Tonga faces three main challenges, His Majesty King Tupou VI said today, Thursday 2.
Speaking at the opening of Parliament, the king said these were the people’s physical health, children’s education and the country’s economy.
He said the people’s health was the most vital because if the problem could not be resolved and monitored there was no promising future for our children and their children. Non-communicable diseases were the biggest challenge to the people, His Majesty said.
But he warned that any financial investments made to help improve people’s health must be a success.
“In other words we do not have to wrongly use money which is supposed to be invested in our children’s education in their health or vice-versa,” His Majesty said.
The king said the way to tackle the non-communicable disease crisis in Tonga was to educate young people about it and give them the chances to practise preventive measures.
The other alternative was to allow all Tongan citizens to join the National Retirement Benefits Fund.
In this way citizens could afford anything else to choose from to make sure they get access to what is best for them to live a healthy life.
There was a time in the past when Tonga was the leading nation academically in the Pacific, but this was not the case at present, the king said.
Education in Tonga needed to be upgraded so international institutions continued to recognise it.
“We have learned from our people who have moved and work overseas why our education system needs to meet international academic requirements because that is the demand at international work places and is not just limited to the Pacific,” His Majesty said.
“So it is the government’s responsibility to make sure the standard of education, in accordance with the law, could enable Tongan citizens to obtain jobs overseas.”
He said more than 2000 students finished secondary school every year and they needed jobs.
He said as part of its reformation of the way the kingdom was governed, the government should talk to stakeholders about the best ways to boost the economy.
It was necessary to improve marketing and the economic state of the nation so Tonga could meet future financial challenges. The government should understand what was needed for marketing and we should work together to do it, the king said.
He said a local slipway should be built to meet the development in Tonga’s wharfs and help local fisheries and international vessels.
Growers and local businesses who were marketing their products oversea should be encouraged, he said.
“We cannot compete with the big countries of the world in the amount of production sent overseas, but there are certain marketing products that could be available to us,” the king said.
This including fisheries and crops, especially organic crops. If Tonga could make good deals with overseas markets to get good prices it would support the endeavour to promote the people’s good health.
His Majesty said the other option was the sale of live fish at local markets because its price was high.
The international airport had been expanded and this provided a good opportunity to export more crops because bigger aeroplanes could now arrive at Fu’amotu International Airport.
His Majesty suggested that another option would be to minimise the importation of goods and increase what Tonga could export overseas. He said farmers would benefit if they could buy locally produced animal feed.
He said if Tonga could do these things there was hope that education could grow, the economy would improve and the people could live a better, heathier, life.
The main points
- His Majesty King Tupou VI has declared that the three main challenges facing Tonga are the people’s physical health, children’s education and the country’s economy.
- Non-communicable diseases were the biggest challenge to the people, His Majesty said.
- Education in Tonga needed to be upgraded so international institutions continued to recognise it.
- He also suggested a number of ways to improve the economy.