If more support is needed during these volatile periods after six months, it will be provided.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made the comments as he backed the 2022/2023 national budget in parliament today.

Bainimarama says it has responded through a new $60 million inflation mitigation program. He says that includes cash support to families paid per child, a dollar a day or $30 a month.

He says it is by no means a fortune, but it is a difference for many families in need between the start of August and the end of December.

The prime minister said there were also one-time payments of $180 for higher education students, people on government pensions and after-care and social assistance recipients.

The prime minister says they borrowed so families could put food on the table and businesses didn’t have to shut down forever.

He says if our people had not had access to the unemployment benefits rolled out during the pandemic and the social support they never cut during the pandemic, families would not have been able to feed their children and keep their homes. and their businesses would have had to borrow at much higher rates just to survive if they could borrow at all.

Bainimarama says the Attorney General and the Economy Ministry team deserve the praise.

He says the most telling commentary on the budget comes from their opponents calling it an election budget, which is a funny way of admitting it’s a damn good budget for the people.

Bainimarama says they are not working for an election, they are working for the people.

He says the opposition calls the assistance giveaways and it shows their intellectual bankruptcy.

The Prime Minister said only a politician sitting in the comfort of his office would dare to call social support a gift.

He also stresses that the government is not running a buy-for-1-free sale on televisions, and that it is keeping the most vulnerable in our society safe.

He says the opposition had 10 days to provide credible alternative policies, and the government heard nothing from them except schoolyard tantrums. Bainimarama says he trusts people to tell the difference between those who work to serve them and those who haven’t bothered to present them with an alternative budget, those who haven’t bothered to complete their terms in parliament and those who have not bothered to tell the truth to the public.

He points out that Professor Biman Prasad misled the population on the guaranteed price of cane.

The prime minister says if the teacher can’t understand basic math, he should go back to school.

He also says Prof Prasad should go talk to his former colleague, Dr Rup Singh, who said Fiji’s debt levels were sustainable. He says it’s a real analysis from a real professor who still believes in objective truth and didn’t sacrifice his academic credentials on the altar of political ambition.

Bainimarama also says that Prasad and his new bedmate Sitiveni Rabuka only know how to paint the worst possible picture of the country through guesswork, pessimism and fabricated theories.

Prasad had issued a statement saying that the government had betrayed the sugarcane growers by reducing the guaranteed price allocation from $85 per ton to $8 million in the upcoming budget.

Click here for full coverage of the 2022/2023 national budget debate.