Law Society Fire, Economy, Food Security & Imports, Sharing Lease Moneys
LAW SOCIETY FIRE. The 2am Wednesday fire that severely damaged the Fiji Law Society office in downtown Suva is not thought to be suspicious.
But ABC's Pacific Beat journalist Pacific Beat's Joanna McCarthy must have raised the possibility of Government complicity for FLS President Dorsami Naidu (photo) to say, "We have our problems with the regime But ... in regards to foul play I can't make any comment at this stage. No purpose would be served when all our powers have been taken over and the regime has taken the files which they require in regards to complaints against our members. So there's nothing really that anyone would have to gain, unless they were just being bloody minded."
On Law Society-Government relations, Naidu says "the law society continues to communicate with the interim Attorney-General, Chief Justice and other judicial officers to try and return to an official capacity within the Fiji judicial system."
CORRECTION. I am advised that the FLS was stripped of its judicial functions following the replacement of the Legal Practitioners Act 1997 by the Legal Practitioners Decree 2009, not as a result of the Abrogation of the Constitution as previously stated. The 1997 Act established and defined the functions of the FLS, not the 1997 Constitution. The FLS never had a constitutional role.
The 2009 Decree transferred the function of issuance of practising certificates and disciplinary proceedings from the FLS to the Chief Registrar. It also set up the Independent Legal Services Commission to hear disciplinary cases against lawyers filed by the Chief Registrar.
BAINIMARAMA ON THE ECONOMY. The PM linked his comments on the economy to foreign interventions and his government's determination to build a strong nation, in line with the changes "enshrined" in the People’s Charter:
“Our reserves position remains healthy at above $1b. However we need to sustain and grow our reserve level by reducing our current account deficit. This mean considerable need to increase our exports, increase food security by growing more local foods and in the process reduce imports and this is nothing new. There have been countries in the region that have in the past years and continue to do so attack our economy in the hope that we will have election. That is not going to happen. We will have elections in 2014, hopefully with all the reforms made.”
FOOD SECURITY AND IMPORTS. Government's Roadmap on agriculture aims to make Fiji less dependent on food imports, bring more land into production and provide money-making opportunities for isolated,rural and mainly subsistence communities. It is hoped that more vibrant rural economies will lessen the migration to towns, especially by young people.
Two recently announced developments are chicken farming in Kadavu that is a direct implementation of the Kadavu Strategic Development Plan 2007–2012 (that also covers roads, jetties and airport developments) in a partnership with Pacific Feeds Limited. The other development is potato farming, mainly in inland areas of the Western Division.
So far 100 tonnes have been harvested with another 200 tonnes ready soon. Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Col. Mason Smith says the local industry will be a major player in import substitution with production levels expected to more than double over the next three years. At that time marketing may become a problem but for now farmers cannot supply enough for the market. The Agriculture Department currently subsidises costs on a 50/50 basis but by year four of the project it will only provide seed potatoes and technical advice.
SHARING LAND LEASE MONEY. The government is looking at a proposal to equally share the distribution of lease money amongst the members of the landowning units if their native land has been leased out. Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, Colonel Pio Tikoduadua said the proposal is to review Regulation 11 of the Native Land Trust Act which deals with leases and licensing of native land. As consultations continue with the stakeholders, the PS said members of the landowning units should be sitting with their chiefs and try to work out the best option for them. They should not think that if the proposal goes ahead, it will lower the rank of the chiefs. -- Based on 2010 No:1647/MOI and 2010 No:1647/MOI.