Ticks for Key, Sevele, Bainimarama; AI & IMF Reports; Import Substitution; Corruption - Again

(o) A TICK FOR JOHN KEY. NZ has relaxed its ban on Fiji government personnel by allowing Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to attend a meeting today with the PI Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) comprising the prime ministers of Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The group will prepare a report on progress towards democracy in Fiji to be put to the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in August.  Fiji is attending thanks to an invitation, agreed to by other Ministers, from meeting chairman and Tongan PM Feleti Sevele.

(+) ... AND ONE FOR BAINIMARAMA. The PM gave villagers in Lau his mobile phone number and told them to contact him if they are not getting service from any government department. This must be a first for any PM anywhere.

(-)THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2010
uses the present continuous verb tense (-ing) to describe Fiji's transgressions when the past tense(-ed) would generally have been more appropriate.  You can't continuously suspend a constitution or dismiss a judiciary?

Fiji, it reported, is  "witnessing ongoing human rights violations and impunity; with the military-led Government suspending the constitution; dismissing the judiciary; imposing emergency regulations to stifle media dissent; and implementing a policing policy that granted impunity to those who perpetrated domestic violence." What policing policy?

The report, however, did broaden its usual definition of justice to include "being able to go to school, to have access to clean water and to obtain decent health care... the rights that we need to live our lives in dignity.” These shortcomings are apparently evident in other Melanesian countries.

New Zealand also came in for some criticism about "discrimination of Maori by the Foreshore and Seabed Act, risks posed to asylum-seekers due to the new Immigration Act, and the privatisation of prisons." I didn't know we had yet privatised our prisons. AI does a lot of good worldwide, but the latest report shows a lack of balance towards Fiji. It under-estimates the task of providing basic services in PNG, Solomon and Vanuatu. All of which suggests that for its Pacific investigations, it is overly reliant on some urban, Western-funded NGOs for  information.

(o-) IMF "SUGGESTIONS" FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY  include reducing the Government's wage bill; trimming subsidies to vulnerable groups by increasing transparency and accountability and better targetting assistance; eliminating tax holidays, streamlining tax incentives and improving tax administration; and by raising taxes on luxury goods and petroleum. Similar measures have been adopted in many countries since the onset of the Global recession. How they are implemented is as important as the measures themselves.

(o) RESERVE BANK AND IMPORT SUBSTITION. A Reserve Bank five-year and 6% loan facility aimed at encouring domestic agricultural production and reducing the country's imports payments will see $20m lent to commercial growers of produce in which Fiji is not self-sufficient, namely, fruit, vegetables, root crops, dairy produce and beef production. Pork, canned meat and chicken producers,items in which Fiji is self-sufficient, will not be able to access the funds.

(+) LAUTOKA City Council chief executive officer Pusp Raj is on leave pending investigations by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

(+) FICAC. The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption has been given permission to adjourn the trial of one of its former officers Marica Rokotavaga who is charged with 37 counts of Forgery, Uttering Forged Document and Obtaining Money by False Pretence for allegedly using more than $15,000. The adjournment was granted pending possible charges against other officers.

STATE-CHURCH RELATIONS AND THE GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS. Scroll down to new Na Sala Cava questions on these topics. For earlier topics, click on the link to our companion blog in the side bar.

Comments

Key mistake said…
Doubtless the looming MSG meeting in Fiji will have been weighing somewhat heavily in the minds of the the Kiwis and their Aussie mates. What do you do if after all the sanctions and travel bans, nothing has changed in Fiji? And on the contrary, your stand is weakening and fragmenting the one regional organisation you dominate? Oh dear. Maybe we need to find a way out of this mess. What a shame they couldn't see the writing on the wall before. Fiji's position has consistently been that if the Forum doesn't want it as a member, it will look for support elsewhere. And where better than among your traditional Melanesian friends and the new chum and patron, China? For Fiji, getting to host the biggest players in the region outside Oz and NZ at the MSG summit in July only underlines the fact that the boot is now on the other foot. Did John Key really have any choice but to have Ratu Inoke come calling?
Pathetic Aussies and Kiwis said…
Aussie Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has been saying tonight that the situation in Fiji is deteriorating, with no sign of an early return to democracy. Then in the same breath, he announces that the Forum foreign ministers are to go on a fact finding tour to Fiji. This is presumably at the invitation of the regime or it wouldn't be happening. What does this all say? That the Aussies and Kiwis will continue to talk tough while trying to reach an accommodation with the regime. Why are we not surprised when the words of the Aussies and Kiwis don't match their actions? Because when it comes to a desperate need to save face, they're up there with the bloody Chinese.
Backflip with pike said…
Whichever way you look at this, the Aussies and the Kiwis have backed down. At first, they weren't interested in accepting Frank's invitation to visit Fiji to examine the situation for themselves. Now, Stephen Smith and Murray McCully with join their island counterparts in doing exactly what they said they wouldn't do. If that's not a backflip I don't know what is. Of course, the media toadies who call themselves Pacific correspondents will never portray it as such. Why? Because they've got as much egg on their own faces as the politicians. It'll be an interesting visit but I don't think it'll change anything. For the Forum to accept Frank's election timetable now will be just too bitter a pill to swallow.
The Tide IS Turning said…
Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is a good choice for interim Foreign Minister in the struggling regime. Unlike people such as khaiyum he has credibility with his Pacific neighbours. Ratu Inkoke is a patriot with a sound history of support for his people and is a part of Fiji's future. We need a few more like him to ensure the real clean up of Fiji, once and for all, takes place. Well done RATU Inoke.
sara'ssista said…
i really don't think anyone in Aus and Nz spend any time sitting up at night worrying about them not being invited to Fiji so they can be fleeced for any money this illegal regime can get, with the whining 'oh poor me from a devoping nation' you have had plenty of time to develop... and you have squandered it .perhaps china or burma will accept you as a 'self automous province'.

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