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Turaga na Ratu I Dawasamu;
Members of Silana Community;
Global Vision International Representatives;
Religious Organisations Representatives;
Representatives from the Vanua;
Government Department Representatives;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to all of you.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here today to officiate at the opening of the Babale Bures. This is an eco-tourism project that will lead to generation of income for the youth of Silana village, here in Dawasamu.

This project will provide an avenue for the youth of Silana to earn a livelihood for themselves and improve the standard of living of their families and the village of Silana.

I acknowledge the hard work, that you all have put in this project, to accomplish what we all see before us today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of the key mandates of the Ministry is to formulate and implement policies and strategies to facilitate the growth of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector or MSMEs.

With a contribution of around 20 percent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the MSME sector is an essential component of the Fijian economy. The MSME sector is therefore an important contributor to employment creation, income generation and poverty alleviation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Fijian 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan (NDP) sets the foundation for an inclusive Fiji, where all Fijians are given equal opportunity to earn a better livelihood. The Fijian Government recognises the MSMEs as the backbone to a strong and resilient economy.

In this regard, the Fijian Government has in place a number of initiatives that are targeted towards the enhancement of the MSME sector. One such initiative is the Integrated Human Resource Development Programme (IHRDP) of the Ministry.

The IHRDP funds community-based projects that allows for communities to pool resources and expertise for projects that generate income and create decent work.

Over the years, the IHRDP has successfully implemented over 28 Projects in the Central Division and has improved the livelihoods of approximately 560 people. They have been able to earn over a quarter million and actively contribute to the economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2016, the IHRDP was brought under the ambit of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. This was done to consolidate all Fijian Government’s projects relating to MSMEs. All MSME-related initiatives are interrelated and work towards the aim of giving recognition to the contribution made by the MSMEs towards the growth of the economy.

For example, projects under IHRDP, such as Lawaki Bakery and Koronivia Vegetable Farmers have been formed into a Co-operative. This has enabled the community-based projects to graduate from the informal to the formal sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The total project cost of the Silana Youth Project was $144,399. The Fijian Government through the IHRDP contributed $53,771, and the community contributed $90,627 in cash and sweat equity in the construction of these bures.

One unique aspect of this project is that, while it belongs to the people of Silana, the bure is operated and managed by the youth in the community, whereby more than 20 youths have acquired life-long skills of constructing bures and also knowledge of setting up and managing a business.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the skills and knowledge acquired by the youths, they have an opportunity to graduate into job creation. The Young Entrepreneurship Scheme or YES, provides an avenue for young Fijians to access funding for innovative and unique projects. The Youth Committee can apply for Yes funding as a group.

Furthermore, the Silana Youth Eco-tourism project is an example of how a group can work together for the betterment of their community. And yes, the youth play a crucial role in ensuring that the growth is sustainable.

It is encouraging to note that the four bures are currently occupied by Global Vision International (GVI) for a period of 3 years. This ensures a steady income of $3,333 a month. The income is used for development of the village, education of the children and savings are kept at the Unit Trust of Fiji.

After 3 years, the bures will become tourist accommodation.

These types of projects which focuses on sustainable development, complement the Fijian Government’s work towards achieving a $2.2 billion tourism industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Fijian Government believes that the best and most effective way to economically empower the rural youth, is to identify what they do best and provide them the necessary support to achieve that vision.

I would like to remind the Silana community at large, that the Fijian Government’s contribution towards the construction of these bures is a leg-up and not a hand-down.

Hence, you need to take full ownership of the business and ensure that it flourishes and grows.

Furthermore, you need to look after the bures and maintain it. I encourage you all to work hard with pride and continue to press on into the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge the support received from other Government agencies and private sector partners who are present here today and have worked with IHRDP through the Integrated Rural Development Framework to make things happen, here in Silana.

I would also like to thank all stakeholders for your continued support and for making this dream come true for the people of Silana Village.

Ladies and Gentlemen

With those words, it gives me great pleasure to officially declare the Babale Bures – a Silana Youth Eco - Tourism Project open.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.

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