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Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

In April, I was joined by mothers and newborn babies at our Births, Deaths and Marriages office in Suva to officially launch the pilot project of our new Birth Registration App. While launching that test phase, I promised that this would soon be rolled out all over Fiji –– and I’m pleased to be here in Lautoka, just two months later, to deliver on the next phase of that promise, as we extend the app’s services not only to the hospital here, but all throughout the Western Division, to our hospitals in Ba, Lautoka, Sigatoka and Nadi as well. All Fijian babies born on or after June 3rd of this year at any of these hospitals in the West can now register via the app, and we’re not stopping here: Come July 5th, these new-age services will be extended to Savusavu, Labasa, and Taveuni, and by August 9th, our reach will extend to Rakiraki and Nausori.

App development is a complex business, so to have such a streamlined and wide-reaching expansion in such a short time after launch is a huge accomplishment in itself –– one that can be largely attributed to the partnership that we have struck with our trailblazing strategic partners.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Birth Registration App is the latest iteration of one of my government’s most modern and transformative initiatives to date –– an historic and wide-reaching partnership with the Singaporean government, digitalFIJI, that is revolutionising the way government services are tracked, filed, and –– most importantly –– delivered to the Fijian people.

Now, I understand we have some new mothers in the room today who were among the first in the West to register the births of their children online. First of all – let me say, congratulations on welcoming some of our newest Fijians into the world. I’m incredibly proud of the country they are born into, and I know they have bright futures ahead of them. And to start that future out on the right foot, some of the mothers who are present will also be receiving paperwork for their Parenthood Assistance Payments –– adding to the impressive total of more than 7,000 families who have benefited from this ambitious new government initiative as of last month.

With today’s extension of the Birth Registration App, we’ve done away with some of the stress faced by you and other new parents of newborns who are living in the West, making the days and weeks following the birth of a child less of a hassle by bringing the birth registration process online. By doing so, we’re saving your families valuable time –– time that can be much better spent meeting the many demands of parenthood.

And we have one more exciting announcement to make as we look ahead to the digital frontier: Starting tomorrow, June 14th, you will have the ability to use your new digitalFIJI profiles in yet another way –– as a new e-payment platform to pay for government services online, using your visa debit or credit cards or M-PAiSA accounts, instead of queuing up at the cashier.

With your new e-profiles, you are now armed with a single gateway to all of our present and future e-services, including information relating to the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service and the Fiji National Provident Fund, as well as companies searches. And if you ever simply need to have a birth certificate re-printed, for whatever reason, you can do that electronically through the Birth Registration App as well, pay and set up a time to come and it pick up at this very BDM office. For the next one year, Government will be covering all associated card or MPaisa service fees on electronic payments for government services,–– yet another reason to join on to this future-facing platform.

Under the digitalFIJI programme, we also have the Walesi platform, so Fijians can now watch television using the Walesi app. In fact, when we were playing the sevens in London, in that weekend alone, we had up to 250,000 users. What this means is that over the weekend, about 250,000 people had watched the games on their phones through the Walesi app.

And if you were listening to the 2019-2020 National Budget announcement just last week, you will know that there are many more projects in the digital pipeline for you to look forward to. When we’ve referred to this as a “digital transformation”, we meant it –– and that progress is being seen through improvements to every corner of your lives. From being able to watch television via Walesi, which is soon expanding to include new channel package offerings, to paying for government services, to registering your business and more, the future of efficiency is digital, and through my government’s latest National Budget, we are staying ahead of the curve. We’ll be announcing new initiatives in the weeks ahead, so I encourage you all to take a few minutes to visit the digitalFIJI website and create an e-profile today.

Friends, Fiji has been on the rise for quite some time. Our economy is entering into a record decade-long growth streak, unemployment is low and investment is high. Our nation is undertaking new development at an historic place, and the services that Fijians rely on are rapidly becoming better and easier to access. It’s a wonderful time not only to be a Fijian, but as this rollout shows, it’s never been a better time to have a child in Fiji.

I truly look forward to seeing what these young children here in Lautoka today –– and all of Fiji’s children –– have in store for them through this golden age of Fijian opportunity.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications