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

N230. AGRICULTURAL SCAMMERS JAILED. Following the Speight Coup and in the year of the 2001 Elections, SDL politicians in the Qarase government, senior civil servants and leading businessmen colluded to use public money for their personal gain and political advantage.  Some were jailed when the Qarase Government was in power; others who should have been were not.

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.


sara'ssista said…
N230 Given the hositlity the military had towards the Qarase government, some of it merited (but in any event entirely inapproriate for a militray anywhere to make political commentary or threats) i don't actually recall them ever being too publicly concerned about the money being used for this purpose, was that because they didn't feel (and still don't)the least bit constrained by any civilian budget themselves?
Fiji has no government said…
Hi Croz
Just a correction. Fiji does not have a government. The legitimate elected Government of Hon PM Qarase was deposed in Dec 2006 by men with guns. Fiji now has a regime run by a dictator but we are all hoping Fiji will be free again soon and return to democracy.
who's who said…
For the Agriculture Scam alone, Qarase deserved to be removed. Let alone the injustice of not reinstating the elected government of Mahendra Chaudhry. There is a government in place. There is no anarchy in the land. The public purse is currently being controlled by the government of the day, period.
insider said…

The PER stays in palce for one simple reason - CONTROL. It enables the dedicated RFMF to deal with any disenting views quickly without fear of any legal or other issues. It enables us to keep the news positive and Fiji moving forward. Business likes it because it stops the annoying moaning of unions. Look at Singapore. Its a good thing and here to stay in one form or another.
Views said…
@ who's who

So Frank should reistall the labout government. Oh that's right he did put them into his team and then promptly sacked them when he realised they where as corrupt as Qarase. Only sad thing is this new (and old) team are even less transparent than previous givernments and can hide behind decrees and PER.
sara'ssista said…
I don't care a jot to explain or defend the Qarase government, and yes even they perhaps 'desrved to be removed', but by parliament or the courts. Not a military regime.Plenty of other options that this regime decided deliberately not to persue. Now we not only have miltray regime but now an embedded militocracy presumably based on indonesia , philipines or thailand, all of which share their own very recent and familiar issues becasue of this short sighted, 'with us or against us' mentality of an all-knowing and apparently 'faultless' military whose first act is always to absolve themselves. I would have thought that recent events that all things come to an end and not necessarily on your own terms. I can wait.
who's who said…
sara'ssista - Yes indeed, let the almighty decide. But he has, hasn't he ?
bank isider said…
n231 - a condition of the IMF line of credit was RBF cease its pricing controls on commercial banks. Now its effectively back
History said…

I think you are being a bit loose with the truth when you say that the military did not try other options before the coup. Frank tried many times leading up to the coup to modify Qarase's policies. And the military was not involving themselves in general politics, but only those bills directly related to national security. The situation only came to a head when the SDL tried to get Frank removed from within the military then by using Huges to arrest him. There were even rumours they asked New Zealand to arrest him when he attended the final meeting with Qarase. The military did try other options, and only used the coup as a last resort when backed into a corner by the actions of the SDL.
Fiat Iustitia! said…
@ The test of courage comes when you are in the minority...."

Alright, but taxpayers are in the majority! All over the world taxpayers, who pay the money that funds governments, are within their rights to hold those who dispose of those funds fully accountable. Now it is time for the Ministers who disposed of our money to be held to account for the Agriculture Scam 2001. Not before time? Who benefits? Is the salient question? Well, now we know. And each and every Minister of State since must be held accountable likewise. Substantive Office Holders like Police Commissioners who permitted civilians they were tasked to protect to be terrorised and be set upon now need to own up. Do so now or be pursued down the years for your betrayal and Abuse of Office! Australian taxpayers who funded the SWG9 Justice, Law & Order Planning Committee to the tune of AU$10m ought now to ask how their money was spent? Who benefitted and why do a former DPP and Police Commissioner still roam free? Is this the tolerance of the majority in action?

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