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Multi-ethnic meetings in Fiji

Multi-ethnic prepares for DAC meetings

The second round of District Advisory Council meetings will commence in two week's time.

Director of Multi Ethnic Affairs Mukesh Prasad said the meetings will be held in all the 17 districts throughout Fiji.

The meeting he said will commence in the Central Division on 19th September and will be carried out in other divisions till 21st October.

According to Mr Prasad, advisory councillors, government advisors and representatives from statutory organisations are invited to attend the meetings.

Issues such as provisions for better cane access roads, scholarship and facilitation of projects through self- help schemes are often discussed at the District Advisory Council meetings.

For the past four years, Government has spent more than $5.7 million on 1,223 projects in the 17 districts where Advisory Councils operate, the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase told Parliament recently.

And he said, a wide cross-section of projects have been supported in areas such as education, water supplies, cultural needs, bridges, agriculture and fishing.

Mr Qarase highlighted the importance of the National Advisory Councils for Indian and Minority communities and the work done by the Ministry of National Reconciliation and Multi-Ethnic Affairs.

He commended the Chief Executive Officer and staff of the Ministry for their pioneering initiatives in reconciliation and promotion of unity.

He said the Ministry's accomplishments speak for itself proving that the decision to establish it in 2000 was correct and timely at this point in Fiji's history.

"The Ministry has been very active in assisting with community restoration since 2000. It made very helpful contributions in such places as Dreketi, Muaniweni and Dawasamu, which were particularly affected by the social unrest.

"Within the Vanua, the Ministry supported efforts to mend and strengthen relationships. To date, it has conducted a total of 1,801 programmes in the Provinces," the PM said.

He also said the Advisory Councils have become a valuable forum for the Government to listen to all concerns of the people.

"What is discussed by members of the Council is of great assistance to the Government in responding directly to the issues raised.

"Similarly, the 17 District Advisory Councils help to strengthen the link between Government and the people," he said.

Mr Qarase said the Ministry of Multi-Ethnic Affairs continues to encourage community development by encouraging a partnership effort to improve living standards in rural areas through Government assistance to the value of two thirds and the community one third.

And the PM added that the Ministry is also on course to achieve its target of 5,000 scholarships for students from poor and needy families by 2006.

These scholarships he said, are for the young people in the Indian and minority communities and for over the last five years a budget of $14.5 million had been allocated to this programme.

This year through a budget allocation of $4 million the Ministry has granted more than 1,100 new awards and ten per cent of these were for applicants from minority groups.

Mr Qarase also praised the Ministry's Cultural Enhancement Programme saying it has increased significantly from 2001.

The Ministry in Suva, Nausori, Ba, Nadi, Labasa and Savusavu administers registered cultural centres.

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