.
"Government will not assist in the construction of village halls and churches and giving out food rations unless extremely necessary," he said.
"The halls and churches are projects best undertaken by the villagers themselves. Our focus right now is the future of Fiji, which is our children.
"We will only provide assistance and funding for education and health. Food rations will be supplied to boarding schools."
Cmdre Bainimarama stressed that while there would be support for village income-earning projects, it was imperative that the villagers took the initiative themselves rather than wait for help.
"Instead of asking for food, the men should go out and fish," he said.
"Villages need to put in some effort and do background work for community projects or income-earning ventures.
"They should not expect to be spoon fed by government all the time.
"This is a time for nation building. In the past too much time and resources were spent by government departments engaging in unnecessary activity."
The villages were on the itinerary of a Captain Cook Cruises three-day tour of southern Yasawa. The army commander was a guest on the Reef Endeavour's inaugural voyage to the group.