A budget that will assist all fijian families.
Those were the words of the Minister of Economy, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum while delivering the 2018-2019 National Budget.
For the first time ever in Fiji, Mothers from families with a household income below $30, 000 will be given a grant of $1000 once their child is born.
The government has allocated five million dollars towards Parenthood Assistance Payment.
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum says the grant will be given irrespective of the number of new born.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the remaining five hundred dollars stay in the bank where it can earn interest and can be accessed once the child is in Year One or Primary School.
A five day paid paternity leave will come into effect for all fathers from January next year.
Leave can be taken three months before or three months after the birth of their child.
The Minister for Economy also announced a fully paid five day Family Care Leave that all employees can utilize each year.
Meanwhile, the paid maternity leave has been increased from 84 workers days to 98 working days.
Another historical occasion for Fiji’s education sector as the government has allocated over a billion dollars in the 2018/2019 budget.
The record amount is nearly 22 percent of government’s expenditure.
Free education will continue with an allocation of 66.4 million dollars.
Families who feel they can afford the school fees for their children can now pay the fees on the voluntary basis or can choose to direct any amount into an account which will fund the construction of rural and maritime schools.
Free Bus Fares programme will continue as well as the Free Milk Scheme for the Year One students.
The government will also introduce a No-Fault Scheme to cover schoolyard injuries.
Five million dollars has also been allocated to recruit 50 secondary and 200
primary school teachers.
50 full-time academic scholarships will also be provided to teachers because of serious lack of specialist teachers in the country.
Government has allocated 15 million dollars towards the first home owner’s grants.
First time buyers with an annual income of under 50 thousand dollars will receive 15 thousand dollars towards the construction or 10 thousand dollars towards the purchase of their first home. Families who make between 50 thousand dollars a year and a hundred thousand dollars a year now also qualify for this grant assistance 10 thousand dollars for constructing a new home or 5 thousand dollars for purchasing a new home.
Sayed-Khaiyum says first landowners grant will be introduced as households who earn less than 50 thousand dollars will be granted 10 thousand dollars towards the purchase or lease of land.
For cane farmers as the government will be setting up a stabilization price and fund in partnership with the Fiji Sugar Corporation of $85 a tonne for all cane payment for the next three years.
This is an increase of three dollars.
The government will be funding this measure as well with an allocation in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
Government will continue to modernize the industry to make it more competitive in the global market.
The Sugar Industry has been allocated a total budget of $62.3 million in the 2018/2019 national budget.
The government has extended the National Toppers Scheme for students with another 340 fulltime scholarships bringing the total number to 970.
Of the new scholarships, 20 will be awarded for overseas studies on specialised courses that is not offered in Fiji.
The government has also allocated 206 million dollars to fund TELS for the next financial year and as well expanding the reach of the program to over 25 thousand students.
Those who repay their loan quickly will enjoy a major discount of their total repayment.
Students will now also receive a statement of their debt position during and after their studies.
Under TELS, the government has also increased the threshold of students receiving allowance from 25 thousand dollars to 50 thousand dollars of their parent’s annual salaries.