Sugary Mess, IMF Money, Itaukei Empowerment, CSO Electricity, More Termites

ANONY-MOUSES, PLEASE!  "Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Military Spies in Oz; Media and Blogs. "Please re-post with a pseudonym. Anonymous comments will not be published.

JOKE OF THE WEEK. "Commodore Frank is closely guarded by an elite group of armed body guards [and] travels in an armoured vehicle convoy." -- Dr Mark Hayes, Australian journalism tutor. [Seeing this, a reader wrote: "Why don't you ask when he was last in Fiji?]

MOST "BACKFIRING" HEADING. "Recalcitrant Oink is a Truly Ignorant Cretin."-- anti-Government blog Solivakasama. A not untypical heading that says much about its composer.
                                            
SUGARY MESS: GOVERNMENT PROPS UP SUGAR INDUSTRY. Government is a major shareholder in the sugar industry but instead of reaping dividends, it's been propping up the industry though direct loans and guarantees that enable the FSC to raise other loans that, hopefully, will result in successful restructuring, mill upgrading, and a return to profitability. During the 2010 financial year, ending in May, total losses amounted to $173.4 million, the industry's highest ever.

The loans include a $US50.4m borrowing contract from the EXIM Bank of India, signed in 2005; $22.5m from the Reserve Bank, $44m from FNPF, $19.1m from the Bank of Baroda, $1.4m from the Bank of South Pacific, and a $1.4m bank overdraft from Westpac.

The Corporation made a $8.4m supplementary cane payment during the year funded by term finance from the Sugar Cane Grower’s Fund,the interest costs to be met by Government. Government has also approved a guarantee up to $120 million, valid until 31st May 2012, to enable the Corporation to raise short term loan finance to meet its working capital requirements. Total funding requirements for the 2010 and 2011 financial years ending  in May 2012 are projected to be around $170 million. In the next 12 months the FSC needs to repay debts of over $60 million. -- Based on The Fiji Sugar Corporation Limited  Annual Report for the year ending in May 2010 as reported in Fiji Village.

SUGAR WOES CONTINUE
. Harvesting in Ba and Tavua intended for Baa's Rawawi Mill has been suspended until further notice.Truck drivers are being urged to take the leftover cane to the Penang Mill in Rakiraki or the Lautoka Mill before the cane deteriorates further.

IMF MONEY.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank representatives were in Fiji this week to discuss economic reforms and a possible $1billion IMF loan to boost its economy.

A previous obstacle in accessing the funding was that Fiji was listed as a Tier Three country in human trafficking. Its  rating has now improved to tier two. The IMF has previously noted the improved turnaround in the foreign reserves position and the return of liquidity into the banking system. They also expressed support for the policies put in place and were complimentary on the alignment of monetary and fiscal policy directions. The PM said that "working with IMF and the World Bank would help Fiji tap into a significant pool of global expertise, technical assistance and funding at concessionary rates to undertake the much needed reforms."

ITAUKEI MINISTRY DEVOLUTION AND EMPOWERMENT. The Itaukei Ministry will soon appoint 14 new senior assistant Roko Tui, one for each province, in order to decentralize its work, give Provincial Councils more independence, and improve services. 

Provincial Services Manager, Timoci Namotu, says this will increase staff satisfaction and empowerment, and with more decisions at provincial level, the quicker the response to requests. “HQ will do the corporate plans and the provinces will do their own business and ongoing individual work plans, he said. This will also make Provincial Council offices more responsible and accountable.

He said, “It started in 2007 but it didn’t work out as we expected.  We now get them accustomed to much more empowerment activities and lectures as well so decisions they make are educated ones, not based on emotion but concrete data.” -- Based on 2010 No:1523/MOI.

ELECTRICITY AND CSOs.  The Fiji Electricity Authority will soon increase its charges but FCOSS's (Fiji Council of Social Services) Hassan Khan has recommended to the Commerce Commission that CSO (civil service organization) and school charges should all have a special,lower rate.  Why? Because “Civil society organisations are making huge contribution to the social and economic development of Fiji, particularly in the areas of education and community, welfare through schools and other services [and they generally do so] at a lesser cost in relation to Government and the private sector and often times from voluntary fundraising and from international donor agencies." Less money spent on electricity and telephone bills, he said, and "a lot more poor people could be helped" by the CSOs. He has a point! -- Based on 2010 No:1525/MOI.

