Missing Dollars, Corporate Governance, Suspicious Transactions, Solomon Logic, Squatters, MicroFinance

THE HALF-MILLION DOLLARS. Predictably, the anti-bloggers saw the Police statements that the $½ million were stolen overseas and some notes were circulating in Fiji as a police -- and therefore a Government -- cover-up. So,  if you believe this, there's not much point reading on.  The latest from the Police is that they now know where the theft occurred and now some notes entered the country and is being distributed. No further information is being revealed at this stage because it could compromise investigations.

Former Fiji High Court judge Nazhat Shameem (photo), now an independent consultant, has again drawn attention to corporate governance issues. Speaking at the Pacific Countries Ports Association Conference in Suva on Monday, Shameem said many corporate bodies do not adhere to their own procedures and rules, scoffing at them as red-tape. Corporate governance, she said, is about trust and honesty and treating other people’s assets with responsibility and care, adding that “greater observance of corporate governance principles and values in Fiji might have spared us the National Bank crisis, the Agricultural scam and the Housing Authority fraud.”

SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS. The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit reports  that suspicious transactions increased to $26 million last year, up from $10m in 2008. A suspicious transaction is a transaction or attempted transaction which a financial institution has reasonable grounds to suspect may be related money-laundering or other serious offence.

THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON.  following a logic remarkably similar to the Bainimarama government that sees infrastructural reforms as necessary for nation-building and national unity, Solomon Island PM Danny Philip, says that without considering traditional landownership issues, large-scale developments in the Solomons will not be sustainable.  This is because land reforms are needed to give resource owners an incentive to support state institutions.

“We were under the impression and assumption," he said,  that economic development will unite Solomon Islands society and give national cohesion. It didn’t work that way. So [we] have to go back and rediscover ourselves.”

In Fiji, the "engineered" misperception of vast inequalities of wealth along ethnic lines (viewed by Fijians as: Rich Indians, poor Fijians, and by Indo-Fijians as:  Hard-working Indians, lazy Fijians) was what helped to produce the divisive politics of ethnic-based parties, mistrust, misunderstanding and the 1987 and 2000 coups. In fact, it was only the averages that were different.  There were  -- and are -- very poor people of all races.

This is why the first phase of Government's Roadmap is focusing on material improvements, most especially in remote rural areas.  Improved race relations is the only bedrock on which genuine democracy can flourish in Fiji.

 HELP FOR SQUATTERS ON STATE LAND. The anti-government blogs made good mileage out of Land Minister Neumi Leweni's statement that squatters on state land would be evicted, and I also had problems reconciling the statement with governments anti-poverty measures. No previous government has ever evicted large numbers of squatters without making some provision for alternative locations. It was reassuring, therefore, to read yesterday's announcement by Lands Minister Netani Sukanaivalu that squatters living on state land at Vatuwaqa, where there two large squatter settlements, will be relocated with government assistance.

He said a big development project will be carried out soon from Laucala Bay to Wailea in Vatuwaqa where many squatters are residing and this is why they need to relocate those living on government land. Sukanaivalu says they have started development work at Jittu Estate and will be working soon on land occupied by squatters in Wailea and Muanivatu.

What is not clear from the announcement is whether the development work at Wailea and Muanivatu makes any provision for low-cost or self-help housing. Does anyone know what the "big development project" entails?

.The South Pacific Business Development Foundation that began in Samoa ten years ago will open its doors in Fiji next week. The SPBDF is perhaps the region's most successful microfinance organization having already lent almost $US13 million to 12,000 families in Samoa and Tonga where it started operations last year. Founder Greg Casagrande said the organisation is expanding rapidly.“We will get to six or seven thousand clients in Tonga in short order, whereas Fiji we could easily reach 20,000 clients in the next few years.” The organization aims to "make a significant difference to the lives of poor Pacific Islanders.

For more detailed information click here. For elaboration on the terms microfinance and microcapital, follow the link at the foot of this article or go direct to http://www.microcapital.org  Thanks, R-d.


Fluffy Stuff said…
Thanks for the 'fluffy stuff' but we can get enough of that on the 'free' media in Fiji. This fluffy feel good stuff is meaningless if the sugar industry collapses. Where is the sugar minister? Where are the priorities? Now that the going is getting tough, and blaming others is falling on deaf ears, the bluster has fallen silent. What is this regime going to do about the chaos Fiji has fallen into over the last 4 years. Fluffy stuff is not going to feed people or take Fiji anywhere!
Proud Fijian said…
Just saw a picture of the $20 note with the serial number starting with EB. The note was apparently presented by an Australian tourist who had received the note from Currency Exchange in Sydney.
Question Mark said…
FLP Website

Can someone explain to me how the FLP has broken the rules of the Media Decree? I can understand it has broken PER, but not how it has broken the media Decree and Sharon, in her letter, clearly talks about contravening the Media Industry Decree.

Some might take the view that what they are publishing is not in the Public interest. But I thought that decision was made by the Media Authority and not by the Ministry of Information.

Can anyone shed some light on this please?
SOE said…
@ fluffy stuff

There is nothing 'fluffy' about the failure of business and institutions in Fiji to apply proper governance practices and procedures. It has led to near disaster. Politicians, lawyers, insurance brokers, chairpersons of multiple boards, some noteworthy bankers and the signal failure to recognise a conflict of interest when it occurs - or, to sail on regardless without transparency is evident every day in business dealings in Fiji. It can seem that there is simply no integrity at any level. So, suspicion and mistrust reign. Sadly,a failure of justified suspicion leads many more business owners to the slaughter. This has led to a climate in which conducting legitimate business is constant struggle if near impossible. One might add that Fasther Barr should offer himself as an attached employee for six months to find out at first hand just how difficult the situation now is. If jobs are to be retained, then the entire business arena must be elevated quickly to a legitimate and honest field of operation where trust is restored and progress may be made without dishonest demands for a 'quid pro quo', or, worse 'nothing doing' and shutters down because bribes are expected or political expediency have crept in. With an actual drought now in evidence, such a failure of proper corporate governance will ring the death knell of small to medium businesses: the backbone of any nation. The situation is becoming critical.
Tonto said…

President Barack Obama has paid heed to the plight of small to medium-sized businesses. He seems to understand how vital they are to any economy. Once they are lost, they will not come back - anytime soon. His efforts now mid-term to assist small to medium businesses are useful to watch. They are adaptable. We need to pay attention and without delay.

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