Institutional Failure, Hurricane Relief, Sugar, US Report, Anti-Corruption Measures

Short Briefs
Institutional failure caused Fiji scams.    Institutional failure played a big role in two of Fiji’s worst scams – the National Bank of Fiji fraud and the Agriculture scam, former judge and workshop facilitator Nazhat Shameem  told a corporate governance workshop in Suva yesterday.

She said the National Bank of Fiji Scam (that cost the country over $220million or 8% of GDP with government raiding the FNPF to make good the financial shortfall)   occurred after the 1987 coup and the multi-million dollar Agricultural Scam (where agricultural equipment was used by the Qarase government to win votes)  occurred after the 2000 coup. In both situations "entities are neutralized ...There are no set procedures and policies ... and this is when the vultures come in.”

Both scams were eventually exposed by the media.  “Government ministries and corporate entities [had forgotten] to ask themselves, what really is their job? “It’s a situation where national interest is mixed up with political influence.” Scams occur when "there is either ... a lack of procedure on how to carry out functions or a failure to monitor and have a surveillance mechanism in place to avoid such scams from occurring at all."
      The illustration shows the cover of the book on the bank scam, available from the USP Bookshop,by Roman Grynberg, Doug Munro and Michael White

Auckland-based Indian station Radio Apna has raised over $132,600 for hurricane relief in a 40-hour Radio–Thon, according to general manager Shaiyaz Mohammed. The money will be transferred into a Fiji-based Punjas Ltd account, suppliers of basic food items to Fiji's hurricane victims, and Shaiyaz will be in Fiji this week to help distribute the produce. Over 2,000 people are expected to receive the relief supplies such as flour, rice, dhal, milk powder, biscuits, onions, potatoes, salt, tin fish, noodles, tea leaves, and washing and bath soap .

This is the second time since 2009 Fiji Flood Radio Apna has done the Radio–Thon. In 2009, the station raised around $200,000 and distributed basic food items to flood victims in Lautoka, Ba, Nadi, and other areas around the Western Division. This time victims are in the Northern and Eastern Divisions.

(+) Sugar. Six thousand hectares of land  will be opened up to new cane this season, as part of a must-do plan to salvage the sugar industry. The new cane is expected to push harvests to 2.6 million tonnes in the 2011 season. The $100m upgrade of three sugar mills is due for completion in May.

US Report inaccurate. The Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has questioned the credibility of the US Department of State 2009 Human Rights Report on Fiji where it talks about the court case in relation to the Fiji Times, saying the  report does not give a true picture and the full story in relation to the case. The A-G also challenged the report's statements on the Spectrum Decree, pointing out that no radio or TV licence had been revoked.

(+) Corruption. The FICAC has received more than 5,756 complaints since its establishment in April 2007.
(+) No more cash payments for Fijian landowners. From April 1st land lease rental money will only be paid into bank accounts or by arrangements with post offices. All money will be paid electronically.  Despite continous reminders, only 13% of landowners have so far opened accounts. This new measure will more efficient and more transparent than the old cash-in-hand method.


Field of delusion said…
In a weak moment, Croz, I've had a look at Michael Field's website to find yet another attack on you and your contributors. This guy really has a problem with anyone who doesn't agree with him. He describes your site as a "toilet" frequented by anonymous racists and other "shadowy" figures. And he launches the most scathing personal attack on you while complaining bitterly about your "attacks" on him. What I find really galling is Field's double standard about practically everything. In his view, nothing positive has happened in Fiji since 2006 yet he resorts to running a sympathetic article on the odious Balu Khan, who he clearly thinks is without blemish despite Justice Madigan's judgement that Khan hatched and financed the plot to assassinate Frank Bainimarama. The only good thing about all this is that Michael Field is now so beyond the pale that everyone can see it. As a polemicist masquerading as a impartial journalist, he was dangerous. But the more emboldened he becomes, the more transparent it is that he's running his own warped agenda and is bereft of credibility and trust. Calling his new book "Swimming with Sharks" really says it all about his attitude to everything. Michael Field sees himself as every man's good guy surrounded by perfidy, danger and threat. Talk about deluded. Strange too that his principle marketing tool is an off the cuff remark by Bainimarama that the likes of Michael Field aren't welcome in Fiji. Isn't this using a "shark" for self promotion? An opportunist to the end. Never mind sharks. The real nightmare is swimming with Michael Field.
Bahut dhanyavaad said…
Good for Radio Apna in doing so much for cyclone victims in Fiji. The amounts raised are up there with donations from the big powers like China. It's terrific that Indo-Fijians living abroad are seen to be assisting Fiji in times of crisis. These acts of friendship will be remembered.
Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? said…
The more Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum bleats publicly about the US Human Rights Report on Fiji the more he draws attention to its contents. The precise details of what it alleges doesn't really matter. The point remains that Fiji does have a human rights problem and nitpicking about one or two minor details erodes the AG's credibility, not that of the US State Department. Another example of the regime not thinking before it speaks.
Porkies all round said…
It's great that Nazhat Shameem has highlighted the Agricultural Scam and the Qarase Government's blatant pork barreling, using taxpayer funds, to buy indigenous votes. You never see this mentioned in the reams of media articles critical of the 2006 coup that portray Qarase as a wronged "democrat". The Australians, in particular, had a blind spot for "Lai", with diplomats like Sue Boyd seemingly seduced by visits to the Qarase compound in Mavana. Anyone who examines the record can easily grasp the truth; that the Qarase government was opportunistic and corrupt, with criminals in its ranks and intent on governing only for the indigenous majority. The paradox is that in fleecing all taxpayers to reinforce its own electoral position, it was ripping off Fijians as well.
kruption said…
It doesn't matter how many complaints ICAC has received but how many it upholds. How many of those 5,756 complaints can be taken seriously? Only a small fraction, I'll bet. We all know how jealous people get in Fiji. A new house? A new car? An overseas holiday? Qori. Must be corrupt. Better call the FICAC hotline. Meaningless.
Anonymous said…

If there is one thing I could confidently say about the Fiji regime, it is that their rule to date has been a graveyard of broken and undelivered promises.

And the industry in which they have been by far the most prolific in breaking or vacating promises, is the sugar industry.

So I don't know why you would bother reporting anything about what the regime plans to do, or says it is going to do, regarding sugar.

You'd be much better off just waiting for the time to come around and then reporting what actually occurred!


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