TERMITES NOW IN LABASA. The Asian Subterranean termite that has caused tremendous damage in Lautoka have now also been found in Labasa. So far the infestation seems confined to only eight houses in one settlement. A team from the Kadivuka Operation is to being sent to the North to carry out the eradication and awareness programme.

WEEKEND READING. Allen Lockington's column, Micro-Finance Pitfalls, Resolving Resource-Based Conflicts, Saving or Cremating the Sugar Industry, Bloggers Unhelpful, and more. Why not also read the many comments to this week's postings? One post had 27 comments, a record.

Comments

On the side lines in Viti Levu said…
Many supporters of the PER seem to be suggesting it should stay in place because of all the rumor mungering happening on the blogs.

To my mind the PER has done nothing to stop rumor mungering and in fact encourages more people to read blogs. I myself had never really read a blog until the local media was effectively shut down in 2009.

What should the PM and his team do about rumours ?

1. Accept rumors have always been a part of Fiji.

2. Remove the PER and start to allow reasoned debate and criticism in Fiji. The PER creates suspicion from the general public and makes for a lazy government. This government is starting to look like one of the laziest by giving itself so long to do what it promises and never having to answer to any critism. It's not healthy and not good for Fiji.

3. Stop treating us all like idiots. Less spin please and more real information. For example publishing the roadmap (sorry croz - old chestnut but I still think if the government has one and it wants our suport for it the first step is to publish it).

4. Not only inform people but imform us earlier. The blogs often get it right and can break news beause government is so slow. MC being charged was reported on blogs first and police commissioner resiegning (no one believes that) was reported on blogs so government can't complain they never get it right.

5. Spend more time on action and less worrying about critism and how they are portrayed overseas. If it's to "risky" for the PM and President to travel then don't. There is enough to do at home. The PM could certainly spend some more time on his sugar portfolio.

6. Don't respond to rumors with equally ridiculous rubbish for example claiming no anti-government citizens in Fiji are targeted. Of course they are targeted, every one knows that and that is why there are so few names next to any critism. Let real people with real names make reasonable comment and over time rumors will be just that and quickly disguarded.

All of this requires a change of tack for a government that looks more and more military every day.
coup outcomes said…
Croz
As I struggle to see the outcomes of this coup as it has dragged on over the last 4 years, all I can identify is:
1. Much more poverty
2. Reduced foreign investment
3. Fiji increasingly seen as a basket case by the international media, and
4. A destroyed reputation for the Fiji military.
Can you see any other outcomes?
Joe said…
Dr Croz, we know about termites in Labasa, they are everywhere around the globe. What about the termites that are decimating the whole country? How come you differ so much with your fellow academics, eg, Dr Brijlal, Wadan Narsey, just to name a few. Have you been promised a safe seat in the 2014 election, if there ever is going to be one? You may ask me what the alternative is? It certainly is not the 52 page judgement of the appeals court in 24 hrs. It is about transparency. The people who live in Fiji, for God's sake need to know what is going on, and not rely on shortwave radios for the local news.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Joe... Most of the news I publish on this site comes from mainstream media and official news releases in Fiji. Your friends and relatives in Fiji have access to the same sources ... and, as the blog shows, a lot is "going on." My opinion, stated often in the blog, is that Govt needs to involve more civilians, have wider dialogue on political issues, and move faster and more obviously towards elections, but there's no lack of transparency about their general direction. It's in the Charter, the Strategic Framework for Change and the (unpublshed) Roadmap.

As for Brij and Wadan, I think we respect each other's positon, but we choose to differ. That's not uncommon among academics. Something like you and me, I hope, Joe.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Coup outcomes ... I don't see things dragging on, unless by that you mean elections. Most other things are moving on, some slowly, some at remarkable speed. Poverty and investment problems? Yes, due mainly to a sluggish economy, global recession and the hostile position adopted by AustNZ but Govt is also doing a lot for the poor (minimum wages, squatters, low cost housing, school fees, food coupons, etc.) International media? Their informed comments are remarkably few. Few of their journalists know anything about Fiji. Military reputation? Better, I think, than in 1987 or the Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Unit in 2000.

