Expansion of Rural Economy: Bold Moves for Growth

The Minister for Rural and Maritime Development, Sakiasi Ditoka, announced that the government is prioritizing the expansion of the rural economy by investing in more rural infrastructure. During his budget response, Ditoka highlighted that the new budget aims to bridge development inequalities between rural and urban areas.

“Our rural people have long been marginalized with limited access to essential services, infrastructure, and economic opportunities. Recognizing and unlocking the wealth of resources, cultural heritage, and human potential existing in our communities remains our priority,” Ditoka said.

The government’s new budget focuses on expanding rural infrastructure to enhance economic opportunities and empower individuals and communities in remote areas. This sector has seen an increased budget allocation of 8.8 million dollars.

“This substantial investment demonstrates the government’s commitment to developing resilient rural communities as part of SDG 11. The coalition government firmly believes that enhancing access to main road networks for rural communities will help them integrate more effectively into our national economy, aiding overall progress,” Ditoka stated.

Ditoka appreciated the allocation of $354.8 million to the Fiji Road Authority for the ongoing construction and maintenance of roads, upgrading and replacing bridges and jetties, and improving rural roads. Additionally, the Ministry of Public Works received a total of 5 million dollars for the maintenance and upgrade of rural roads, including a 5 million dollar allocation to improve maritime shipping access.

He also noted that while rural areas are resource-rich, they are often cash-poor. A 6 million dollar allocation to the Agriculture Ministry is set to boost productivity. “Rural poverty remains a stark reality, but addressing it holds the key to transforming communities and breaking the cycle of poverty,” Ditoka stressed.

Ditoka commended the government’s efforts to enhance market access through a 2.5 million dollar allocation to the Agricultural Marketing Authority, which will complement assistance provided under the ministry to boost economic capabilities.

Furthermore, a 5 million dollar grant to the Pacific Polytech is expected to offer technical training for individuals from rural and maritime communities to address Fiji’s skill shortage. The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development is allocated a total of 37.9 million dollars in the new budget.

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