a) Momo Na Tui Nadi
b) Momo Na Tui Nawaka
c) Chair of Special Administrator for Nadi and Sigatoka Town Councils – Mr. Lawrence Kumar
d) Special Administrator for Nadi and Sigatoka Town Council – Mr. Sanjit Patel
f) Acting Chief Executive of Nadi Town Council – Mr. Muni Reddy
g) Invited Guests
h) Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula Vinaka to you all.
It gives me great pleasure to officiate the ground-breaking ceremony for the sealing of the minibus base in Nadi Town.

I am advised that this base serve 87 Viti-mini base holders, covering routes from Rakiraki, Tavua, Lautoka, Sigatoka, and Suva. The current condition of the base during rainy days has posed a lot of difficulties for the commuters. Thus, this upgrade will be most welcomed.
With over 500 daily commuters relying on this base, the sealing project will significantly enhance their quality of life. No longer will they have to face the challenges of a gravel base that turns muddy during the rainy days.
This is the first phase of an overall upgrade plan. In the next financial year, we plan to introduce a shelter, public washroom, and kiosk.
The upgrades will not only reduce the annual maintenance costs for the Council but also ensure improved service delivery, a core responsibility of the Council.
To make your towns and cities sustainable and resilient, it is important that all ratepayers contribute by paying their rates. 
I am pleased to inform that the Cabinet has approved the amnesty period for residential ratepayers. What this means ratepayers who clear the principal rates before 31 July 2023, will be entitled for waiver of interests that may have accumulated on your defaulting rates.
I would like to reiterate that all ratepayers who have arrears on their rates can take advantage of this opportunity. Rates is one of the major sources of revenue for the Municipal Councils. The revenue generated from this source is used by the Councils to ensure continuity of essential services and enhance the Council operations. Needless to say, the funds collected contributes towards beautifying the cities and towns and capital development.
Having said the above, I wish to remind that local government has a role to make sure our cities and towns have the ability, capability, and resources to handle the problems caused by urbanization has emerged as a critical global concern.

The success of Fiji's development depends on infrastructure that is reliable to encourage people and businesses to invest in the future. We have witnessed recent infrastructure development in bridges, roads, jetties, to name a few. This not only minimises the challenges of isolation from markets and services, however, also connects each individual to new opportunities.
We have seen urban growth as an opportunity, a challenge and a strong indicator of development and economic progress. They play a front-line role in responding to crises and emergencies as well in planning for an inclusive, resilient and green future.
The City and Town Councils in Fiji are at the forefront of managing the demands of urbanisation and seizing opportunities. Inequality, service delivery, climatic vulnerability, and the rate of urban growth itself are just a few of the issues that our urban centers are currently dealing with. This fact cannot be ignored. Our current vulnerabilities have been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic's unparalleled effects on our population and economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Adopting the "green town" initiative and thinking are vital for local Municipal Councils in Municipal Planning. Beautification is one area that Municipal Towns and Cities are currently focusing on. Besides, creating sustainable environment through a network of communities will enable our generations to enjoy a healthy environment, prosperous economy and vibrant civic life.
I am pleased to note that the Nadi Town Council is committed to beautifying the town, starting with initiatives such as renewing rubbish bins, painting curbs, and renovating flower beds. We call upon the business community to join hands with the Council in enhancing the aesthetic appeal of Nadi.
Additionally, it is crucial for us to address social issues such as homelessness, beggars, and supporting the less fortunate in our streets. As a prominent tourism town, Nadi must work collaboratively with NGOs, religious organizations, and the business community to find comprehensive solutions.
I have emphasized the importance of Public Private partnerships (PPPs) in undertaking various projects. These partnerships offer tremendous potential to increase the Council's revenue base.
I place a challenge to the Team of Special Administrators, the management, and the Council staff to develop projects in the upcoming financial year that will uplift the lives of our people. Let us focus on creating parks, promoting recreational activities, and generating sustainable revenue.
I would like to commend the Sister City Relationships and Friendship Arrangements established between the Municipal Councils and their international counterparts, an on-going initiative of the Ministry of Local Government. The relationships and arrangements are for the purpose of discussing issues of mutual interest and coordinating in the areas of culture, education and economic growth.
In conclusion, we do understand that there is a need for collaboration between the national government, local government and private sectors to ensure successful realisation of the vision of Municipal Councils. We need pragmatic inter-agency partnership to meet the demands of our ratepayers.
It involves a continuous process of negotiation and contestation over the allocation of social and material resources. Urban governance involves a range of actors and institutions; the relationships among them determine what happens in the cities and towns. In managing urban transformations, the Councils need to play a strategic role in forging partnerships with and among key stakeholders.
As such, I encourage the relevant stakeholders and agencies to collaborate with the Municipal Councils to beautify our towns and cities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Ministry remains dedicated to providing support to the Municipal Councils and ensuring efficient service delivery to ratepayers.
Vinaka Vakalevu.