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When it comes to putting together a Budget or running an economy, the moral compass of any Government should be guided by one defining virtue, and that is responsibility. This is a theme at the core of my remarks today; it is how we can distinguish whether politicians are governing for their people, or governing for themselves.
As a region, we have the opportunity to make the voices of the Pacific heard in safeguarding our peoples, our ocean, and our environment from current threats like climate change. Through Fiji’s presidency of the ongoing United Nations climate change negotiations or COP23, we have the chance to demonstrate our ability to address an issue that has a profound impact on all of us in the Pacific.
Friends, last night’s Budget was many things – bold, imaginative, comprehensive and sets us all up for a wonderful year. But it was also prudent and responsible because unlike some of our predecessors, this Government is determined to live within our means.
 The Ministry of Waterways has embarked on a journey to mitigate flooding using various mechanisms, some of which include dredging works, effective soil erosion control measures and riverbank protection. The proposed river bank protection works consist of the construction of a combination of boulder armouring and Reno-mattress works.
The Global School-Based Student Health Survey, conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2016, estimated that only 19.2 per cent of students aged 13-15 years in Fiji reported that they were physically active for at least 60 minutes a day within a 7-day period. Notably, the same survey highlighted that the level of physical activity among female students in Fiji, and across all surveyed Pacific Island Countries and Territories, was lower than their male counterparts.
That summit will be the first of its kind since global leaders came together for the Paris Agreement of 2015 and we must make it count. It will be taking place the year before the Paris Agreement comes into force in 2020. So as a means of raising ambition, its importance cannot be overestimated.
Our Peacekeepers carry on a proud Fijian legacy that stretches as far back as the First World War. As for over a century, Fijians have answered the call of the vulnerable; bravely risking their lives for the sake of peace, wherever and whenever the need has arisen. Driven solely by the pursuit of peace, Fijian soldiers have braved some of the most dangerous and volatile regions on Earth; their service spans both decades and continents.
We owe our thanks to the many individuals and parties who made these peacekeeping operations possible, and who continued to cultivate this mission over the past four decades. We thank our then national leaders in the 1970s who initiated the idea for Fiji to be involved in peacekeeping operations.
We are a nation of under one million people, and my Government has brought a style of leadership to Fiji that listens and learns from Fijians -- all Fijians, everywhere in the country. Fijians know that they can count on my Government to hear them out and respond to their concerns.
Each community in Fiji is unique, and each faces a unique set of challenges. Only you are able to speak to those challenges in a way that leads to change.
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