NZ-Solomons-Fiji, Wages, China, Media, Economy, Health
PACER PLUS WEB LINKS. Apologies to readers were unable to access the links I thought I'd provided on 21 August. Click http://www.aidwatch.org.au/publications/pacer-plus-resources here to access.
again said NZ will "help the Fiji interim regime restore democracy" with personnel or financial assistance. This is great news except that the "restoration" cannot be to the former very imperfect democracy that some would claim was racism in disguise.
The PM also wants the Bainimarama government to "engage with all the relevant stakeholders in Fiji, including other political parties." Re-engage to restore democracy with race-based political parties?
“My government," he said, " has tried to reach out and offer the hand of friendship to Fiji. We want to see democracy restored there and we are working very aggressively to make that happen.”
John, you must know you are asking the impossible. In fact, you're playing the same cracked record Helen Clarke first played in 2007. We need a new label and a new tune.
However, NZ's recent support to include Fiji in Pacer Plus talks and the reduced travel ban now only for "regime members and their immediate family" might, just might, be the start of something new. But who, exactly, are the regime members? Does the definition still includes career civil servants, the judiciary, members of quasi-government and statutory boards, and members of the USP Council?
SOLOMONS AND NZ ON FIJI. New PM Danny Philip restated that what Fiji does is Fiji’s own business. “We are going to make a practical, candid relationship with Fiji on the matter. We are going to embrace Fiji, we are going to talk with Fiji, to have consultations with Fiji.”
His comment followed his meeting with NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully who in turn said his three visits to Fiji this year were a sign of engagement with the Fijian administration in Suva. [1. On your marks. 2. Get Set. 3.No Go.]
GARMENT WAGES. The Wage Council has been unable to decide on proposed base wage rates for the garment factory workers as the employers’ representatives were "not available" Chairman Fr Kevin Barr hopes that the appointment of new Council members by Government will make a ruling possible by the end of the year. Fr Barr acknowledged the need for businesses to remain competitive in a difficult business environment but said the Council will "not allow employers to pay workers extremely low wages."
CHINESE INVESTMENT. Minister for Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that 14 representatives from two Chinese companies have come forward with proposals ranging from setting up a cement factory, slipway facilities, investing in Agriculture, Port facilities as well as hardware opportunities and education, as a result of the Shanghai Expo and the PM's recent visit to China.
GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA. Government recognizes that the media plays an integral role in ensuring good governance and sustainable development says Information Permanent Secretary Sharon Smith Johns. But this means "a responsible and non-partisan press prepared to look at all points of view, not reflecting the personal agendas and prejudices of journalists and media organizations. She pointed in particular to what she calls a ‘hostile media campaign’ against Fiji by a number of Australian media organizations saying they lacked an understanding of the progresses the country has made so far.
ECONOMIC GROWTH TOO LITTLE. Economist Dr Mahendra Reddy said Fiji's projected 1.7% growth rate is short of the benchmark, and should be growing by 6-7% annually. For the past 20 years the economy has been growing marginally by 1-2% and last year it contracted by 2.2%. He expected growth to improve with the growth of Fiji's trading partners but pointed to the need to improve internal factors. It is hoped Government measures will improve confidence and investment to ensure growth.
HIV/AIDS CASES INCREASING.The number of positive cases of HIV AIDS in Fiji is increasing. The Head of Department of the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV, Dr Litia Narube says that unless the country introduces the compulsory testing of pregnant mothers, or their partners, then the trend in Fiji will be as bad as that in PNG where one adult in three could be infected within the next 20 years. Where cases are detected among pregnant mothers, they are given drugs from 7 months into pregnancy until one week after birth. The WHO recommends drugs from 3 months into pregnancy but Fiji does not have the resources.
WHY TOO MANY FIJIANS DIE YOUNG. Fiji has an inactive and lazy population says Fiji College of General Practitioners President Dr Ram Raju. Statistics show that more than 80% of the population die from Non-Communicable Diseases. Approximately 18% are diabetics, 19% are hypertensive and 81% are overweight.Only 16% of the population is aged over 50 years. This means that men and women in their prime working life are dying too early as a result of NCD’s. Dr Raju says our population appears very lazy and NCD’s are preventable if people exercise regularly, eat the right food, stay fit and lead an active life.