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Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Less than a year ago today, I sat in this very village, speaking face-to-face with many of the same faces which I have the pleasure of seeing here this afternoon.

When I came here last July, my purpose was to commission the Naseyani Primary School, which was rebuilt under my Government’s school rehabilitation programme. It was a commitment that your village’s new primary school, one of many damaged or destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Winston, was completed to a better, more climate-resilient standard than before we were hit by the strongest storm ever recorded in Fiji. And when I came here to commission the new Naseyani School, I came with the spirit of talanoa, of open and constructive dialogue, on how we could expand on that success to build even further upon the progress that we had already made.

Because while my Government is able to provide the vision, the funding, the right materials, and the blueprints to build a stronger school, we are not the teachers, the parents, and the students who the building will serve day in and day out. 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. And it was during that day’s talanoa session when you spoke of the needs of the students of Naseyani village, which led to where we are today.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m glad to say that, as a result of this direct and open line of communication that was opened last July, the idea for the building we stand before today was born, and the promise was made to set the construction of this dining hall into motion. Just a few short months after breaking ground, you can be proud of the very real results of your words that day. Thanks to my Government’s innovative Small Grant Scheme, we were able to deliver on this promise, ahead of its scheduled completion, at a benefit of over 224 thousand dollars to your village.

My fellow Fijians, this dining hall isn’t just about the accomplishment we gather here to celebrate this afternoon. It is about much more than just a new facility, more than the new furniture and gas burners, and even more than the students who will use it. It is about those students’ future. This is why I am so passionate about making long-term investments in Fiji’s future generations, whether it’s fighting to combat climate change on the global stage or providing free primary education to all Fijian students for the first time in our history. It is why, through new scholarships and our TELS programme, that my Government is opening doors to tertiary education to new generations who would once find it out of reach. It is this vision, this forward-focus, that drives us to invest so heavily in infrastructure, and it is why we are dedicated to nurturing innovative and exciting industries. Because whether we are preparing for a changing economy or a changing climate, the new Fiji is built not only to last, but to flourish. Together, united like never before, we are building the Fiji of tomorrow, today.

You’ve seen the progress that has been achieved, the record prosperity that we are committed to sharing with each and every Fijian man, woman, and child throughout our great nation. In fact, to those outside of this community, this dining hall may seem small. But this is part of a much bigger story that we are taking part in—because when we say that we’re building back bigger and better than ever, we aren’t just talking about our schools or our dining halls. Step by step, we are creating a brighter future for all Fijians.

Let today stand as proof: my Government’s talanoa sessions lead to action. When I head back home to Suva, or on to my next stop, the conversations that I have with ordinary Fijians like you stay with me long after I’ve left. Under my Government, a promise made is a promise delivered.

As we soon enter into an election season, your communities will be filled with candidates hoping to win your favour over kava while making all sorts of claims and guarantees. My advice to you is to pay attention to those who can give you inclusive development. My advice to you is to pay attention to those who genuinely care for you. My advice to you is to pay attention to those who can focus on a positive future for you and our country.

Ladies and gentlemen, the record of achievement Fiji has accomplished under my leadership stands on its own. As we enter into our ninth straight year of economic growth, the signs of that growth are all around us. My Government has proven the ability to steer the Fijian economy through unchartered waters to accomplish unprecedented success.

And as I have spoken at length today about delivered promises, I can offer you one more before I leave: by continuing under my leadership, the best days for Fiji are yet to come.

It is with great pleasure that I now officially open the Naseyani School dining hall.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications