Qarase's Pension Restored, Cybernet Terrorism, Women's Centres, Govt Borrowing, Govt & Media: PINA Says Keep Door Open

(+) ONE STEP BACK, THREE STEPS FORWARD. The PM's 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.]

. 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.

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.

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.


Capricious dictatorship said…
Well, well, obviously it pays to make fulsome apologies to the regime no matter how much you're on the nose. In the case of Rambo, he learnt the hard way that never having to say sorry isn't the Fijian way. A couple of cobos, a tabua and a mea culpa and everything can be made right with the world again. Very touching. So Rabuka's got his parliamentary pension back. I wonder if they'll give him back the Pajero they seized when they made him walk a hour back to the village from his teitei? If the PM thinks the nation will be impressed by this backflip, forget it. What it shows is how capricious this regime can be. One moment, a barked order from Frank and his opponents are stripped of their legal entitlements. The next, Frank orders their restoration, maybe in the warm inner glow of a Sunday sermon on the virtues of forgiveness and a pleasant lunch at home with Mary and the kids. This is no way to run a country, that's for sure.
A sour taste from sugar said…
Anyone with money in the FNPF ought to be highly alarmed by this story, our hard earned life savings being used to prop up an industry in its death throes. Sugar sure ain't sweet as an investment right now so why hand over more than $40-million of our super to prop it up? This is a classic case of good money chasing after bad. You could argue that it's OK for the Reserve Bank to use taxpayer funds to try to breathe life into an industry on which so many Fiji citizens depend. But why the FNPF? Why can't all that money we're relying on for our retirements be put into blue chip investments that produce maximum, secure returns? Sure, you can argue that investing in national infrastructure is a legitimate use of the FNPF. But the record shows that the crooks invariably get their fingers in the cooky jar and it's us poor workers who miss out. None of us want to see the sugar industry go down but you can see from its losses that the FSC is a basket case. World sugar prices are down and we've lost our preferential access to certain markets because we can't work out our political differences properly. Wouldn't it be better to start putting public money into programs to wean all those poor buggers in the west off the sugar teat once and for all? After the Natadola fiasco, we older folks know this is another car crash waiting to happen. We can sense it in our bones.
Son of Fiji said…
NNNNOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo....... Its not like these old hacks deserved the money anyway. They've held their positions of power & influence, and got more than enough to put away in the FNPF. They helped put our country into this level of debt that we have, and we're still paying for them??? Come on Frank, please re-think this one.

Regarding SUGAR - knowledge is too beautiful a thing to waste. I think it would be great if a lot of the arm-chair farmer critics we have in the country would actually find out about the price of sugar before they go frothing at the mouth expressing some politicians opinion. The fact is Sugar prices have been trending upward - and while they are off the historical all time high prices set in January this year, they are still trading near the previous record high prices that were set in 2006. There is a future in Agriculture, and this includes sugar. FSC does need a big broom-stick, but the potential is still there.

I just read about MH's on fijivillage.... gotta have a big LOL to that one. The shopping public have known for years what a disgrace this supermarket chain is. Maybe they can pull up their socks after this, but I doubt it.
sara'ssista said…
perhaps the international media is making the point that just as this self appointed junta leaners can arbitrarily do away with lawful entitlements without any redress, he can do that to anyone, without redress. I do recall this regime making broad statements about this happening to ANY critics of the regime. So why would there need to be distinction?
Guess who's coming to lunch? said…
Croz, take a look at this story in today's Fiji Sun and then think about the odd nature of the relationships around the lunch table up at the camp. First and foremost is Bainimarama and Rabuka. Frank is obviously trying to bury the hatchet with Rambo, who he always suspected of having having been part of the plot to kill him in the mutiny of 2000. This lunch evidently took place the day after Frank reversed his decision to cancel the parliamentary pensions of Rabuka and other former PMs. Did the timing have anything to do with the fact that they'd have to display at least a veneer of civility in front of their former commander, Brigadier Thorpe? And then there's the irony of Rabuka also being at the same table as President Nailatikau, who he overthrew as military commander in the coup of 1987. Nailatikau was in Australia at the time and was totally humiliated. It's all very intriguing but maybe the clearest sign of all of how fluid relationships can be in the Fijian hierarchy. One thing is certain. You've got to hand it to Thorpe in being able to bring together such a disparate bunch of characters. He obviously had huge mana as commander himself back in the early 80s.
Four former Republic of Fiji Military Force commanders and the incumbent hosted a special guest to lunch at the Officers' Mess in Nabua yesterday.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Minister for Defence Ratu Epeli Ganilau and Paul Manueli accompanied Prime Minister and military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to the lunch.

They hosted former RFMF commander and New Zealander, Brigadier Ian Thorpe to a lunch at the military officers' mess.

“It was a lunch to host him as he was visiting,” Mr Rabuka said.

According to records, Brigadier Thorpe was contracted to the then Royal Fiji Military Force as its commander from 1979 to 1982.

Following his retirement from the New Zealand Army, the Fiji government invited him to establish the Fiji Military Forces Officers' School after foreign military assistance was cut off soon after the first coup in 1987, records stated.
Anonymous said…
Qarases pension is still being stopped on the pretext that he was not entitled to one.

TheMax said…
You volunteer to enter politics so politicians do not deserve to have a pension when they are out of office. Why? Because in politics, you lie, cheat, murder and do all sorts of bullshit to get
Pica Kamillo said…
UPDATE: from FijiVillage.

"Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, Colonel Pio Tikoduadua has already confirmed to Fijivillage News that former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase will not be receiving the pension as he has not been receiving it since December 2006.

Tikoduadua said the decision is based on the issue that Qarase was not entitled to the pension in the first place."

Roy said…
I am keen to see whether it would be acceptable if the situation were to be reversed, whilst i could care less if any of them get pensions, i am keen to see if the standard that is going to be applied where you can stop anyone allowances pensions hobs etc because you can without redress to a court. If this is the standard that is to be applied , i can see this rearing it's head when the next coup maker has a turn.

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