Chiefs, Reforms Before Elections, No FHL Dividend, Sugar, PSA Warning, Rural Development
CHIEFLY SHENANIGANS, an anonymous reader, made this comment to the Ro Teimumu item last week. It's hard hitting but none of the hits are below the belt. The writer is not anti-chief, but he or she does want chiefs to put the interests of their people and the nation first, and not "squandered both their inheritance and the trust and confidence of the Vanua."
For all their posturing in the Vanua, Ro Teimumu and the Qaranivalu are a bloody menace for the country as a whole. These paramount chiefs are a throwback to a not-so-distant past of competing confederacies, jealous rivalries, feudalism and religious and racial bigotry. They act as they feel, with no apparent sense of responsibility for helping to create a vibrant, successful, multiracial, modern nation. Each of them is in trouble for different reasons, Ro Teimumu for masking her political intrigues behind the veil of religious freedom, Ratu Inoke, for a reckless and ( if he's found guilty) perhaps murderous attempt to seize power. Yet they share the same appalling flaw, thoroughly incapable of leading their people beyond the mindset that keeps the i'Taukei prisoners of their past. These two individuals exemplify everything that is wrong with the chiefly system in Fiji today - too many feeble minded and selfish hereditary figures putting their own ambitions and interests before those of their own people and the nation as a whole. It's especially tragic when we think of some of the great chiefly figures of the past, individuals of real accomplishment and mana who commanded the respect of everyone. What a pathetic bunch most of their successors have proved to be, some of the great family names and titles so traduced they're now regarded with general derision and ridicule. These people have squandered both their inheritance and the trust and confidence of the Vanua. Unless the chiefs as a whole wake up to themselves, surely it's only a matter of time before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
REFORMS BEFORE ELECTIONS. PM Bainimarama has again said that his overseas critics -- the Commonwealth, AusNZ -- do not understand or accept that reforms, especially on racial issues and corruption musst come before elections. In the words of the song, "When will they ever learn?" But perhaps they don't want to. Things could be going just as they want them to.
NO DIVIDENDS BY FHL. The Itaukei Affairs Board has advised all provincial council offices to restructure their budget estimates to cater for a decision to withhold Fijian Holdings dividend payments to the 14 provinces.
The dividends will be used instead to pay off the $20m loan made by Government in July. This loan was used to pay off a 1991 interest-free loan from Government that was later, in 2001, converted from a loan into a grant by the Qarase government. This action will not be popular in some circles but it's a clear message that itaukei commercial institutions must be responsible entities, that stand on their own feet. Loan repayments are expected to last the next eight to 10 years.
CANE FARMERS DISPUTE FSC CLAIMS.It's last week's story but the situation described has been fairly typical of all the sugar growing areas for some time. The Fiji Sugar Corporation claims crushing problems at the Labasa mill are fixed. The National Farmers Union and farmers disagree. The NFUsays operations are slow, and local farmers were expecting to suffer a loss this year.
Hirdesh Narayan of Seaqaqa said he was finally able to deliver a truckload of cane yesterday after two weeks. Farmers have been told to stop harvesting until the FSC tells them otherwise. "We are not sure whether to send our labourers home or continue feeding them," he said. He had hired 13 labourers from Qamea at the rate of $10 per tonne and provided them meals at $250 a week in addition to $700 in transport costs. "We are spending money on meals which could have been prevented," he said."The labourers are not cutting cane but getting free food. These expenses are too much for us."
GOVERNMENT WARNS GOVERNMENT. Fancy the Australian or NZ PSA having to remind government departments to register their employees in a compulsory superannuation fund. Wouldn't happen, would it? No department could be so inefficient. But that's what's happening in Fiji. Public Service Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand says that repeated reminders for all ministries and departments to register their employees with the Fiji National Provident Fund had not been acted upon. He has warned them shape up or fines and even jail sentences may follow.
It's not that FNPF contributions have not been deducted from pay packets; the problem is that the NLTB doesn't know who they're from. so there's a “substantial sum of unidentified contributions” in the FNPF Suspense Account. Next week the FNPF will start half-day compulsory training sessions for government desk officers directly involved with appointments and processing of salaries. This is the sort of inefficiency that the PSC and Government are trying to get rid of in order to deliver on its improved infrastructural promises.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT & DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCILLORS. Rural infrastructure development was the focus of discussions among District Advisory Councillors late last week. Director Multi Ethnic Affairs, Sushil Sudhakar, encouraging councillors to work together for a common good. He said the Department had provided financial assistance to 112 community self help-projects in the first half of this year, and the Scholarship Committee has approved 800 new awards. The Director also urged people to utilize the new Nausori Multi-Cultural Centre for which a grant of $20,000 has been allocated. Tailevu District Advisory Council chairman, Mr. Mohammed Altaaf Hussein, said it was high time people started income generating projects, such as backyard gardening and small scale poultry farming, to reduce poverty in the country. People needed to do more to help themselves. -- Based on 2010 No:1413/MOI.
Can anyone tell me more about the District Advisory Councillors? It is a level of dialogue that is not being reported. Who are they? Who and how are they appointed? What is their job? How do they communicate with the people in their district? How is feedback assured?