(o+) How to Kickstart the Economy: Government Needs to Set in Motion, and Sell, a Credible Process

Several people responded to Rajendra Prasad's account of his Fiji trip. One, signing himself Tears of Tedium, thought Rajendra's reflections  a "once-over-lightly approach to the Fiji economy."

"Talk to anyone in the business community," he said, " and they'll tell you new investment is zero. That, coupled with the dismal outlook for sugar, continuing EU sanctions, cyclone fallout, etc. ought to be ringing loud alarm bells. Cheap airfares aren't going to save the country either, only destroy Air Pacific as a viable carrier." 

I replied: "I'd be pleased to hear ... what advice you'd give to local and overseas protagonists ... what, realistically, do you advise to 'take Fiji forward'?"

He did not comment on the role of overseas protagonists, and thinks Government is the only local protagonist (I think him wrong but we may define protagonists differently. Stakeholders would have been a better word) but this is how he responded on what Government can do.

In my opinion, it is wise, informed advice given by someone who knows business; basically agrees with what Government says it is trying to do, but who thinks they could be making a far better job of it. And I agree.  Here is what he said:

Well, Croz, my advice to the local protagonists (and what other protagonist is there, realistically, apart from the regime?) is to move a lot quicker on two vital fronts. Because until it does, international confidence in Fiji will continue to be adversely affected.

The first is to begin the process of electoral reform that will demonstrate, in a practical sense, that Fiji really is committed to holding elections in 2014. Had this process already started, perhaps the EU might have reinstated its aid. We were told there'd be a national forum in January to map the way forward for a return to democracy. What's happened? As far as I can see, nothing. Can't find a chairman? Try harder.

The second is to address the chronic lack of discipline, strategic planning and, especially, lack of basic communication, that characterises the regime. It's simply not doing enough to get a positive message across to the international community. Whether or not it's governing effectively isn't enough. It needs to be seen to be governing effectively and working towards the restoration of democracy. As far as I can see, there's no concerted effort to address this woeful shortcoming, even with the regional media.

Let's take, as an example, the regime's treatment of the Methodist Church. It wonders why the rest of the world sees this simply as a case of religious persecution. But it doesn't do a jot to explain the stand-off more fully and present the evidence we all know is there of the church's pernicious influence in national life.

Even your own correspondents have demonstrated contempt for the notion of an effective PR campaign to explain the regime's case. But then have the gall to constantly complain about the failings of the regional media when they (inevitably) embrace the message of the regime's vociferous and smarter opponents. The evidence is undeniable. Be willing to join the battle or be prepared for defeat, as a matter of course, in the court of public opinion.

Bainimarama and the Military Council seem to think that it's enough to be demonstrating to the country that government is being conducted more transparently and effectively. We know that compared to the last government, that is pretty much the case. But what the international community sees is a military dictatorship with no mandate other than the gun whacking its opponents around the head while promising to relinquish the reins of power in four year's time. Promises, promises.

Set in motion a transparent and credible process to deliver on those promises and you've gone some way to meeting the concerns of your critics. Then go out and sell that process vigorously (by opening up the country to selected media, among other things) and you've got some hope of regenerating investor confidence. Do nothing and the country continues to stagnate. Don't take my word for it. Talk to senior members of the business community in Fiji. The overwhelming sentiment is: "there's nothing happening" and "these guys have no idea".

And that's a disaster for Fiji.


Free Fiji Now said…
It has just been confirmed that the Fiji junta (and sadly Fiji athletes) will NOT be going to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. This, like the EU decision to extend sanctions, and all other sanctions being applied to this illegal regime is an EXCELLENT decision.
This divisive human rights abusing regime, this devastating coup, has brought nothing but misery and economic collapse to Fiji.
Even Chaudry - who initially supported this pariah military coup - is now realising the high cost of this foolish decision:

"A political and union leader in Fiji says cane farmers are angry their latest payment is less than half what they were expecting.
The leader of the Fiji Labour Party and general secretary of National Farmers Union, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the payment of two US dollars and 61 cents per tonne, is far below the six dollars and 22 cents that was expected.
Mr Chaudhry says the poor performance is a result of frequent breakdowns at the mills, which led to wasted cane, with much of the juice not being converted into sugar.
He says its the first time the Fiji Sugar Corporation has failed to make its forecast payment, and they are considering seeking compensation for farmers.
“The possibility is being looked at at the moment, but the industry institutions on which farmers had a voice they have all been disbanded by the interim regime. So farmers actually are without a voice at the moment in the industry, which again is a matter of concern because technically they have a 70 percent stake in the industry.”
Mahendra Chaudhry says the 180 million dollars in aid from the European Union, which the industry lost through ongoing sanctions would have been a godsend for sugar farmers."
How foolish are these coup perpetrators and supporters? They play the race card when it suits them - yet their racist, cultural and religous attacks seem ok in their warped minds - but they squeal like mynah birds and speared mongoos when they get their own back.
Fiji has NO HOPE under this terrible regime controlling by the gun and fear. It MUST BE REMOVED. Fiji MUST return to democracy ASAP- if it doesn't - it will be a slow and painful death - one way or another, this terrible dictatorship will be crushed - no matter how long it takes!!! The free world will see to that.
Schizophrenia rules ok said…
The divided, divisive personality that is Mahendra Chaudry talks about cane farmers being without a voice when they have a 70% stake in the industry. While he was serving with such gusto in the IG he conveniently forgot that the Fiji public has (or had) the right to a 100% stake in its government.

