Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has paid tributes to Dr Manmohan Singh, who retired as the Prime Minister of India last fortnight.
Dr Singh had earlier announced his intention to quit politics and hence was not a candidate in the recently held general election.
Congratulating him on his completion of two terms (May 2004 to May 2014) as Prime Minister, Mr Bainimarama said that Dr Singh carried his leadership responsibilities of the world’s largest democracy with honour and distinction in various dimensions, particularly during the past ten years making India a vibrant and fast growing economy.
“I thank you for the most generous and warm friendship that you extended to me and my Government for the past several years that has strengthened our bi-lateral relations and integration in many folds,” Mr Bainimarama said in a letter addressed to Dr Singh.
“I wish you good health, your country prosperity and its people happiness. Please accept the assurances of my prayers and God’s blessings upon you and your nation,” he added.
As mentioned in various reports in this and our past issues, India has had distinguished relations with Fiji and with the Bainimarama regime at a time when many powerful countries chose to distance themselves, angered by the military coup led by Mr Bainimarama led on December 5, 2006 and seized power from Laisenia Qarase.
He and his ministerial colleagues have visited India on several occasions at each of which the Indian Government had expressed its solidarity with the Fijian people and examined ways and means of boosting bilateral relations between the two countries.
As reported in our May 15, 2012 issue, the discussions that Mr Bainimarama held with Dr Singh and other ministers in Delhi on April 25, 2012 were considered as an important landmark in Indo-Fiji relations.
“Fiji is a developing country and offers a friendly environment for investors. We have introduced a number of strategic reforms to encourage international investors to consider Fiji as a good investment destination. Among the incentives that we offer include duty free import of manufacturing equipment, machinery for agriculture and industry,” he said, addressing a meeting of businesspersons in the Indian capital.
Mr Bainimarama had said that Fiji was keen to develop its bilateral relations more widely, based on transparency, through open dialogue for a more progressive and effective partnership as declared in Fiji’s guiding document.
During his stay in India, Mr Bainimarama also visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab and met a number of religious leaders and members of the Sikh community.