Roads, Loans and Roadmap,Forum & ABC Reporting Bias, Prisons Showcase

(G) PRESIDENT CALLS FOR UNITY. Ratu Epeli used the occasion of the opening of the Ratu Naevo Road in Nadi to call for "unity among the different ethnic groups for a better Fiji for the future." The 320-metre four-lane link road built at a cost to the Town Council of $1.3m will lessen conjestion in Nadi's narrow main street and speed traffic along Queen's Road, the most direct route from the West to the southern coast and Suva.

Stressing its infrastructural importance, Ratu Elepi said "Nadi is one of the fastest growing towns in Fiji and with a sizeable population and hub of tourism activities, infrastructure developments play a very important role." The road is named after the late Ratu Apisai Naevo, a former senator and Nawaka chief. Based on Minfo release.

(o+)  PM THANKS MALAYSIA EXIM BANK
for its US$40m loan for  road upgrading work. The PM was speaking  at the ground breaking ceremony in Nadi yesterday to mark the commencement of a US$40 million road rehabilitation project financed by the Exim Bank. of Malaysia. The two-year project will improve over 100km of Queens and Kings highways.

The PM said the project’s implementation would assist Fiji's still fragile economy as it  recovers from the global financial and economic crisis in addition to three natural disasters. Infrastructure development,  particularly roads, is a major component of the government's Roadmap.

“The poor condition of infrastructure is due to a number of reasons which are well known to all. These include poor maintenance, lack of funding and resources allocation to infrastructure development and our vulnerability to natural disaster. In the last 15 months, we experienced three natural disasters which have made the situation much more worse when $80 million worth of roading infrastructure were damaged.”

He said the Malaysian government was approached for support “taking into account the lack of support from some of our development partners and the limited resources available to government”.

(-) IMPARTIAL, BALANCED REPORTING ABC-STYLE. RadioAustralia's Campbell Cooney interviewed Ministers McCully, Smith, Abel and academics Brij Lal and Stephen Ratuva yesterday on the outcoming of the MCG meeting in Auckland. Fiji Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (or another representative of the Fiji goverment) was not interviewed.

This is a precis of Campbell's  introduction: It is 12 months since the Ministerial Contact Group last met. In that time the interim goverment has scrapped the Constitution, enforced censorship, banned public meetings, arrested church, community and political leaders, devalued its currency by 20%, 40% of all families are estimated to be living in poverty, jobs are down, and the government has applied to the IMF for US$500m to meet its costs.  [Now for the good news![

 (+) LET THE PEOPLE KNOW. Making the public service more efficient and accountable is part of the government's Roadmap.  So also is informing the public of the work of the different ministries. The latest move here is by the Government Information and Referral Centre that this morning hosted the first of a series: a  four-day showcase on the  work of the Prisons and Correction Services.

Prisons Media Officer Fred Elbourne said,  “What we will be showing is our programs in prison our rehabilitative program, our recruitment training, our commercialization, we have people from the fire department we have hapkido experts, we have our emergency unit our dog unit. Our works will be on showcase to show the people how taxpayers’ money is being spent." He urges the public to come out in numbers and support their rehabilitation work for our fellow citizens behind bars.

STATE-CHURCH RELATIONS AND THE GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS. Scroll down to the Na Sala Cava questions on these topics. For earlier topics, click on the link to our companion blog in the left column. New questions will be posted next week.

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