Government has made $100 million available to make sure every unemployed Fijian is able to access their full relief payments.

Within that allocation, $5m is dedicated to upskilling or reskilling workers whose old jobs have been lost, but for whom new opportunities await.

“We will also continue supporting micro, small and medium enterprises through our highly-concessionary loan packages. In addition to the $30 million set aside for this initiative last year, we are adding an additional $30 million this year,” said Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

On top of the $3.4 billion in loan repayments already deferred, the Association of Banks have agreed to –– on a case-by-case basis –– extend loan deferments until 31 December 2020, and we’re grateful for flexibility they’ve granted the families and business still bearing the worst of this economic fallout.

“Mr Speaker, from the start of building this year’s budget we were guided by one important question. What good are the social safety nets we’ve spent years weaving, if they go unfunded when Fijians need them most?

“Through this budget, Fijians can continue to count on the landmark protections we’ve instituted to uphold their wellbeing. Free education will continue. Free textbooks will be provided. Subsidised transportation to school will be paid for. Free medicine will be paid for. Fijians can continue accessing free healthcare. NGOs we work with will continue to be funded. And our most vulnerable citizens will continue to receive special efforts from their government to ensure they keep pace with the rest of their nation throughout our recovery. While we are making some surgical cuts to allow these programmes to serve our people more efficiently, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, every member on this side of the House would fork out our life-savings before we ever saw these initiatives go under.”

“Mr Speaker, this is a stimulus budget designed to pump as much money as possible into the economy. As I’ve said, we aren’t cutting anything for the sake of making cuts. But we are redirecting resources where they are proven to do the most good. And to ensure we get funds to those left reeling from COVID’s worst impacts, other programmes will need to be scaled back.”

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