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.


Anonymous said…
The hardware companies in Fiji are just the tip of an iceberg of corruption and cartel-conduct. The list is never ending. As the rot tumbles out, some of us will begin to wonder if there is anyone honest left? Who is there left to run this country into and beyond 2014? If people are inherently dishonest and self-serving, how are they to be changed? But one thing is sure: it was never going to be done by sheer persuasion. The shadow of force was required. The international community may bleat about this for as long as they choose. And the Fiji Police and the non-government organisations so amply funded by overseas aid (still, the Methodist Church of Fiji and its acolytes have all been part of the problem. Now solutions are required. Lasting and sustainable. No more Australian Consultants sponging on aid provided from their own taxes and converted to their own interest. An overhaul on all levels is required.
goodbye democracy said…
You are correct. Given the widespread and endemic corruption increasingly rampant in Fiji it will be a long time before democracy is restored!
Elections or bust said…
Croz, anything from you or anyone else that implies condoning the postponement of the 2014 elections is grossly irresponsible. We're in enough trouble already without letting the PM get away with such a reprehensible breach of trust. Bainimarama already has a credibility problem over his broken promise to hold elections in 2009. If he does it again. he's finished and so is Fiji.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Elections or bust...

Just three points in reply:
1) The 2009 "promise" was made by Bainimarama at the Forum Tonga meeting after Feleti Sevele (Tonga PM) had persuaded Bainimarama to "come up" with a date for the meeting, assuring him it could be changed later. Those hostile to the Fiji Government made much of this "promise" as if no other PM or Government changes a decision to meet changed circumstances.

2) Bainimarama has repeated on many occasions that elections will be held in 2014. The last time was two weeks ago when he was misreported following his Lau visit. I have covered the story on my blog. His remark were a response to the Smith/McCully comments following the collapse of the MCG meeting. He said "people" (i.e., Lau villagers) wanted his government to say on after 2014. This was taken as Bainimarama saying elections would be delayed and he would stay on as PM. This was yet another example of poor reporting (by the Fiji Sun) and deliberate distortion by the anti-government bloggers and the international media.

3) There will be no elections before 2014. If you want to help Fiji, forget earlier elections and concentrate on keeping Bainimarama on target to 2014. Try to influence positive change within Fiji and external influences which impede this change. The travel bans would be a good starting point. They are preventing able, honest, democratically-minded civilians from joining the civil service and boards, and this is undermining civilian participation in government.
No dissembling Croz said…
Croz, you've failed to address the fundamental point of the last contributor - that an election in Fiji should be held in 2014 as promised. You've not said in response that you support the same demand. So can we can this straight. What will your position be if the 2014 elections are delayed? A straight answer please.
Cornileus said…
Croz, on the Anonymous thing, as a pretty shy sort of bird, it took me a while to suss out just exactly how the sign in process works. There is a subliminal brake which there which inhibits the use of any kind of name.

I started using computers whne the Commodore 64 was a hot machine, and have used computers ever since. I know that I'm not particularly thick, nor particularly bright either, but I think the sign what-knot could be a little intimidating for some given my experience.

Whilst I realise that this comment may seem like Primer 1 stuff to some, there are people about that were not born with a silicon CPU implanted in their vitals.

I have sent a seperate email with a screen shot which you may use (or not) with a suitable explanation in an attempt to reduce the number of rejections due to the rules.
Croz Walsh said…
@ No Dissembling ...I think Bainimarama genuinely intends to hold elections in 2014, and I support this intention. At the moment I can see no reason why the intention cannot become a reality.

I cannot predict the circumstances in 2014 so I cannot give you a definitive answer, but if the circumstances are substantially unchanged, I will be very disappointed if there is no election.

Your question invokes the question of probability and certainty. I am a social scientist and can never predict with certainty. It is only the naive and unsophisticated who believe that anything in human affairs can be predicted with certainty.
Hoisted well and truly said…
Then you are a dissembler, Croz, and a very big disappointment to boot. Frank has promised a lot of people who've joined him in the regime that the 2014 election is set in stone. They took those jobs because they trusted him to keep to that undertaking. It beggars belief that someone like you - albeit a self declared coup apologist - would countenance any deviation from that promise. If your own reaction to breaking it would be "disappointment", then you are very much out of step with many other coup sympathisers. When you promise something "in stone", then you are obliged to deliver. And if you don't, you're a lying, treacherous effing fraud. Shame on you, Croz, for giving the regime any latitude whatsoever to equivocate on such a solemn undertaking.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Hoisted ... You are either being unfair or you do not know the difference between probability and certainty. I am not God to set anything "in stone," and neither is Bainimarama.

Re.2014: Please carefully re-read what I have written in these comments and in my posts on this topic. I want to see elections in 2014 no less than you.
Disgraceful prevaricating said…
It is the Prime Minister himself who has chosen to define holding a 2014 poll as a certainty rather than a probability. Take a look at the Graham Davis interview with him a year ago on Youtube.

"Are you willing to give a cast iron guarantee that you'll hold an election in 2014? YES!

So what's all this crap you are sprouting Croz? If there's no election in 2014, Frank is a a tamani sized liar and deserves the strongest condemnation for a big con on everyone, however much you strive to defend the indefensible.
Proud Fijian said…
We have been Electing people to squander our money after 1987.

Sort our institutions first.

Bit like a ship with mechanical failures. No use employing a captain when the ship needs fixing first.

We will all eventually get a chance to vote people not to squander our money.
sara'ssista said…
The difference may well be that if the elections are postponed, flawed , unfair or not able to withstand public or international scrutiny, then others will be the first to hold this regime accountable , but others here will be he first to produce a excuse , a rationale, and explain away another breach of trust .....i don't doubt they already have a justification at hand for all occasions and will leave it to apologists to wear it blaming everyone else in the region for their failures. Again this regime has form for this.
Anonymous said…
There is a test to be applied to every promise or pronouncement made by governments: will the outcome provide democracy? Full, free and fair democracy which will satisfy the demands and requiremets of citizens, investors, businesses and last but not least, the International Community. One fails to see or even imagine how this might be achieved within Fiji, given the present corrupt state of the nation and the over-weening size of the Civil Service (what has been 'civil' about it?), prior to 2014. It will be a tall order to reach 2014 with sufficient honest, educated, professional people determined to work for the National Good. That's it. Nations do not survive on hot air. What are you going to do for your country? What did you do in the past? These are all valid questions and they demand serious thought.

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