Prime Minister-elect Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has outlined policy areas and new appointments in an exclusive interview with Kaniva news this morning in which he revealed the government’s new slogan – “Counting two as one.”
In Tongan, “Lau e ua ko e taha”, means to regard two people with different views as one and treat them the same way.
Outlining his policy to convince the public after strong supporters of the Democrats criticised his defection to a new party before winning the premiership election last week, Tu’i’onetoa said he was confident his government would build the nation under the leadership of a diverse cabinet which included MPs from the nobility, independents and Democrats.
This was a time for “reconciliation” and uniting the country which has been long divided by political rivalries and dispute, he said.
It would not be possible to build the nation if it was divided, the Prime Minister told Kaniva news, saying the king, the nobles and the people must be in unity.
He said he would continue delivering some of the priorities set out in the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s government, in which he said, he was the mastermind as Minister of Finance.
However, he said he had put aside the six controversial new bills the former government had attempted to pass through the legislature because his government did not have the time to do it.
He also warned his government was given only two more years to operate before the next general election in November 2021.
He said the current government budget could not be changed until the end of the current fiscal year in June 2020.
He said he masterminded the nine social and political priorities written in the budget and how the government intended to achieve these.
Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said, given the two-year time frame, his government would focus on sealing all pubic roads with tar and filling roads to plantations and tax allotments with rocks.
He expected 50 percent of this project to be completed within their two years in office and leave the rest for the next two years.
The Prime Minister said the government using information and communication technologies, known as e-government, to improve the activities of public sector organisations would be the other priority of his government.
He said it has been for 20 years since the government first attempted to have its working system fully digitised and computerised but that has yet to be completed.
“The system is out of date and slow”, he said, and as a result the connectivity between the main island of Tongatapu and the outer islands to deliver better education and health supports had been missed.
He said the master system for e-government must be controlled by a local company. He said before it was handled by foreign companies, which was expensive. It also took a long time to receive a response from the companies if an issue needed to be fixed.
Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said he would appoint two advisors for the two budget priorities.
He said urgent meetings would be set up for all government CEOs to review the current system of communications and how the government serves the people through its public services to make sure they were more efficient and effective.
He said his government will continue improving and making positive changes to education, local marketing and health sectors.