Short Briefs: Govt Appointments, Charter Update, Small Business, Melbourne Storm, Gender Equality, Corruption, What Hassan Khan Actually Said on Poverty

Musical Chairs. The New Acting Permanent Secretary for Information is  Sharon Smith-Johns, former CEO of the Telecom subsidiary  Connect Ltd. She replaces LtCol Neumi Leweni who has been moved to the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources. The PS position will be advertised soon. Sharon is the current chair of the Fiji Audio Visual Commission. The on-off moderate anti-Government blog Coupfourpointfive says she was "dumped" from the Connect position, despite her presumed pro-Coup status, amid claims of poor performance. Others said expatriates were being replaced by locals wherever possible. (Photo: FBL)

Third Meeting of National Charter Advisory Council: Update. Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi revealed that 23 ministries and departments had submmitted  reports on their progress towards meeting targets of reforms as required in the draft People's Charter, but four government departments have failed to do so.

The NCAC is currently focusing on three sectors -- Good Governance, Growing the Economy and Social and Cultural issues -- up to 2012. It is tasked to be a watchdog for government to ensure there is real progress on the reforms mapped out in the People's Charter.

The Council Secretariat will now conduct investigations to verify whether departments have actually carried out the work claimed in their reports, and brief the PM on their findings sometime next month. A Monitoring Centre has been established which will grade ministries and departments on their progress. Those graded in the red or amber zone will have to explain to the PM why targets were not met.

Small Business Expo. About 100 small businesss enterprises will display their products and services in Suva's Sukuna Park next Wednesday and Thursday. The Expo is organized by the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterperise Development. Government, in several ways, is supporting small enterprises. These include access to microcredit, technical support for food production, general support to buy local products, and of course support for the small enterprise national centre.

News Limited's Melbourne Storm in Trouble.  Three blog comments: Scandal monger said..."One thing is certain right now about the Fiji Times. The top echelon of its parent, News Limited, will have little time to devote to its problems given the rugby league scandal that has rocked the company this afternoon. The disclosure that the News Limited-owned Melbourne Storm have been deprived of two previous premierships because they paid their players secret amounts above the NRL's salary cap has rocked the whole of Australia. And if you think I'm exaggerating, check out the major Australian news websites. For the sports-mad Aussies to find that the top team in their beloved rugby league got there by cheating is devastating. News Limited is embroiled in a major crisis that will make the prospect of losing the Fiji Times seem like a minor inconvenience."
Proud Fijian said ..."Just saw that - Melbourne Storm's stripped of its title in 2007 and 2009 and cannot accrue points this year. Prize moneys retrieved and fines. Just shows the ethics of these corporations." He was corrected on one important detail by Fair's Fair who pointed out the owners, News Ltd., knew nothing of the deception. He advised Proud Fijian and all readers not to be taken in my biased coverage. "Unfortunately your derogatory, throw away remark will only go to foster the media’s evident belief that we’re all unthinking idiots who will accept whatever they chose to put in front of us."

Corruption in the Post Office. The case against three senior Post Fiji executives heard in the High Court yesterday has been adjourned to June 21. They are charged with aiding and abetting, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud. All have plead not guilty.

FICAC - The Rot Within. Tui Turaga Vunibola, a former officer with the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption [sic!], was found  guilty in the Labasa Magistrates Court yesterday of using $8,000 belonging to the Kavugalei Youth Club, earmarking to start a prawn and piggery business, to renovate his house. He was sentenced to 18 months jail.

Women, Gender Equality and Political Governance
. UNIFEM Pacific is hosting a ten-day workshop in Nadi on Gender Equality in Political Governance. The workshop, from 19-30 April, has participants from Fiji, Niue, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. UNIFEM is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women’s human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.

Poverty: What Hassan Khan Actually Said.
  The media has been quick to pick up the FCOSS CEO's comment that poverty could be as high as 60%, more than Government's estimate of 45%  but it failed to include all he said. Speaking on RadioAustralia's PacificBeat, he said the situation was "serious but not desperate" because of "a number of measures put in place by Government" such as food vouchers, the family assistance programme, and by civil and religious organizations.

He thought there were probably some "pockets of poverty" that help has not reached, but Government and the CSO's were doing "as much as possible to relieve the situation."  The media "omission" would have left many readers thinking the dastardly Government was responsible for the increase in poverty, when in fact it has done more for the poor than any earlier government, and plans (I think, rather unrealistically) to reduce poverty to 15% by 2014. Photo: FijiVillage.


Coups bring prosperity said…
Can someone remind us again what the peoples' charter is? Can the poor indian sugar farmers eat it when their children are hungry?
White Frangipani said…
"Coup bring prosperity" - Go onto the Fiji Sun website and read about the Charter or the Fiji Government website. Why are you so sarcastic and negative? From what I have read lately there is turnaround in attitude happening in Fiji and those who originally opposed the Charter have now changed their mind and are saying sorry and asking for forgiveness. "Coup bring prosperity" you are fighting a losing battle - why don't you go and read the Charter thoroughly with an open mind - you might find yourself changing your attitude too. As for the poor Indian farmers - ask yourself - how did they become so poor - it didn't happen overnight.Why do you bother to read this blog if you don't like what is posted?
Fair's fair said…
I didn't refer to 'your' biased coverage (unless you happen to write under the pseudonym of 'Proud Fijian').

I wrote that we, the reading public, must show that we won't be taken in *by* biased coverage.
Proud Fijian said…
@ Fairs fair

New Ltd being the owner of the Storms should take full responsibility for the current crisis.

Businesses run an internal audit and have systems in place to regulate money and prevent fraud. Breaking the salary cap should appear on the accounts expenditure. If it doesn't then the expenditure has been transferred to another to beat internal auditors.

Even News Ltd Chairman is now saying that they have appointed Deloitte as internal auditors to look into the accounts. What have they been doing for the last 5 years? What policies and procedures did they have to prevent his from happening? As the saying goes “Full me once shame on you, full me twice shame on me”.

Now I can't sit here and accept that News Ltd should not take any responsibility for the results of what’s happened.Ignorance doesn't equate to innocence.

As a side note News Corp in the states recently settled for $500 million out of court a lawsuit by Valassis Communications Inc.
Valassis’ complaint was that News America violated federal antitrust law by coercing consumer packaged-goods companies into buying free-standing insert coupon booklets from it. News America used unfair business tactics to “illegally leverage its market dominance in the in-store advertising and promotions market to harm competition.”

News Corp were being sued for $3 billion.

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