Some Legal Backlog, Brij Over Troubled Waters, NLTB WakeUp, Transport Charges

That's the number called by Chief Registrar Ana Rokomokoti who said 350 of the 600 complaints were unresolved cases inherited from the Fiji Law Society. She said out of the 398 lawyers with practising licences, 136 had one or two complaints against them. In some cases the complaints went as far back as the 1990s. Public expectation was high and the challenge to her Unit was to clear the backlog as soon as possible.

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Talking of public service reforms. I got a real shock this morning to read that Dr Brij Lal is the new permanent secretary for education. Surely not. Could it really be that the Girmit prince of the ANU had done an about face and joined his enemies in the regime? I wondered why no-one was making a fuss about it until I learned that there's another Dr Brij Lal in Fiji. This one has been in charge of all the country's primary schools and gained a doctorate from the University of Ireland. Fwhew! But talk about confusing!

Another of the public service appointments is interesting - that of Elizabeth Powell as the new permanent head of public enterprises, tourism and communications. She comes from one of Fiji's oldest and most respected kailoma families and is seriously smart. Many will remember her as once the face of Air Pacific when she was chief stewardess in the 1970s. But she went on to pursue an academic and business career in the US and has high level degrees in tourism from the University of Hawaii plus an MBA and a lot of corporate experience.Ms Powell came back to Fiji 18 months ago after living in Las Vegas, of all places, for several years.

Another good appointment and a further sign that Frank is determined to get the best people he can on the public payroll, irrespective of race. There's no way people like Ms Powell or Peter Thomson at the UN would have been chosen by the miserable SDL, nor would they have wanted the jobs anyway. Vinaka.

NLTB DIRECTED TO SPEED UP DEVELOPMENT. Following his tour  of the Northern Division last week, the PM has met with Native Land Trust Board officials to express  his concern at the questionable state of the Board’s services in the North.  The NLTB has been directed to speed-up development in the country by:
  1. Reducing lease processing time to two months; 
  2. Giving special consideration (not having to pay an upfront premium) to landowners who wish to lease their own land.
  3. Revising methods of payment to ease financial burden to lessors, especially cane farmers; 
  4. Presenting a plan to its Minister on how and when it will reduce its 15% administrative fee.
The PM repeated his assurance that the Native Lands Commission will not be reviewed except where issues needing clarification on traditional land boundaries and chiefly title disputes.

(+) CHARGES MUST MATCH WHAT PEOPLE CAN PAY. In response to people in Vanua Levu complaining that their land transport costs were too high, the PM has directed the Land Transport Authority to re-examine, and if possible lower, their charges to what rural people can pay. These people, the PM said,“do not work in a bank or a city. They are farmers and this is what the authority should take into consideration,”

He added the directive was not only to the LTA but to all State chief executive officers that they should get out of their office and visit places to ensure that the right services were being delivered. "I will make sure this is done so that members of the public receive affordable services," he said.  People in the Northern Division found applications especially costly because they had to be authorised by people in Suva. He had directed the LTA to deploy an officer to the outer islands to make processing easier.

. Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau CEO Annie Rogers and general manager Tupou Raturaga have been sent on leave during the State audit and will return to work on June 28th. This is a normal procedure which has no sinister implications as anti-government bloggers would have us believe.

. Consumer Council has welcomed Government’s decision to take away some of the regulatory powers of the Fiji Electricity Authority following complaints by the general public to the Consumer Council regarding unlicensed electrical operators around the country.


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