Legacy of Corruption, Bankers and Consumers, Lifting Part of PER, Wainivesi Mine Worth Millions
WEEKEND READING. ♦ Allen Lockinton Column ♦ People's Charter, For Discussion: Pillar 3 and Chapt 8 State of the Nation paper ♦ The CCF's Suggested Way Forward
The court case concluding yesterday that saw Suncourt Hardware director (and former Suva mayor) Dhansukh Lal Bhika and Principal Accounts Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture Suliasi Sorovakatini sentenced to 5 years and 4½ years was the latest in this sick story that had earlier implicated the SDL Minister of Agriculture Apisai Tora and many others in what came to be know as the Agricultural scam.
Some $20 million of taxpayers' money —set aside for the Farming Assistance Scheme aimed at helping ordinary ethnic Fijians (itaukei)— were skimmed off to provide equipment and labour for the farms of the Fiji elite. The Minister, for example, had diggers and tractors prepare his land at Sabeto costing some $25,000. The Assistant Minister Marieta Rigamoto was given farming implements and chemicals worth around $15,000 for her farm in Navua. Boats and engines, hoes, caneknives and fertilisers were supplied to villagers for political gain. Some $50,000 worth of equipment went to Baulevu where Tora told the villagers this had never been done before by any government [that's for sure!], and Qarase himself went to Rotuma to distribute $300,000 worth of farming implements.
All this was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance and the "democratically elected government" of Laisenia Qarase.
N231. BANKERS AND CONSUMERS. Following complaints by the Consumer Council, the Reserve Bank has announced that it will now require commercial banks to publicly disclose any increases in interest rate spreads beyond the previously regulated limit of 4% for any given quarter. In addition to disclosing the actual interest rate spread, the banks will also be required to disclose the specific reasons, including management’s stance and justifications for the increase.
N232. BUYING PAPERS A WASTE OF MONEY: LIFT PART OF PER. This is what one reader wrote on posting N224:
Thanks Croz, Most thinking people would like to see the PER relating to the media lifted. So many agree with your correspondent that buying newspapers is a worthless exercise. Only the cartoons and sports section are of value. Currently there is little or no debate on national issues.
I would be interested to know from someone with insider information of Government who is opposed to lifting the PER, and who may support a partial lift.
N233. MINING: PART OF THE FUTURE. On Tuesday Government received its first cheque for royalty payments and export taxes from Fiji’s second operating mine in Wainivesi, Waimaro in Tailevu. The Wainivesi mine produces copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold and is expected to deliver more than $72m in tax and royalties — and spend more than $150m locally on operation and reinvestment in Fiji, during the next four years. The mine has an expected 20-year life.
The Wainivesi area was first explored in the 1930s and the mine opened briefly but was closed in 1955 due in part to to environmental problems.Exploration area resumed in 1999 and the present mine construction began four years ago and is still expanding. The company has already invested more than F$65m in its development. -- Based on No.0633/MOI.
A mining symposium to be held next month will be the first ever for Fiji with all mining stakeholders making presentations on mining issues.