The future is by no means assured, much can still go wrong, and govt has made some serious errors, but as things are moving now, I see a far fairer Fiji in 2014. Hence this blog.
Joe said…
How would you define a squatter Croz? As per Leweni's assertion, people who have a satellite dish on their roofs can't be squatters, hence should be evicted. Basically saying that if you are poor, dont watch pay TV, or may be free to air, as may be the case, depending on the size of dish, LNB configuration and elevation.
Joe said…
Dont you feel lonely amongst your fellow academics Croz? Why would you choose to flog a dead horse? perhaps you are another beneficiary of the PER because the grassroots have been silenced. The silent majority have no access to computers and internet.
miitary rotten to the core said…
The military where involved in the 1987, 2000 and 2006 coups.

Sorry Croz they are responsible for the coup culture.

This why its hard to believe they what to put a end to coups.

The only difference in 2006 was there was no opposition in the Military, at least in 2000 it was only a few behind it.

Then again I guess they all knew how much they would benefit from it.
hope said…
@ keep up the good work croz, many of remain hopeful even though many of the signs are not good.
The pig headedness of the military slows them down yet
at some level they do seem to care.

I hope they start keeping a few promises especially the 2014 one as all
hell will break out if theu don't
no hope said…
@ side lines

Admire your approach bit sadly none of your previous suggestions where adopted. That why most of us don't bother with advice anymore
Coup Outcomes said…
Croz
I have identified two further outcomes of the coup since Dec 5 2006:
5. Repressive censorship and removal of freedom of speech and association, and
6. Increased human rights abuse including summary justice(as recognised and being investigated by the UN and others).
I note your comment re the military. however some proof of a tarnished reputation icludes the UN rejection of Driti and no new use of Fijian military for DPKO. Let's all work on facts as we try and recover Fiji and move it forward?
Joe said…
@Croz
I never doubted that Fijians dont get their news. Being an academic that you are, I am sure you know that ordinary Fijians have access to censored news only via local radio and TV.
"@ Joe... Most of the news I publish on this site comes from mainstream media and official news releases in Fiji. "
That says it all doesn't it Croz?
Joe said…
"Your friends and relatives in Fiji have access to the same sources "

This statement of yours is an indication that you have access to my IP address contrary to your claim otherwise and insisting that posters should be other than anonymous. Deceptive like the current admin in Fiji.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Joe ... I mean your friends and relatives have the same access to the Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Fiji Village, FBC, TV and Ministry of Information releases, etc. This does not require access to anyone's IP address. I do not have yours or anyone else's when they comment on the blog. Please stop frightening others. There are enough false rumour out there already. Don't add to them. Cheers, Croz
Croz Walsh said…
@ Joe ... I forget to add the overseas mainstream media,etc. But you'd know this if you read my blog carefully. Unlike most anti-government blogs, I ackowledge my sources, and they are far more mixed and balanced that any other media you read.
RED DRAGON said…
@ Joe and @ Croz

This exchange takes us all back to the failure and lack of understanding about information, whence it comes, how it comes, how to test it, why it must be tested ALWAYS for veracity and not be a simple propagation of more 'gossip and hearsay'. If there is one thing that the Fiji Media in concert should do and the Pulpits, Mosques and Temples also should do, it is to reinforce the requirement for "DO NOT SPREAD RUMOURS - GOSSIP AND HEARSAY IS HARMFUL TO US ALL and may be DEFAMATORY". Make the distinction between fact and fiction. This would be the greatest service to Fiji and to us all at this particular time. How was World War Two won? By very draconian measures put in place by none other than Sir Winston Churchill - perhaps the greatest wartime leader the world has ever known. He was himself a soldier in the cavalry and had fought in Sudan. The PER are required while sufficient numbers of people refuse to see that spreading lies is a perilous occupation: perilous for them and perilous for their country. Why should that be so difficult to get one's head around?
hot air said…
@ red dragon

Problem is there are just as many lies, half truths, spin and plain propaganda comming from the PM and his military installed government.

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