Drought, New Diplomatic Missions, MSG, PSC and Public Entity Reforms, Cane Grower Protest

DROUGHT CONTINUES. Intermittent showers in the Central and Eastern divisions have replenished water sources but the dry spell continues to affect areas in the Western and Northern divisions, and it expected to last for the next few months. Water is being delivered to Rakiraki town dwellers and the Agriculture Department plans to dig more bore holes in the West, the worst affected region. Photo: Fiji Times.

Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola says the "discriminating and isolationist policies" imposed on Fiji by its "traditional allies and some regional organizations international organizations" have forced the "realignment of Fiji’s Foreign Missions to effect revised foreign policy priorities." It is in this context that Cabinet has approved the opening of Missions in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, in 2011.-- Based on 2010 No: 1370/CAB.

. Fiji has temporarily suspended itself from all formal meetings of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has announced. The move is to allow the MSG leaders the necessary breathing space and autonomy to resolve the outstanding issue of the chairmanship.

PUBLIC SERVICE SEEKS UPGRADE. The PSC is about to conduct a major review of minimum qualifications, skills and experience needed for entry and promotion in the public service. PSC Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi says changes in educational qualifications and the need to "recruit and retain the best and brightest" have been the main reasons for the review that is expected to be in place by January next year. Submissions are being sought from all ministries, departments and agencies. -- Based on 2010 No: 1381/PSC.

REORGANIZATION OF PUBLIC ENTITIES. Newly appointed Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises, Elizabeth Powell, said the Ministry is reorganizing a number of public, government, quasi-government and partly-owned government enterprises, commercial statutory authorities and other government entities to improve management, increase efficiency and, where applicable, increase profits.    The areas affected mainly are roads, water supply, and health services.

Two other majority-owned entities, to be monitored by the Public Enterprises Ministry, are the Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited with core roles as managing mahogany forests and processing of mahogany, and Pacific Fishing Company Limited, in association with a joint venture partner with Bumblebee, has core roles in processing and exporting of canned fish both locally and abroad with the USA as the major market.

CANE GROWERS WANT FSC BOARD RESIGNATION. FCGA Secretary Bala Dass has  called for the resignation of the Fiji Sugar Corporation Board, saying its members should be held responsible for problems at the sugar mills and the failure of the mill upgrade. "Things were bad last year and promises were made that the mill would be improved this year with the upgrade program," he said.Former Fiji Labour Party MP Gaffar Ahmed supported the call, saying all the current policies of the FSC Board seemed to be "pro-miller" with growers' interests and concerns left largely unattended. "I'm not the only one that's fed up. Growers from all districts are fed up of the current debacle that calls itself the FSC board." he said.

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Collapsing sugar industry said…
Can the junta appoint a sugar minister that can actually do something about the chaos in the sugar industry? 80 million lost on 'fixing' mills that don't work? We have just gone backwards since Dec 2006.
snoopy said…
The sugar industry was going backwards long before Dec 2006 - the worst thing that happened was the non-renewal of leases under the Qarase govt. THis undermined all confidence in the sugar industry and noone sees a future in the industry. Unfortunately with declining sugar prices the future is not bight for the industry.
Radiolucas said…
Isnt this renewed focus on the PSC and Civil Service all a bit too much like rearranging the deckchairs on the deck of the Titanic?

What is this supposed "government" doing about Fiji's real issues?
M.B.N said…
Yes the sugar industry was in decline well before Dec 2006 but this government has had 4 years to make some progress. No one expected miricle. If production had even grown a tiny 5% a year i would give them credit but they did promise in their original Roadmap on Feb 20 2007 that they would fix the industry and land use issues. That was to have all happened well before 2009. I encourage people to read the original Roadmap - there is a link to it if you scroll down Croz's site on the left hand side of the page.

There is absolutely nothing stopping this government carrying out what ever reform they want. They have total power and no opposition. They could what would normally take a year in one week if

1. They knew what to do

2. If it where serious about it

3. If they had a sugar minister who new something about a) suger b)business and c) finanance. I don't see our PM fitting any of those criteria. When involved with Fiji rugby it was pretty he obvious he knew absolutely nothing about even simple balance sheet.

The PM is no more qualified to be minister for sugar than I am to command the RFMF !
Australia's fault ! said…
I sense we are only days away from the PM blaming Australia and New Zealand for Fiji's sugar performance. He got into the habit and it is so much easier than actually taking responsibility for it.

To be fair though Labour's leader and former minister of finance need to share some blame but he never accepts anything is his fault either.
Is This the Beginning Of The .... said…
Croz what are your thoughts on the resignations of Teleni and Prasad? Is the regime turning on itself or is it simply removing people who were ineffective at their jobs and left Fiji in a worse state than when they started? Or do Teleni and Prasad feel satisfied with their time in office and are moving on to a new career? It all seems very unsettled here in Fiji at the moment and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
All over rover said…
Another coup bites the dust. when is the next one?
Red Dragon said…
@ Is this the beginning of the end....and, Radiolucas...

