Sugar and Water, Loan Okay But No More, Inflation Up, Policeman Jailed, PM in Jakarta, Supermarkets Fined

N0306. SUGAR AND WATER. What with the meteoric rise in the price of sugar, due to it being imported from Thailand, and Lautoka and parts of the West being without water for 37 hours,  it's not been good news from Fiji this week. The worst part, for those without water, seems to have been that the Water Authority did not keep them informed of what was happening once their announced original 14 hours shutdown for repairs went on and on. Engineers have been working round the clock to fix the problem.  With luck, water should be back on by now.  The shutdown was to allow work on the upgrade of the Kashmir Reservoir to ensure sufficient pressure to supply areas that had received intermittent supply over the past few years. Eight schools were closed and angry parents, inconvenienced by the shutdown, said the Water Authority should have ensured schools were not affected.

N0307.  USP ECONOMIST ON THE $500m BOND LOAN. The Fiji Times has published another short piece on USP's last week's panel discussion the bond issue. Economist Dr Tiru Jayaraman  thought Fiji wise not to have accepted the IMF terms for a loan because this would have meant the too-early closure of non-viable public enterprises, having a balanced budget, reducing debt levels and operational costs. The global global bond issue had spared Government and the IMF of all these. But the need for reforms is still there, he said, with Fiji needing self-regulation and self-control.

Fiji's total debt is 75.9% of the gross domestic product (as of 2010). Government's expenditure is about 28.5% of the GDP with capital expenses only making up 5.9%. The trade imbalance is about $726million.

The economist advised the country to draw a timeline on the implementation of the reforms, analyze the effectiveness of the first (Qarase) global bond issue, and  independently analyse the Asian Development Bank and IMF loans once projects were completed. He also recommended the strengthening of external debt recording management system.

He said the repayment of the $500m second global bond issue in 2016 should be from Fiji's own foreign exchange reserves and not by another bond issue or an IMF loan. "The second bond should put an end to all bonds," he said. "Second bond should be the mother of all bonds."

N0308. INFLATION ROSE in February to 7.6%, mainly due to the increase in fuel and wheat products and the higher Value Added Tax rate.

N0309. COP JAILED FOR TWO YEARS. A Labasa police officer has  been jailed for two years four months for corrupt conduct, having been found guilty of seven counts of obtaining corrupt benefits in the sum of $307 from a Labasa businessman.

He is the fourth officer to be sacked in the Northern Division over the past week. The other officers were dismissed following convictions for assault.

N0310. PM IN JAKARTA. The PM will open the new Fiji Embassy in Jakarta today. The initiative is part of Government's Look North policy which is intended to reduce it dependence on traditional sources of aid, investment and co-operation such as Australia and New Zealand.

N0311. DIRTY TRICKS.  Three Suva supermarkets, taking advantage of the shortage of sugar, have been fined for forcing customers to buy groceries if they wanted to buy sugar from their shops.

Comments

Interesting over at FijiToday said…
Croz,

I know you will have lots to say about the methods and pitfalls of this type of survey (anf fair enough) but the results do seem to reflect what I hear on the ground. And before we reject them we should also remember the pifalls and methods that where used to get the charter "approved".

Cut and paste from FijiToday below:

Results of our Poll after removing extreme opinions.
by fijitoday on April 6, 2011
FijiToday has been looking for a way to get a snapshot of where we are. A friend at USP proposed the poll that was posted recently. It was set so we could identify extreme views and remove these to get a more moderate result. Any vote over 50% shows the Government is succeding in this area.The poll was also fully seeking positives as this gives a more realistic result. The poll was monitored on a vote by vote basis and those that were obviously anti Government who did not vote for a single positive and those who were obviously pro Government and voted for every catogory including the obviously incorrect one (The Investment environment has improved since 2006) were removed.Those left are the ones that have made some attempt to answer the questions without having extreme views. These votes produced the following.
The Government has become less corrupt since 2006 42%
The Infrastructure, (roads,water) has improved since 2006 50%
Villages have received more help from Government since 2006 100%
Civil Servants provide a better service since 2006 58%
Medical Services have improved since 2006 17%
The Business Environment has improved since 2006 0%
Business Corruption (bribes) has decreased since 2006 33%
The Investment environment has improved since 2006 0%
I approve of the Look North Policy of moving closer to China and Malaysia 42%
I approve of borrowing to improve roading and water. 58%
I voted for the Peoples Charter 42%
I believe PER is necessary at this time. 17%
Anonymous said…
It is great to see coruption in the force being dealt with. It is sad though that the former police commissioner who wasted millions on his brothers religious crusade was able to simply resign and was rewarded with a plum overseas posting. I guess there is still two sets of rules - one for the military and another for everyone else. Also the 2.5 years looks like a long time in prision when you consider Francis Kean spent no time there for killing another man in a common brawl. Again the military are treated differentl !

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