President Visits Lau, R C Manubhai Retaliates, New Company Decree, Two Economic Challenges, Budget Review, Typhoid Update, Fuel Prices Drop
PRESIDENT VISITS LAU GROUP. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, accompanied by the Commissioner Eastern, Colonel Ifereimi Vasu, and government officials, started the visit of Lau yesterday with a traditional welcoming ceremony at Vanuabalavu. He will visit Nayau and Lakeba today, Vanuavatu and Oneata on Thursday, Moce and Kabara on Friday, Fulaga and Vatoa on Saturday, Ono-i-Lau on Sunday and Matuku on Monday. It is his intention to visit all 14 provinces and Rotuma over the next few months.
The next two items show Government is still pursuing the "clean up" campaign it announced prior to taking power in 2006. Widespread, endemic corruption makes a poor bedmate for democracy.
HARDWARE SAGA. Recent news about the hardware industry should raise few eyebrows. One large company was implicated in the Agricultural Scam that had the ousted Qarase government buying agricultural equipment for village distribution in order to win votes. Two weeks back the Commerce Commission started enquiries into alleged pricing collusion between the larger companies, and just before the weekend a member of the Commission was beaten up and threatened not to proceed against the companies.
R C Manubhai is now threatening legal action against the Commerce Commission, challenging the validity of the court orders it obtained to search the hardware company files for information.
Illegal practises are so ingrained into the Fiji government and business scene, it's going to take a long time to root it out.
A NEW COMPANY DECREE and a simplified tax regime will soon be introduced for greater accountability, the PM told the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress held in Sigatoka over the weekend. The new Decree will bring issues such as director and trustee responsibilities, accountabilities and obligations into line with industry best practices. The PM said government is determined to stop individuals from hiding behind the corporate veil or archaic laws, aided and abetted by their lawyers and accountants. Many public practitioners go to great lengths to please their clients and try to avoid paying tax at all costs, as well as developing more than cozy relationships with decision-makers to subvert well established rules and laws.The Prime Minister said accountants have a responsibility to the public at large and must keep themselves and their clients honest.
RESERVE BANK GOVERNOR ON CHALLENGES. Reserve Bank Governor Sada Reddy said the biggest challenge facing the government is how they can raise investment and exports in the country. Speaking to the members of the Fiji Institute of Accountants, Reddy said Fiji needs to raise investment to over 25% from its current level of 13%.Fiji also needs to improve infrastructure to facilitate economic growth so tht it can compete with countries have low cost structures and high productivity. Government's total contingent liabilities stood at $1.7 billion in 2009 which is far too high. Government must stop guaranteeing loans for institutions which become a liabilities to the State.
GOVERNMENT REVIEWS 2010 BUDGET. The review is a normal process undertaken by governments, especially when unforeseen events occur. In Fiji's case the review is considered prudent because it demonstrates the "transparent financial management of national finances" and because the Budget did not take into account the devastation left by cyclones Tomas and Mick that will cost at least an additional $30 million and the termite campaign another $5 million.
VACCINATION PROGRAMME IN NAVOSA COMPLETE. With some 5,470 peopled now vaccinated, the health team will now move on to the Northern Division where cases have been reported, and then to Rakiraki and Naitasiri. Monitoring in Navosa will continue. Australia provided $1million for the campaign, which was used to purchase 60,000 typhoid vaccines and syringes.
FUEL PRICES DROP. The price of petrol will drop from F$2.24 to F$2.16 a litre tomorrow. This is approximately NZ$1.60, cheaper than we're buying petrol in New Zealand. Diesel and kerosene prices fell 4 cents.