It is very obvious that those who do not perform with outcomes that are satisfactory to the people who pay them - THE TAXPAYERS - should eventually "fade away" or be asked to resign. If they had been sufficiently analytical (self-analytical) and had used benchmarks to judge performance, it would/might have been evident that the taxpayers were unsatisfied and professionalism was wanting. This is what must be applied to each and every Civil Servant and person paid by public funds. Even Pakistan should apply such benchmarks? It most obviously does not. It refuses to PLAY CRICKET as cricket should be played. That is why we say: "Just not Cricket". All failing or failed states demonstrate such symptoms. Reforms demand change and
if they are SMART REFORMS then people must fall on their swords from time to time. No more jobs for life! THe UK, NZ, and many other developed democracies have had to undergo severe structural reforms. In developing countries this is a matter of sheer survival. We were all fiddling and Fiji burned. We failed to recognise this until it was almost the end. Sugar was failing since before 1990. Nothing intelligent was done about it. Qarase and his huge Cabinet failed also to do anything intelligent or accountable about it. They were too busy being focused elsewhere. How foolish of them, all of them!
Radiolucas said…
@ Red Dragon

I agree with your comments with regard to the Public Service.

As far back as in 2005 - 2006, Stuart Huggett, the PSC at the time initiated changes, including a Commission to review allegations of corruption and a reworking of the entire Public Service according to a 1998 white paper published in the UK.

This included the drastic reduction in size of the PS given the PSC's comments at the time that Fiji's Public Service was the same size of New Zealand's, yet had a fraction of the population.

So I am not sure that the Military Regime can in any way held up as being responsible for the reduction in the size of the PS - he is just returning to a review of the same issues that Qarase was already addressing in 2006.

Perhaps the Military Regime would do better to look at something else - perhaps the reduction in the size of Fiji's standing military force - which is a ridiculous waste of public resources when you consider the size of the armed forces in Fiji's neighbouring nations. Apart from performing military Coups - what are they good for?
Anonymous said…
@ Radiolucas

It is interesting that the name of Stuart Huggett should come up. While not wishing ever to take on individuals when issues, ideas and arguments are what should be confronted, here is someone who completely failed to make the grade. He failed because his self interest was entirely at the fore of everything he did. There was, in my view, no attempt to achieve an acceptable, measurable reform within the civil service which would satisfy those who pay taxes in Fiji. An observation of former PM Thatcher in UK and from afar the NZ reforms under Roger Douglas, one must ask what precisely of use did Stuart Huggett achieve? He also had conflicted, undeclared interests of which some of us are fully aware. In a properly governed country, he might well have faced abuse of office investigations. In lieu of this, he was allowed apparently unfettered leeway, achieving nothing of substance in taxpayers' collective interest. A sorry story of an inappropriate person in the wrong place wholly unprepared to achieve results which were at that time crucial for the national survival of an entire country. Mr Huggett contributed to the unravelling of a country. Someone else, better suited, might well have save it? Now the job must be done again. A costly and time-consuming process. Reforms are essential in a globalised world economy. We all made the Great Mistake and Folly of assuming they were optional.
Anonymous said…
@ Radiolucas

If you fail to fully comprehend that reform of the Civil Service is not a real issue, then you are completely 'at sea'.
Radiolucas said…
@ Anon @ 7:05pm

Personal references have to be made in Fiji politics because of the size of our population - most people know the people concerned and that is what makes all Politics in Fiji "personal" to some extent at least.

Yet your "anonymous" examination of what one civil service review has over a later civil service review, is rather pointless - anything that might have come from the PSC of 2006 could have only been assessed if some form of proper government and open review continued - it did not. We now have no free media. We have a secret government that has made dissent and query a crime against the state.

In any event, how would you quantify measurable reform of the Public Service after the 2006 coup? Every person in a position of power, form the executive to the legislative and judiciary, was removed post 2006. How does that particular elephant factor in?

So the question is never "does the Public Service need reform" - it does. The PSC in 2006 was given the powers to address this. Whether or not they did adequately is something that only a review in a free and open society could do.

The comment: "[Mr Huggett is] A sorry story of an inappropriate person in the wrong place wholly unprepared to achieve results which were at that time crucial for the national survival of an entire country" is a bit churlish when you consider the PSC and it's role in 2006 to date. Further, anyone could rightly ask how a review of the Public Service could so crucial to a country that it may have prevented the 2006 Military coup? That event had little to do with the Public Service. It was and is, a military matter.

Looking back, it is apparent that no amount of due diligence and review of the Public Service could have prevented the Military coup, short of removing the army from the equation entirely. Indeed, in 2006 our Great Leader Himself was under investigation by the PSC and the Police. It has been said that one of the reasons for the coup was the result of ongoing investigations in the Public Service itself.

Taking this further, to blame the Public Service Commission for failing to prevent the military coup is hypocritical. The PSCs job was to consider reform and try to implement reform, which it did. The only thing the PSC did after the coup was to meet to discuss the Coup's legality and we all know how that ended - the trucks of soldiers turn up and people get a short, sharp trip to the barracks - the way that many people who question or criticism the regime have been dealt with since then.

In any event, the Military Regime has accused many, many individuals, from lawyers, public servants, policeman and Politicians of all sorts of crimes and abuse of office - from Qarase to Chaudhry, yet seem to have a impossible task proving anything or substantiating any of their allegations - the crux seems to be that if they like the person: they are good, honest citizens - supporting the military regime; if they don't: they are corrupt and dishonest criminals - examples for the coups justifications.

As another commentator quipped from a South American source: "For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the Law."

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