It is unfortunate that for some reason, the FijiFirst Party chooses to sensationalise issues in the media before looking properly at the facts.  


If they wish to talk about the environment, look no further at how they have allowed Draunibota Bay in Lami to become – over the years - a graveyard for derelict vessels, or the Malolo Island resort development debacle, which they only reacted to once the international press had reported on that issue.   


The people of Fiji understand well the record of the FijiFirst Party when it comes to the environment.  


It is not as perfect as Honourable Reddy makes it to be. 


In terms of the facts, the Honourable Reddy was totally wrong. The stop work order against Laucala Island Resort’s hangar under construction, was never issued by the Department of the Environment.  


It was issued by Fiji Airports Limited in September 2022.  


There was no proper explanation given to Laucala Island, and it reeked of government interference, a well-known trait of the previous government.  


It was the new Coalition Government - through the decisive leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, working together with Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Gavoka and I that got the stop order removed. 


We need to treat ALL investors - both local and international - with respect. 


If they follow due process and the law, they should be encouraged, NOT victimized. It is as simple as that. 


This will be the new normal in Fiji, and this will build investor confidence in the country. 


For Honourable Reddy's information, Laucala Island has spent more than $800m Fijian in our country, and it remits $3m, in foreign exchange monthly, to Fiji.  


With regard to the factory in Ba, -- another matter the Honourable Reddy raised – this company received a stop order notice last week, and it was going to put 200 workers in Ba out of work. 


Given the serious implications, I as Minister responsible for Trade, initiated an urgent meeting with the Department of Environment to discuss the case. I wish to place on the record my appreciation to the Director, and the Permanent Secretary for Environment, for agreeing to the meeting.  


Contrary to what Honourable Reddy alleged, I did not threaten anyone at that meeting, and the overall tone was one of facilitation, respect and cordiality.  


At the end of the meeting, a way was found to keep the factory open, and for the testing of air quality to be conducted at the Steel mill in Ba. The tests are continuing as I speak.  


It has to be noted that ultimately, the Coalition Government's actions has resulted in a major investor being allowed to continue their $13m project and that is significant.  It builds confidence with the investors both local and international and I think it augurs well for our country.  


Just imagine if the Laucala investor had decided to pull out of Fiji, and the reputational damage it would have caused to our country.  


As for the factory in Ba, the 200 people in Ba are getting their pay cheque, and are working together with the Department of Environment to ensure that the requirements of the Department of Environment are honoured and respected. 


For the record, and for Hon. Mahendra Reddy’s record, both these urgent matters were driven from my office, and not from the Honourable office of the Prime Minister, as mischievously stated by Honourable Reddy.   


To conclude, I want to place the Honourable Reddy on notice about some parts of his statement, which were of great concern. 


Vinaka vakalevu & Thank you.