Fiji Not a Lousy Place to Live, EU Mission Report, Economic Update, IMF Wants VAT Increase, Two Chiefly Forked Paths

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FIJI HIGHER ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX
. With the deluge of recently reported world indices, each of which has shown Fiji to be a lousy place to live, it is pleasing to see the recently released 2010 UNDP Human Development Index report shows Fiji has improved its ranking from 108th out of 169 countries to 86th. The composite index is widely regarded as the most meaningful measure of the quality of life because it takes into account factors such as life expectancy, education, gender equality, income and income equality.  The HDI has been used since 1990 as an alternative or supplementary measure of national development, until then measured solely by economic criteria such as Gross National Product (GNP), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and rates of economic growth.

Norway ranks number one in the world as the best country to live followed by Australia and New Zealand. Countries more comparable to Fiji, and their 2010 ranking, include Jamaica 80, Tonga 85, Maldives 110, Fed.States Micronesia 103, Indonesia 108, South Africa 110, Timor Leste 120, Solomon Is 123, PNG 137. Download the 2010 Report by clicking here.

EU MISSION ENDS VISIT. Last year Fiji lost its status as a fish exporter to the EU after their officials found deficiencies in Fiji's quality inspection authority. The situation is now thought to be rectified and Fiji hopes to again export fish to EU countries. Fiji's Solander Fishing Company has spent heavily on fixing its ships and five have now been classified as A-grade. In 2007, Fiji's total canned and frozen fish exports were worth around $100million, $3m more than the year before. For their overall report click here.

OVERALL ECONOMIC UPDATE. The Reserve Bank has announced that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth projection of 1.8% for 2010 is expected to be revised downwards due largely to declines in the agriculture sector, especially sugar. Weak performances were also experienced in transport, storage & communications, health and social work, real estate and business services and the community, social and the personal services sectors. The only industries that contributed positively through higher export values to this year’s growth so far were tourism, gold, timber and fish. Inflation fell to 1.1 percent in September, a marginal decline from 1.2 percent in August.The 2010 inflation forecast has been revised down to 4.0 percent.

IMF WANTS VAT INCREASE.The International Monetary Fund has recommended that VAT rates be increased in order to contain fiscal deficits and ensure a sustainable level of public debt which, at about 73% of GDP, constrains government's ability to cushion the economy against future shocks. So far Government has refused to increase VAT because it places a disproportionately heavy  burden on the poor who, unlike the better-ff,  have little to no discretionary expenditure.

TUI NAMOSI AND RO TEIMUMU. Former SDL Minister and Namosi high chief Ratu Suliano Matanitobua  says the December 2006 Coup has happened and it is time to move on. He said he has left the events of the past in the past and he knows his people will suffer if  he continues to work against government. He says he has made the decision for the sake of his people. He is calling on his people to support government and help move the country forward.

Ratu Suli's comment, made at last week's Provincial Council meeting, is ambiguous. He is calling for his people to support Government but seems to be doing so only because he thinks that if they don't, they'll miss out on development money. As far as I know there is no instance of this having happened to any province. If accurately reported, one wonders whether his approach is the same as that of Ro Teimumu who also last week welcomed Government's development work in Rewa province but continued to oppose the government in every other way.

Several government initiatives, including the Land Use Decree and the equal distribution of land lease money, will see chiefs, who used to take a bigger share, more than somewhat out of pocket. I wonder how many chiefs are playing liu muri.

Comments

Some suggestions said…
Croz,

What frustrates me is government leaves itself wide open for criticism again and again. Why doesn’t the PM take some very simple steps to show his actions equal his words ? Here is a simple list that would go along way to silencing much of the criticism....

1. Announce a reduction in the size of the military. The PM has asked everyone else to do more with less so why leave the military open to criticism it is a sacred cow and beyond touching. He does not need aggressive targets and could start with something as simple as a 7% reduction in personnel & 10% in costs over the next two years.

2. Announce initiatives to create a more racially diverse military. This could include the ceasing of only addressing troupes in Fijian.

3. Publish annually the remuneration of government ministers (including salary, benefits, and allowances) & and any government employee earning more than $80k. This is common in many countries and would show he is true about being transparent. Show us there is nothing to hide please.

4. All government ministers to declare a register of interests. Like '3' above this is common practice in other countries. It ensures the public there are no hidden conflicts of interest.

5. All military persons who accept appointments to government roles be given the choice of either A) staying in the military but on there current base military salaries or B) resigning from the military and accepting the salary of the new position. Option A would be for true secondments of say 6 to 18months, option B would be for permanent appointments. The military at the momement appear to be having it both ways. This removes the criticism that so many in the military have benefited from the coup.

6. Other good ideas published many times include lifting the PER, publishing the ROADMAP, starting work on ELECTION reform and DIALOGUE earlier than 2012. These are not new ideas but all worth repeating (sorry croz).

The PM has more unchecked power than anyone has ever had in Fiji. He needs to be doing much more to show us he is doing the right thing. There will alway be wild acqisations thrown around but most people will see those for what they are.
reasonable said…
I think it is reasonable to support government in its work programs (like rural programs) and moving toward free and fair elections but at the same time maintaining a stance of not supporting the coup or a military government like we have. Eg accept the reality of the day but not that it was the right cause of action.

One of the problems with current PM is he wants everyone to endorse is decision to overthrow an elected government and endorse him as some sort of legitimate leader. Sorry, I opposed the first three coups and I can't accept this one was right either but i am practical enough to accept the reality of the day.
Budget announcement said…
The new budget anouncement is just around the corner. What would be really refreshing is for the finance minister (PM) who is responsible for the budget to take questions post the anouncement on the budget.

Even prepared questions or approved questions in advance would be a welcom change and give some confidence the finance minister actually understand finance.
Credibility gap said…
This regime has a credibility gap that is widening, not closing. I-taukei know this and are playing Bainimarama of a break. They are getting everything they want - much more than they got unbder the elected leader Qarase.
voing said…
This is thoughful and raises some interesting questions that remain to be answered. What will the new constitution and the new democracy look like ? It scary to think the military might end up with some on going formal role like President or have seats in parliment. The real issue is that if these ideas are put up then 1 year (2012-2013) will not be enough time to debate them. Maybe that is why the military government refuse to publish any real or detailed roadmap and don't want to make any plans public unitl 2012 ?
No support No Money said…
Croz,
Bainimarama quite openly stated in a speech about 2-3 years ago that provinces that did not acknowledge his government would not receive giovernment funding.

I think it was at a Provincial Council Meeting he was opening.

Qarase used the carrots such as the agriculture scam to get provincial support. Frank has more emphasis on the stick.

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