2023-2024 National Budget | Sabha hopes for aid to boost religious tourism

The Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji National President Dhirendra Nand (left), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Agni Deo Singh and Patron Vinod Patel light a Diya to officially open the 61st National Sanatan Convention in Ba. Picture: REINAL CHAND

While many organisations are seeking socio-economic relief in the 2023-2024 National Budget, country’s largest Hindu faith-based organisation hopes the State will assist in its efforts to go green and boost religious tourism.

The Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji (Sanatan Fiji) national president Dhirendra Nand said they also hoped the Government would assist in other areas.

“Our budget submission concentrates on climate mitigation projects like installation of solar panels in all our temples, construction of gas crematoriums in various centres so our followers can stop relying on mangroves (dogo) and planting of mangroves to promote environmental friendliness,” he said.

Mr Nand said Sanatan Fiji was developing a religious curriculum for Sanatan schools.

“We need assistance with administration costs to implement this curriculum in practice.

“In addition to that, we believe that the Government will assist in paying the faith-based teachers in school.

“Our new management has pledged to promote wellness for women in our society.

“A Women’s Wellness and Counselling Centre has been proposed for this year’s budget submission.

“If this budget is approved, we believe we will be able to assist thousands of women through counselling and wellness activities. This centre is planned for the Central, Western and Northern divisions.”

Mr Nand said they would also like to see subsidies given for creation of retirement villages and the promotion of religious tourism.

“So that we can globally market our prominent places of worship like the Nagigi Naag Mandir in Vanua Levu and creation of meditation and yoga centres in places like Nakauvadra mountain range which is linked to our culture and religion and other sacred religious places of pilgrimage in Fiji.

“Sanatan Fiji thanked the Coalition Government for providing a platform to the faith-based organisation to submit their budget proposals.”

Mr Nand said Sanatan Fiji had provided service to the country for 65 years and he hoped the Coalition Government would take its submission into consideration.

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