Bula Vinaka members of the media and a very good morning to you all.
I would like to extend my warm greetings to all of you today, as we gather to discuss a matter of utmost significance - the Local Government Elections.
As the Minister responsible for Housing and Local Government, I am honoured to address you on Local Government Elections, which holds immense importance for our nation and our people.
First and foremost, I would like to emphasise the unwavering commitment of the Coalition Government to uphold the principles of democracy and to empower the residents of our municipalities and communities. It is our firm belief that the power to choose representatives in the Council should be vested in the hands of the very individuals who reside in these areas. It allows the residents to elect leaders who understand the unique needs and challenges of their local areas because they are part of those communities. This is about having the civic pride that every resident has and the developments they think would be best for their respective communities.
The forthcoming Local Government Elections is a testament to this commitment, and we are dedicated to ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process.
The Local Government Elections stands as a beacon of hope for our communities, representing the potential for significant positive change. It is not just a democratic exercise; but an opportunity to enhance the livelihoods of our people and drive economic development at the grassroots level. We recognise that the decisions made at the local level have a direct impact on the daily lives of our citizens, and it is our duty to ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs addressed.
In light of this commitment, the Coalition Government, through Cabinet decisions, has taken several pivotal steps. Pursuant to Cabinet approval, the Ministry of Local Government has established a dedicated Working Group, which is chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Local Government and comprising the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Solicitor-General, Acting Supervisor of Elections, and the 13 Municipal Council CEOs. This group has been tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the preparations for the upcoming elections to ensure they are conducted in a transparent, efficient, and inclusive manner.

Furthermore, the Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of policy and legislative considerations that have culminated in proposed amendments to the Local Government Act 1972 and relevant Regulations. These proposed amendments are aimed at modernising and improving the legislative framework under which our local governments operate, with the ultimate goal of efficiently and effectively serving the interests of our communities.
In closing, I wish to reiterate our unwavering commitment to the principles of democracy and the empowerment of our citizens through the Local Government Elections. We believe that these elections will pave the way for a brighter future for all, where the voices of our people are heard, their needs addressed, and their aspirations realised.
I would like to express my gratitude to all stakeholders involved and extend an invitation to the media to actively participate in the face-to-face public consultations, which will be held from 25 September to 14 October 2023. Your role in disseminating information and promoting civic engagement is invaluable, and we look forward to your active participation in this democratic process.
We have provided all the Schedule that consists of the dates, times and venues for the face-to-face consultations
Thank you for your attention, and I am now open to questions from the media.