House of Parliament continues the debate on the 2021 National Budget

Lifestyle News

Issue No. 01/2021 – Monday, 11 January 2021 (Kitiona Tausi)

In the last issue of Tuvalu Paradise Daily, Issue No. 14/2020, the debate ended with the Prime Minister’s contribution and supporting the budget.

In this issue, after the Prime Minister’s contribution, Hon Minister of Works, Infrastructures, Labor, Environment, Meteorology and Disaster, Hon Amupelosa Tehulu supported the allocation for the new classrooms at Nanumea as well the extra funding to complete the classrooms at Nukufetau.

In the issue of the new regulations banning trading on Sundays and the daily 15 minutes’ curfew as a respect for family evening devotions, Hon Tehulu said that as a result, Tuvalu is making a very big contribution to reducing carbon dioxide.

With the standing still of running vehicles during this curfew and the reduced movement of vehicles on Sundays as all businesses were closed, he said, “a big reduction in the release of carbon dioxide is effected and thus Tuvalu is contributing a lot to saving the world from the impacts of climate change.” This effect, however led him to support the regulations.

His rough calculations amounted to about 166 metric tons of carbon dioxide that is kept from being released to the atmosphere as a result of the regulations.

Hon Tehulu said the it is quite difficult to observe these regulations on the capital but on the outer islands, people even without the regulations, respected the time of evening devotions and out of this respect, vehicle drivers stopped their vehicles outside the main village just to respect the family devotions. He also believed that those who play sports in the field respected the evening devotion by observing it at the field by sitting down and saying a prayer.

“The regulation is under the authority of the Minister and does not mean to stop activities like feastings, birthday celebrations, etc. In this first week when this regulation came into force, “we all have our individual observation about its impacts on our society, said Hon Tehulu.

“Although businesses closed on Saturday, we are grateful to one business who remained open that first Saturday, without it, we would have suffered.”

In regard to the construction of airfields in all the islands for the domestic air-service, Hon Tehulu congratulated Cabinet for this investment initiative. “We have the Sea Bee Air service in the past, but two islands, Nanumea and Nanumaga have been missed out of this service.

Hon Amupelosa who is also a Member of Parliament from Nanumea also thanked Government for a proposed plan to have a second international airport on Nanumea.”

In line with the new rated on government leased lands, Hon Tehulu felt sorry for the people of Funafuti for their lands being leased by government and they are facing problems of land scarcity for their own development and welfare especially for agriculture. He advised that Parliament should think wisely as to how we spend our money.

At the end of his contribution, he supported the 2021 Budget.

Minister of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs also offered a contribution to the budget. He said COVID-19 has increase the usage of the internet and the digital technology. Before the pandemic, Tuvalu only used 200 MGB and since the pandemic it has greatly increased to about 800MGB.

“In April 2020 the satellite dishes at Nanumea, Niutao and Nukufetau has expired and thus affected the internet connectivity and promptly Kacifica International came in to the rescue and Telecom installed two satellite dishes to all islands.

“There will soon be a new mobile tarriff about 30-50% reduction in the internet connectivity,” said the Minister.

Hon Kofe also praised the new Tuvalu Foreign Policy that was recently launched with the name “Sikulagi” saying that “it is a unique policy that was based solely on Tuvalu values.

Regarding the closure of our mission in Brussels, Hon Kofe said most of the work discharged by the Brussel mission can be done in Abu Dhabi, UAE or in USA or in Tuvalu but with the UAE, Tuvalu can benefit much considering its advance technology in renewable energy, technology in the creation of artificial islands and its vast resources.

On the issue of the Citizenship by Investment program, he said, there are benefits and there are also risks and the project will commence with a consultation process. In February 2021, he will pay   visit to the outer islands to discuss this project.

On the passport scheme, Hon Kofe explained that it has failed when it was first introduced in the 1990s and the failure had been to the fact that the scheme has no link or connection to the issue of citizenship. He said there should be a comprehensive research required for this scheme before it is reintroduced.

Opposition Member of Parliament from Nanumaga, Hon Monise Laafai also commented on the budget saying it is a very strange budget as it can be named as a very unique budget:

  1. It has surpassed $100 million
  2. It comes as a balanced budget which is a myth and unbelievable.

Hon Laafai said that as from 2017 up to 2019, the budget has been increased in the ratio of 30%. “In March 2020, we approved a substantial budget for the COVID-19 pandemic for the procurement of medical supplies, machineries and equipment. Having heard that a vaccine has been found for the cure of the virus, Hon Laafai asked if those equipment and machineries are still needed.

In regard to the new rates for government-leased land, Nanumaga rejected the different rates and it is demanding for one rate only and no zoning.

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