If there is just ONE thing the IG has to get right, it must be to ensure that the schizoid with full pockets and a selectively short memory never gets a chance to stand for political office again.
Kumala Vula said…
Below is just one example reported in the Fiji Times of the tough lifes faced by innocent Fijians in addition to living under tight military control over their lives and freedom as citizens.

All this while Frank and his treasonous lot have all moved to plush residences in the Domain area of Suva. So much for promising not to profit from their rule. Lies and more lies are the hallmark of the illegal rule of the current regime in Fiji.

The solution is clear- get rid of the treasonous regime and return Fiji to democratic rule so Fiji can have support from outside countries.

No wonder, Rajendra Prasad gave a one-eyed account of his visit to Fiji. How can he get the true picture on the ground when things are so tightly controlled and concealed from the eyes of the outside world? Why else have they blocked access to pro democracy blog sites? They are so paranoid and afraid of outside scrutiny.

REWA Dairy has asked for a 60 to 80 per cent increase in the price of butter and powdered milk, off the back of escalating dairy product prices in the world market.

Rewa Dairy Corporative Limited chief executive Ratu Savenaca Seniloli confirmed asking the Prices and Incomes Board for a significant increase in butter and milk retail prices.

The company made two PIB submissions, one in November last year and another in February. The increment being looked at is between 60 and 80 per cent of the current price.

Ratu Savenaca said he met Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama last week and informed him of losses faced by the company because of rising import costs of raw materials.

He said the prices of most imported dairy products were up 60 per cent.
This, he said, reflected in the price of raw butter imported by the company which was processed to Rewa Butter.

"Currently we are landing imported butter at $7 a kilogram. After we add our secret ingredients, packaging, we are selling butter to the local market at $5.88," said Mr Seniloli.
Lialia alert said…
Oi lei, it must be leave pass day at St Giles. It seems from the above that the SDL loonies have got off the bus and managed to get away from their handlers. What a crock of veka! No point in responding to much of this because we've heard at all before. But it's the blatant lies masquerading as reasoned comment that get me. So, white kumala, the military hierarchy have moved into the choicest houses in the Domain? Bollocks. in fact, dozens of government houses have been put on the executive rental market ( after swift renovations ) as a revenue raising exercise. It's also established truth that Bainimarama declined to move into the official PM's residence so it too could be let. Talk about SDL propaganda. Now just calm down, fellas, and get back on the bus. You'll soon be back in the wards where lovely nurse Isiteri will give you your medication. God spare us from these 24 carat nutters!
Me Damu said…

Kumala Vula does makes some valid points. The greatest obstacle confronting the illegal regime in Fiji is the lack of genuine desire and commitment to actually return Fiji to democracy. They have tasted power and it has gone to their head. Why would they want to hastily return something that is bringing them prosperity, status and adulation?

2014 is a mere date plucked out of the air during one of Frank's hallucinating moments from which he tends to rely for inspiration.

Mark my word, 2014 will come and go, or as he has already said, withdraw but keep an eye from the sideline. That is not what Fiji needs nor want other than a long and deserved retirement for him and his apologists inside a prison cell. The likes of Lialia Alert can then visit him there to pay him homage and further massage Frank's bloated ego.

All the signs are there for a long attempt to consolidate power in the hands of the military. But it will fail like elsewhere as dictatorships never last. All the regime's actions are contrary towards forging a path to democracy. The only way is for them to be booted out the same way they forced their way on the innocent people of Fiji.

The economy requires an environment of political stability that is genuine and well founded, not one that is built on pretense and lies. The people of Fiji are losing out from the silly and dumb policies and misrule of the regime. The sooner they relinquish power the better it will be for Fiji and its people.

