Qarase's Pension Restored, Cybernet Terrorism, Women's Centres, Govt Borrowing, Govt & Media: PINA Says Keep Door Open
announcement that pension payments will resume for former parliamentary leaders and other outspoken critics is the sort of forward-looking conciliatory acts we need to see more of. Among those affected by the December Pensions Decree were former prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the leader of the 1987 coups, former Prime Minister Sitiiveni Rabuka.
The pension stopped was not the FNPF pension to which all members contribute, but pension entitlements under the Parliamentary Retirement Allowances Decree 1989, the Prime Minister's Pensions Act 1994, the Judges Remuneration and Emoluments Act and the Pensions Act. This important distinction has never made clear by the international media who left the public thinking that Fiji's "John and Jane Citizen" had been reprived of pensions to which they had contributed for the whole of theire working lives. So much, once again, for the impartiality of the media!
CYBER TERRORISM WRITES: "Croz, I think it's terrific that you've finally done what other blog owners routinely do and that is to approve every comment before it's posted. I used to admire you for upholding the principle of freedom of speech in giving people direct and unfettered access. But this freedom has been totally abused by a small minority and the recent cyber attacks make it impossible to continue with your previous practice. Sad that it's come to this but that's life on the internet - an information highway dotted with intellectual thugs and technical vandals."
Another reader, Cyber Bores, said "Maybe we can have cyber floggings in which adolescent minded cyber vandals receive fatal doses of radiation from their screens." [To make the fullest use of this blogsite, read Comments by clicking on "comment" at the the end of each post. They add information, argument and sometimes humour.]
(+) WOMEN'S FEDERATION CENTRES. Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation head, Dr Jiko Luveni, says government will set up six centres, two in each Division, to help "pull women out of poverty and enable them to realize their potential in national and economic development." The centres will be run by the Fiji Womens' Federation to ensure all Government resources directed towards women empowerment are well coordinated without any duplication. The first centre at Tacirua outside Suva will open soon.
(o-) WARNINGS ON FSC AND GOVERNMENT BORROWING. The Fiji Sugar Corporation has borrowed $86.9m locally in the last nine months, over half from the Fiji National Provident Fund at 9-10%, $22.5m from the Reserve Bank at 7-8%, and $19m from the Bank of Baroda at 8-9%, $1.4m from the Bank of South Pacific at 8.3%.Offshore borrowings was $4.2m million from the EXIM Bank of India. Total borrowings stood at $91.1 million. FSC lost $8.3m in the three months ending in February.
The Asia Development Bank and the IMF are looking for ways to assist but futher loans will depend on the success of Government's structural reforms to improve the economy. Fiji's current total debt is about 53% of GDP, which is above theshold of sustainability that international agencies prefer to loan against. The ADB has adopted a"wait and see" approach while talks continue.
GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA. Newly appointed Acting Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns says her job is to improve communication between the interim regime and the media. She says she wants to open up the channels of communication, by making ministers and civil servants more available to the media.
“It has been difficult. The government is always willing to talk to the media. There has been some irresponsible reporting in the past, and we all know that, we recognise that, both sides. But I think moving forward, we can’t spend too much time looking at the past, what is past is past, it is moving forward, it is forming relationships, it is understanding from both sides.” She says government does not want to gag the media, and the media decree, when it is implemented, will ensure balanced reporting.
(+) MEDIA DECREE AND PINA. Pacific Islands New Association President Moses Stevens says he has received assurances that changes were being made to the decree in areas such as the proposed penalties for for journalists deemed to have breeched the legislation.
He said it was important dialogue with the government was kept open: “If we had a closed door between us and the government, then we would be left out of the process and I think that door should be open, the government must understand where we are coming from and we will understand them and maybe we will work together at getting the people ready for 2014.” PINA says it would like to help train members of the interim government in Fiji on understanding the role of the media.