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February 19, 2021       FMF National Gymnasium, Suva.

The Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources, Honourable Jone Usamate;

The Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, 

Mr. Taitusi Vakadravuyaca;

The Water Authority of Fiji Board, Chairman, Mr. Bhavesh K. Patel and the Board Members;

The Chief Executive Officer of the Water Authority of Fiji, Mr. Barry Omundson; 

The Senior Management and All Staff of the Water Authority of Fiji;

The Sponsors, Organisers and Supporters of the Water Medal Excellence Awards;

Distinguished Guests; 

Ladies and Gentlemen. 

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaam Alaykum, Noa’ia ‘e mauri and a very Good Evening to you all.

Ladies and gentlemen, at the outset, please allow me to commend and thank the Honourable Jone Usamate, Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands & Mineral Resources, Mr. Taitusi Vakadravuyaca, The Permanent Secretary Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, Mr. Bhavesh Patel, The Chairman and Members of The Water Authority of Fiji Board, Mr. Barry Omundson, The Chief Executive Officer of The WAF, Management and Staff of The Water Authority of Fiji for kindly inviting My wife Sarote and I to celebrate the WAF 2020 Water Medal Excellence Awards Night with you.

This prestigious Water Medal of Excellence Award was initially hosted by the Water Authority of Fiji in 2016, to acknowledge and appropriately reward Employees who had continuously performed exceptionally well by showcasing The WAF’s Organisational Values and displayed Excellence in all levels of their performance. Achieving Excellence ladies and gentlemen, as we understand is not a result of Wishful thinking or luck – rather, the outcome of setting realistic and positive Goals – and of course working Hard and Smart towards the attainment of those goals, spurred on by Good Leadership! 

In fact, I deem it a great honour and pleasure indeed to be invited to officiate as The Chief Guest and present the Recipients of The 2020 Water Medal of Excellence Award with their well-earned and deserved awards - which come with our warmest congratulations, best wishes and hope, that individually and collectively you will continue to do well in ensuring that The Water Authority of Fiji continues to serve our Beloved Nation well by Providing all Fijians with a Clean, Efficient and Effective Fresh Water and Wastewater Service in a Sustainable Manner within an environmentally sound system.

This is a ‘Big Ask,’ and it would be remiss of me if I do not, at this juncture, Acknowledge, Commend and also Congratulate and Thank the Honourable Minister, The WAF Board Chairman and Board Members, The Chief Executive Officer, The Senior Officials of The Ministry for your hard work and untiring efforts as you lead and support at the helm of this very vital and important Commercial Statutory Arm of Government in successfully meeting one of its critical and in my humble opinion, fundamentally obligatory responsibilities of Government to all Fijians – by providing our people with one of the basic necessities of life – Fresh Clean Water.

Furthermore, in its endeavours to successfully meet its primary Deliverable Outcomes to the Consumers in accordance with Section 36(1) of The Constitution which mandates that: “The State must take reasonable measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of every person to be free from hunger, to have adequate food of acceptable quality and to clean and safe water in adequate quantities;” the Water Authority of Fiji has done exceptionally well in recent times, despite numerous challenges and disruptions consequent upon the ravages of natural disasters (like Tropical Cyclones Winston, Harold, Yasa and Ana), to dedicate its efforts and focus on Excellence in Staff Performance and Product through an equally commendable Service Delivery Capability to all customers.

This daunting task has been on-going now for sometime and as your President/Head of State, I would also like to formally acknowledge and Thank each and everyone of you for your individual and collective efforts in serving all citizens of our Beloved Fiji well.

Ladies and gentlemen, achieving Excellence in any field of work demands passion, conviction and an insatiable desire for greatness and achievement which are invaluable pre-requisites for any individual or organisation to succeed and we are here tonight to pay tribute to those dedicated and deserving individuals and teams within the WAF who have “made the cut” in this regard.

Identifying these High Achievers who are to be presented with these Excellence Awards tonight has been a formidable task for the Committee or in this case, – The Submission Panel who did a tremendous job in deliberating the 42 Nominations submitted for the 2020 Award.  I understand that the Panel determined the selection criteria and made the final selection of the Recipients by utilising the Quantifiable Approach/ Method. To the hardworking members of The Panel – Thank you for your hardwork in contributing towards tonight’s success!   

To these recipients of the WAF Excellence Awards you have undoubtedly demonstrated to yourselves, colleagues and superiors your determination and passion to continuously strive for Excellence in your work and for this we are most grateful and sincerely appreciative. Well Done and Thank you for your selfless contributions to Government’s overall Nation-Building efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Water Medal Excellence Award is a necessary and ideal platform and medium in which The Minister and his Senior Staff are assisted by The Board to critically and analytically assess individual Staff performances and the Organisation’s overall viability and performance whilst operating and aligning themselves with the Water Authority of Fiji’s Vision, Core Organisational Values and Targetted Outcomes. This is a necessary process and the ideal Management practice which is crucial more than ever now in these difficult and trying times to encourage innovation, improve Productivity and better position The Water Authority of Fiji for positive and sustainable growth into the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, in my keynote address to the recipients of the Fiji Business Excellence Awards the previous year, I had briefly mentioned to those present, that modern technologies and innovation are just some of the key facets and trends that are now transforming the global business landscape. In view of this, I am so heartened to see the Organisation’s support of The Government’s initiative to promote and utilise Digital Fiji to enhance The Organisation’s public service delivery capability, thus making it more accessible and convenient to all Fijians.     

I commend the Water Authority of Fiji in this regard for its introduction of e-payments and e-services to improve service delivery. Progressive online payment of bills has greatly enhanced and facilitated the prompt settlement of transactions to the satisfaction of the Service Provider and Consumer alike – and this ladies and gentlemen is now the “Accepted Norm” in how business will be conducted. 

Consequent upon the traumatic, social disruptive and economical devastating impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, humanity is still gripped and grappling with how to deal with the “New Norm” and how the global community is to continue to interact, co-exist and possibly, survive in the future – a future which is inevitably, uncertain and wrought with other Threats like Climate Change – which are Real, Present and Imminent in their capacity to destabilise further our ability to maintain the status quo in terms of  longevity in good Healthy Life, Peace and Prosperity.

Therefore, Anticipating and Managing Customer Expectations in view of Service Delivery Capabilities today, require a genuine concern and an honest desire to work hard and smart, and be flexible enough to adjust accordingly to the rapid and ever-changing Customer/Consumer Demands for an Organisation like the WAF to remain relevant and prosperous, hence my support and willingness to be involved in such an Awards Ceremony like tonight’s celebration.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a former Government Minister for Industrial Relations and Productivity, I consider it prudent and proper that we also pay tribute and acknowledge the tremendous support of The Recipients’ spouses, partners, families and friends who are the behind-the-scene force which motivates and encourages the former to continue to remain focussed and committed to Excellence and Success at the workplace. Such support from The Home Front is critical for the maintenance of Good Morale and Increased level of Productivity.

Similarly, at this juncture and before I conclude I would like to register our thanks and appreciation to our very supportive and kind Sponsors whose invaluable contribution to tonight’s success is to be noted and commended by one and all.  Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyavaad!

Congratulations once again to the WAF Excellence Award Recipients and for the others, please do not be disheartened nor discouraged because I am convinced that you too have the potential to also Excel in your work. 

Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Fa’eksia, and May Almighty God bless you all and our Beloved Fiji.