Transparency, Land, Sugar, Abuse of Office, Rinakama, Methodists, Biosecurity
Brief ShortsPhoto: filipspagnoli
(+) Transparency lacking. Speaking at the corporate governance workshop on Monday, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said he is worried about the way decisions are being made in some corporations because those decisions do not illustrate transparency.“I have noticed decisions being made before positions are advertised or before expressions of interests are called for service." People, he said, talk about good governance but do not understand the real meaning of the word or apply it in their lives. The need for transparency and good governance was amply indicated in yesterday's post on the National Bank of Fiji and Agricultural scams, and is further illustrated by the following four stories. Getting rid of abuse of office and the "culture of corruption" is part of the government Roadmap.
(+) Land a political football. Landowners who failed to plant sugarcane on land they took back from mainly Indo-Fijian tenants now owe the Native Land Trust Board $3.6million in lease arrears. NLTB general manager Alipate Qetaki explained that rental payments were to come from cane payments made to NLTB by the Fiji Sugar Corporation through the Master Award. "When there are no cane proceeds due to non-cultivation or insufficient cane proceeds, NLTB rent is not paid.
The Committee of Better Utilisation of Land was looking into unproductive cane farms and land, and Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki said landowners were being urged to lease land out to salvage the sugar industry when they were not using it themselves. He said most land was idle in the Western Division and could be put to good use if diverted for use for the sugar industry. The extent of unused land due to the non-renewal of leases to mainly Indo-Fijian tenants, from which no one benefits, is an indictment of the racially divisive practices pursued by some former NTLB administrators and politicans.
(+) FSC chairman Gautam Ramswarup is also urging farmers to use land lying fallow and plant new cane to help salvage the sugar industry, saying that production in recent years had declined to levels that threatened the very existence of the Fiji Sugar Corporation. Some 6,000 hectares of land are available for cultivation, which if used, would produce a sugar cane harvest in 2011 of 2.6 million tonnes, up one-quarter of a million tonnes from average production in the past three years. If land is made available, the replanting programme now underway could take production to 4 million tonnes by 2014. Land under production is not the only problem facing the sugar industry but it is certainly one of them.
(+) Abuse of Office? Former Commissioner Central Inoke Devo, charged with abuse of office, admitted in court today that he had authorized his staff to collect alcohol from various outlets and night clubs for their social function and an election workshop using the official government vehicle. He claimed, however, that some items were paid for and others voluntarily donated.
(+) Audit Discrepancies? The Land Transport Authority CEO Etuate Koroi has been sent on leave while certain allegations made against him are being investigated following an internal audit raised a number of discrepancies.
(-) Rinakama situation still unclear. One of my readers says he say Rinakama in Marks Street last Saturday but another reader close to government said he tried to get information about Rinakama but "got a wall of silence. I am not sure what happened, or what the situation is now."
It is not sufficient, as two of my readers have said, to forgot Rinakama and move on because one person said he's alive and well. Why have others not confirmed this story? Why no word from the man himself? Someone is not telling the truth. Who is it?
(o) Methodist Church leaders meeting with PM Bainimarama today produced nothing new. Annual Conferences and monthly circuit meetings will not be allowed until 2014. They were told today's meeting attended by 130 church leaders is where they should discuss issues about the church and their members. The situation is unlikely to change until the church replace ministers known for their extreme ethno-nationalist position and governmnent is convinced the church is apolitical. One rather unkind wit described the church as the SDL party at prayer.
(o) Suva harbour biosecurity officers found a giant African snail in in-bound cargo recently. The snail which can grow to 30cm and weigh 1kg is one of world's most destructive pests of fruits and vegetables and a host to the lung worm parasite which can cause meningitis in humans. The snail, now found in many Pacific Islands, is an hermaphrodite and prolific breeder capable of laying 1,200 eggs per year. The incident highlights the importance of Pacific-wide co-operation, presently undermined by PI Forum and other regional sanctions.