National Language Misunderstanding, Dual Citizenship, Sugar Debts Detailed
WHAT'S IN A WORD?
GOVERNMENT AGAIN CREATES MISUNDERSTANDING.The Government announcement that it is considering a national language for Fiji (most probably Bauan Fijian) has been misunderstood -- and no wonder. It did not clarify what it meant by a national language.
Today's press release from the Rev. Akuila Yabaki of the Citizen's Constitutional Forum provides an example. The CCF calls on Government "to respect multiculturalism and diversity [and] not to declare one particular language as the national language for Fiji, as this would be detrimental to Fiji’s image as a multicultural nation with diverse identities."
The cause of the misunderstanding will be immediately seen when considering Singapore which has four official languages -- Malay, Mandarin, English and Tamil-- and one national language -- Malay: the language of the original inhabitants. Fiji at present has three official languages -- Fijian, Hindi and English -- but no national language. To make Fijian the national language, therefore, would in no way detract from the existing official languages, but it would show a special respect for the language of the original inhabitants. New Zealand has three official languages -- English, Maori and NZ Sign.
BAUAN FIJIAN? Readers will note that I have referred to Bauan Fiji. When the first Europeans arrived in Fiji there were over 300 "communalects" or dialects, many unintelligible to other itaukei with whom they commonly shared no more than 60% cognates on a standard word list; roughly the same as Dutch and German or Portuguese and Spanish. Linguists grouped the communalects into two major and 27 minor groupings, 12 in the west of Viti Levu and 15 in the east of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Lomaiviti and Lau. Bauan became the official itaukei Fijian language thanks to British colonialism and the military prowess of Bauan chief Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau (painting). Many dialects are now extinct or close to extinction and spoken only by old people. A strong case could be made for the revival of the more robust communalects because as language is lost so also are much of the history and culture of its speakers.
The CCF supported the recent move by government to name all Fiji citizens as ‘Fijians.’
-- Based on Paul Geraghty in Walsh, Crosbie: Fiji: an Encyclopaedic Atlas 2006:388-389.
DUAL CITIZENSHIP. Some 1054 people applied for dual citizenship in the year ending July and 857 applications were approved.The dual citizenship status was granted under the Citizenship Decree which came into effect in April 2009. The Decree allows for any child, spouse and former Fiji citizen to apply for citizenship by registration and also allows foreigners who are working, investing or residing in Fiji for the last ten years to apply for Fiji citizenship by naturalization.
The Decree was introduced to allow those that have left Fiji to return and re-invest in the country.Many of those whose applications were granted have invested in property, farming and tourism developments.
SUGAR DEBTS SPELT OUT. The Fiji Sugar Corporation needs to pay one third of its total borrowings over $60million in the next 12 months. This was announced in its audited financials for the year ending May 31, 2010.
According to the report, the FSC has total borrowings of over $180m from the Export Import Bank of India ($84m), the Fiji National Provident Fund ($44m), the Reserve Bank of Fiji ($22.5m), Sugar Cane Growers Fund ($8m), Bank of Baroda ($19m), Bank of South Pacific ($1.4m), Westpac Bank (overdraft $1.4m).
The EXIM Bank loan was signed in November 2007 for the upgrade of mills, repayments to be made twice a year over a 10-year period. A grace period or moratorium for two years was granted but this was extended to three years, which means repayments start after the end of November. The RBF loan, which was through the purchase of FSC bonds, incurs an interest rate of 7 to 8 per cent to be paid bi-annually and to be paid in full by 2014, the report said. “The loan from the FNPF of $29.3m and borrowings by way of promissory notes of $4.73m are subject to interest at the rate of 12% and 10% per annum respectively and are payable by 31 May, 2011, and 9 October 2010, respectively,” the report said. “During the year, default interest was charged by FNPF for seven days due to delay in rollover of the loan. These borrowings are secured by the government guarantee.
Bonds worth $10m were also bought by the FNPF with the interest rate of 7%to be paid twice a year and repaid by November 5, 2014.The BoB loan (through promissory notes) incurs an interest rate of 8.5-9% per cent per annum repayable by November 11 this year while the borrowing from BSP is to be paid by next month.
All the borrowings were secured through government guarantee.