Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala with Lord Kalaniuvalu, arriving at Parliament
King Tupou VI reminded members of parliament that the best interests of the country as a whole should always be foremost, and not their individual needs or political beliefs, and he urged them to work together so that the country could progress.
After a year of many challenges, the 2012 session of the Tonga Legislative Assembly was closed this morning, October 18, at Parliament House in Nuku'alofa.
A speech from HM King Tupou VI was delivered by Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala, who was accompanied by Lord Kalaniuvalu and Lord Ve'ehala.
The closure, which took less than 15-minutes, was a quiet and sombre event attended by a handful of guests, including some spouses of members, press and staff of the House, with the Tonga Police brass band playing the national anthem.
King Tupou VI's message stated that this parliamentary session faced many challenges and one of the challenges was the Vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister, which the House resolved according to Constitution.
He urged MP's to work together so that the country could make progress. “The best interest of the country as a whole should always be foremost in our thinking and not that of individual needs or political beliefs,” he reminded them.
The king outlined projects that government would be undertaking in the hope of energizing economic development. Plans were underway to set up solar farms in the Eastern district in Tongatapu, Ha'apai and Vava'u, which is in line with the Tonga Energy Road Map, with assistance from foreign countries. The king, who opened the Maama Mai solar farm at Popua in July, hoped that this would assist in reducing the price of electricity.
He said the Tongan economy remained vulnerable to global financial shocks, which were out of our control. “But despite the financial difficulties we were able to withstand those tides in the past in order to maintain and control our current financial state and government expenditure.”
Work was being done to set up a committee to develop small industries in the private sector, and a work-plan was being initiated by a Board for Tourism.
Land and sea
He said it was evident from the recent Agricultural Shows that an opportunity for development lies in the land and sea. “It is the hope to bring agriculture and fisheries back to its rightful place to develop our economy. The only thing left is for government and the private sector to find a way in securing markets for our exports,” he said.
The king who was concerned with the rise of Non-Communicable Diseases advised the community that the only way to combat this was to change our lifestyles.
He was pleased with the launch of the Social Benefits Scheme for the Elderly whom he regarded as important sections of our society. “The small amount awarded to them is to commemorate and thank them for their good work for the country in the past,” said the king.
The king was also happy with the peacekeeping missions carried out by the Tonga Defence Services and police officers assigned to the Solomon Islands, including Tongan troops deployed to Afghanistan.
Education and climate change
“The importance of education remains at the forefront as well as using our resources wisely. We note the challenges of climate change therefore there is a need for all sectors to work closely together in order to build our country in the future,” he said.
He thanked the Speaker Lord Fakafanua, the Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano, and members of parliament for the work accomplished in this session.