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Investiture Ceremony for the 2016 Honour Roll Recipients

February 24, 2017       State House, Suva

The Former President His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau;

The Chief Justice, Honourable Justice Anthony Gates; 

The Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Dr. Jiko Luveni ;

Honourable Cabinet and Assistant Ministers;

Honourable Members of Parliament;

Your Excellencies the High Commissioners and Ambassadors;

Recipients of the 2016 Honours and Awards;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Aslaam Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e mauri, and a very good morning to you all.

My wife Sarote and I are deeply honoured with your presence at this investiture ceremony for the recipients of the 2016 honours and awards.

I wish to extend my sincere apologies that we had to defer the ceremony from December due to an act of nature - a tropical depression was upon Fiji and it was considered prudent that we placed the safety and welfare of our people as our utmost priority.

On Monday this week, we held a commemoration service to remember those who lost their lives in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston, exactly a year ago. 

I mentioned in my national address that in commemorating the first anniversary of one of the most traumatic days in Fijian history, we should also express our gratitude to Almighty God for sparing much of our nation and especially those areas on which our economy depends. We should also celebrate the Fijian spirit of caring and the many friends we have in the world.

Today is another opportunity to celebrate the distinguished and eminent services, and the bravery of our fellow Fijians, and our friends from abroad, for their selfless contribution to our beloved nation.

During my own investiture as the Chancellor of the Order of Fiji last year, I publicly expressed my commitment to cultivate a culture of appreciation to complement the significant transformation and modernization that Fiji experienced in the past decade, and continues to experience.

Government projects, that we will this year, achieve the longest period of sustained economic growth since our independence in 1970. This equates to eight years of consecutive growth. When our economy performs well, our peoples’ socio-economic status and standard of living improve. Our education, health and supporting infrastructure, among other things, will also improve. 

It is the people behind our national growth that I want to acknowledge. These are people in both the private and public sectors, in the urban and rural communities. 

I want to ensure that the Nation recognises all the individuals who give selflessly of their time and resources to help Fiji develop at the community, national and international levels. 

I want to ensure that people who put their lives on the line – some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice – are recognised. Our records reveal that Fiji has granted national honours to about 613 individuals since the Honours and Awards Act was established in 1995. 

This works out to an average of 29 individuals in a year over the past 21 years. With a population of 869,458 as of December 2015, this equates to an average of 0.003 percent per year.