If Lialia Alert takes notice, even the SDL party recognise that and if they obtain the mandate of the people again good on them. At least they will again have the democratic mandate of the people unlike the current regime and their sympathizers.
No, no, no said…
A democratic mandate for what? To continue the racist, corrupt policies of the previous government? No way. You guys only hanker for your return to power and privilege. You can't accept that it was your own greed and overt racism that brought this calamity upon you. Wear it and get over it. You're never coming back. And if there's even a remote chance of it happening, then let's forget about an election in 2014. I'm happy for Frank to be president for life than see the fraud from Mavana and his thugs back in power. I hope I've made myself clear. Happy Easter.
SDL vomir said…
Croz, it seems you are under cyber attack from the propaganda arm of the SDL. True to form, they've used the eve of the holiday season to mount their offensive. Classic blitzkrieg tactics. They sugar coat their arguments with reason but the underlying message is always the same; hold an election now, let the SDL win and everything will be sweet. Forget about too many Easter eggs. This is more than enough to make anyone sick.
Me Damu said…
No, No, No must be a close relative of either Frank or Idi Amin who can hurl allegations around, grab power at the point of a gun like cowards, and expect people to tow the line to their illegal rule.

No successful prosecution has yet been achieved by the illegal regime no matter how trumped up the charges as we all know they are.

You must have the same gene pool as Frank and other dictators who will all meet their just and deserved end.. the prison cell. Mark my word.

Have a good easter No. No if you even believe in it as your puppet master Frank don't seem to have much regard for anything religious.
Oti vakadua said…
Me Damu and Kumala Vula, you can dream on all you like but the SDL, Qarase and all their spivs and lackeys are finished.
No Commonwealth games for junta said…
@Oti vakadua
Dream on Ramsheet
Do you mean finished like no EU subsidies to the sruggling sugar farmers or finished like the illegal junta NOT GOING TO THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES IN DELHI???
Now these are certainties - whereas the war against the anti-democratic anti-christian spivs and lackeys terrorists in Fiji is a long way from over.
Watch the cassava patch running and squeeling when the guns are turned.
Easter bunnies said…
Really, who cares about the Commonwealth Games? The way these guys talk, you'd think the regime's future depends on it. All the effort and money that goes into this is best directed elsewhere right now. So get over it. All these viavialevu suddenly cropping up here is creepy. But it's good to know, Croz, that your opponents can't stay away from your site even if they don't like the content. Masochists to the last.
Delhi Belly said…
All this wittering about not being able to attend the Commonwealth Games… Hats off to the IG, which has done a great job this time round ensuring that taxpayer funds won’t be wasted on this quadrennial parade of substandard athleticism. Millions get spent preparing and sending athletes to international events and the same tired old excuses when no one gets to the finals are trotted out afterwards.

Modern sport gives quality Fiji athletes the chance to do well individually without draping themselves in the national flag. League and Union contracts, athletics scholarships etc are there for the taking – all funded by overseas clubs and countries. Amateur athletes good enough will make the grade as professionals in whatever sport they chose. Those that aren’t good enough - look for alternative employment and play your sport at weekends. As for the couch potatoes complaining about no games for Fiji, use the opportunity to stop watching tv and try some exercise around the seawall.
Arhythmia said…
No Commonwealth Games for Fiji? Finally, we’re getting to see the sort of excellent PR skills that we’ve been calling for from the government.

Now, when the Games are on and Frank shoots over there for another check up at the same time, no one will be able to accuse him of a indulging in a junket. It’ll be a dead straight medical visit.
Commonwealth capers said…
Really, Fiji's exclusion from the Commonwealth isn't to Fiji's detriment so much as the detriment to the Commonwealth itself. And before you start laughing, hear me out. The Commonwealth is a loose association of nations with supposedly shared values whose strength derides solely from the participation of its members. There's no financial incentive to belong and for a county like Fiji, with established international links, no real cause to be worried about being excluded. Some Commonwealth members, like Pakistan, Nigeria and Rwanda ( not even a former British colonial outpost so go figure ) have far more questionable human rights records than Fiji. So why were we excluded? Because Australia and NZ used their diplomatic muscle to freeze us out. In forcing the Commonwealth to suspend us, they were prepared to weaken the organisation to score a political point while turning a blind eye to blatant human rights abuses among other fellow members. What does that say about the Commonwealth? That it's essentially weak, easily manipulated and riddled with hypocrisy and double standards. In fact, you could mount an argument that Fiji ought to stay out of the Commonwealth until it cleans up its own act. And that doesn't even take into account what comedian Groucho Marx once famously said about not wanting to belong to a club that would have him as a member. No, let the Commonwealth come to us when they realise how silly they look accepting a country that massacred 800,000 of its citizens ( Rwanda ) but can't tolerate a place like Fiji that is temporarily suspending democracy for a higher cause of eliminating racism from national life.
word capers said…
And that should read "whose strength DERIVES solely from the participating of its members". Derision I reserve for the SDL.

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