Law reform, private sector partnerships, tax system overhaul, climate proofing infrastructure and Niue Ko Kaina feature in Premier’s first national address.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi delivered his first national statement at the opening of the 18th Fono Ekepule on Monday 15th May identifying several key areas that his government will work towards achieving over the next three years.
Law Reforms: Chief among the legal reforms that the Tagelagi government is looking to pursue is to reform the constitution, in his speech Premier Dalton Tagelagi said “We can start with the constitution reforms, something that wasn’t achieved by the 17th Assembly.
He continued to say that “We all know that the constitution needs amendment to meet the demanding work of modern day life and align ourselves to international standards, UN international conventions, institutional membership …that we have established to drive our humble island forward”.
The government has also identified the need to review the Immigration Act, finally pass the Niue Public Service Act that has been in draft form since the early 2000’s, working on an Electoral Bill and a Land Bill.
Premier Tagelagi said that economic recovery post Covid-19 pandemic has been slow but there is optimism that with the re-opening of borders to tourism, revenue streams will improve.
The private sector featured in his statement “The government will look to the private sector to manage some of the government’s projects and grow the public-private partnership”, said Tagelagi.
“Taxes will be reviewed, tax breaks to apply to lower and middle-income earners and pensions will increase to counter the cost of living and inflation.
There will also be an overhaul of the tax system with the introduction of new green taxes “Tax system to overhaul and apply taxes where necessary (environment tax, waste tax and recycling taxes)”.
Climate proofing of public infrastructures such as church buildings and village halls also featured in the plan with Premier Tagelagi saying that “Climate proofing our infrastructure in our community buildings – churches, community halls, and homes”.
He called on representatives of the fourteen villages to ensure strategic plans are in place for their respective villages mapping the future of these villages and that ‘the government stands ready to assist.”
Premier Tagelagi premised these goals and plans of his government on the concept of ‘Niue Ko Kaina’ that “Niue is our home and it must be protected at all costs, from Climate Change. Our built environment must be robust to serve the needs of our people” said Dalton Tagelagi.
The statement wasn’t all about promises, Premier Tagelagi also had a cautionary note for public servants and heads of government agencies not to abuse their responsibilities saying “ Be honest with yourselves, and your responsibilities when working for the government”.
Dalton Tagelagi who is now into his second term as Premier of Niue, said that his government places much value on the guiding principle of transparency in the last three years and will continue to the next three years.
In response to the Premier’s speech, Common Roll MP O’love Tauveve Jacobsen highlighted a number of matters that she felt were missing from the Premier’s statement.
In relation to the principle of transparency and the guiding principle of the Tagelagi government, Jacobsen said that this did not seem genuine because for many years, the BCN studios burned in a fire did not feature in some of the list of infrastructure projects planned in the last three years that will be completed in the next.
Jacobsen said that transparency is about informing the public what is going on in the government and the conduit between the leaders of government and the people is the national broadcaster which has been handicapped by fire for three years.
This sentiment was echoed by other members of the Fono Ekepule including the representative for Avatele Pita Poimamao Vakanofiti who said that he didn’t hear anything about health because in order to have a happy Kaina, we need healthy people.
Health and Education did not feature in Premier Tagelagi’s statement which was noticed by members of the public listening in via live broadcast through BCN’s Radio Sunshine, TV Niue and live streamed to Niueans abroad.
Premier Tagelagi departed the island on Monday afternoon, after delivering his statement. He will be attending the Pacific Leaders meeting in Port Moresby next week and will be in South Korea for the Inaugural Pacific Leaders and South Korea Summit. Premier Tagelagi will also be formalizing the diplomatic relations with South Korea increasing Niue’s diplomatic friends to 21.
In his absence, Minister of Finance Crossley Tatui is Acting Premier until the Premier returns in three week. Hon. Tofua Puletama is also Acting Minister responsible for Premier Tagelagi’s port folios until his return.