Premature Statement on Electoral Reform, Chiefs are Not the People, Squatters Praise Government, Mission Abuses of Office
A VOTE BEFORE TIME. I'm not sure on whose authority Strategic Framework for Change Coordinator Lote Raboila has announced that voting will not be compulsory for the 2014 elections. He says people will be given the choice whether to vote or not to vote according to Pillar One of the People's Charter. Pillar One makes no specific reference to compulsory or voluntary voting. But, more importantly, I wonder what this has to do with the SFC Office?
Isn't it up to the people who will be involved in the electoral reform process to make recommendations on all matters of electoral reform? Government may give "advance notice" of what it would like, but their views should not be stated as facts before the event.
ALL PROVINCES NOW SUPPORT CHARTER. The Permanent Secretary PM's Office Col. Pio Tikoduadua, reports that Government now has the support of the 14 provinces in the country. He says even though some chiefs have yet to show their support, they have received assurances and encouragement throughout the 14 provinces. Great. But ...
But the chiefs and provincial council are not the people, though they invariably speak for them, and neither do they represent the non-ethnic Fijian population that don't quite fit into the provincial system. I understand the Rotuma districts have already expressed support for the Charter.
Does anyone know what Government envisages for the future of the separate and parallel system of ethnic Fijian administration, organized through tikina, provinces and divisions, come 2014? And whether this will be open to discussion as per Pillar One of the Charter before then? My understanding is that the roles of all ethnic Fijian institutions were to be reviewed. This would include: the Great Council of Chiefs, the Native Land Trust Board, the Fijian Affairs Board, the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and Provincial Development, the Business Development initiatives such as Yasana Holdings and the Vanua Development Corporation and, of course, the Provincial Councils. Some have already been reviewed but an overview of what has been done, and what remains to be done, and by whom, would be most useful.
Any volunteer to write about this, or provide the necessary information so that someone else can write it up?
SQUATTERS PRAISE GOVERNMENT. Semiti Qalowasa, Director of the People's Concerned Network, a grassroots NGO which aims to provide squatters with a legal piece of land and better housing, says the current government is the only government that truly cares about the plight of the less fortunate.
He was speaking at the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Lagilagi Housing Pilot Project at the Jittu Squatter Settlement that will see 162 families rehoused. For years, he said, they have struggled to have the voices of squatters heard but past governments were full of false promises. The Lagilagi Housing Project will see the construction of three double-storey complexes with two bedrooms, with a single storey one bedroom complex put aside for the elderly and those receiving Assistance from the Social Welfare Ministry.
The Project comprises a partnership between the 162 families and the PCN, whereby the families pay half the cost of the construction of their home, with the other half funded by the German Catholic funding group Misereor, and the Fiji Government. The land on which the houses will be built will be owned communally.
PUBLIC FUNDS ARE NOT PRIVATE FUNDS. Major fiscal discrepancies in some of Fiji's foreign missions still need addressing, and the heads of the missions need to be held accountable. Take, for example, the mission in PNG where $62,761 of public funds were used to pay the HighCom's son's fees for Saint Joseph's Nudgee College in Brisbane. The HighCom paid back $12,000 but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ceased all the recoveries without any explanation when he was recalled in March 2009. Or the personal phone calls and other extravagant expenditure totalling $11,929 at the Tokyo mission.
These and other discrepancies came to light following the proper assessment of the Auditor General's Report for 2007 by the Public Accounts Committee. PSC Permanent Secretary, Parmesh Chand is seeking explanations before decided what further action should be taken.