Daily News July 1 -15, 2011

Friday 15.7.11 
SOME 20 LABASA PRISONERS soon  due for release are currently employed in the cane fields as part of the Yellow Ribbon programme. A prison officer said their employment helped inmates realise that they are part of the community and the importance of making a contribution; it enabled them to earn income that will go directly into their individual bank accounts, and it made use of idle land by cutting and supplying cane to the mill. FijiToday rightly says the use of prison labour is "always a contentious issue even with the best of motives" but so far the Yellow Ribbon programme seems to have assisted rehabilitation and reduced re-offending.
AMBASSADOR TO BRAZIL. Outgoing permanent secretary for Transport, Works and Public Utilities, Cama Tuiloma, has been appointed as Fiji's first Ambassador to Brazil. The appointment, which is part of Government's policy of increasing diplomatic ties with a number of countries, is expected to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries.-- Based on No:1444/PSC.
NEW MINISTRY NEWSLETTER.The Ministry of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment has launched its first newsletter ‘The Sustainer’ to better inform the public of its work. Later issues will also be published in the Fijian vernacular. The initiative is in line with Pillar 9 of the People's Charter, Fiji as a knowledge-based society. -- Based on  No:1443 /)
AIR PACIFIC WILL DOUBLE ITS SYDNEY FLIGHTS this November with the purchase of another Boeing 737-800. The new schedule will see an increase in weekly flights from seven to 13, and morning and afternoon departures.
ANTHONY GETS AUSSIE UNION SUPPORT.The ACTU has agreed to FTUC National Secretary Felix Anthony's request for pressure on the Fiji Government to reverse its decision to limit on-site union representation in "vital industries." They will target the World Cup and Pacific Islands Forum meeting and if this fails, they will target trade agreements such as SPACTECA.  I disagree with the Fiji Government's union restrictions but the irony is that if the ACTU actions cripple SPARTECA, it will protect relatively well paid male workers in the sugar mills and airline industry and  hurt Fiji's lowest paid workers, the women in the textile industry.
ISA! Fiji's ambassador to the UN, Peter Thomson, has been elected president of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for it current annual session currently underway in Kingston, Jamaica. ISA has 161 member states. ISA is an autonomous international organization, to which state parties to the Convention are given the responsibility of organising, controlling and administering the resources of the international seabed beyond the limits of national EEZs. -- Based on No. 1447/MOI.
BAU TIKINA ROAD IN TAILEVU, a 72-family farming community, now has electricity thanks to a $192,000 self-help project financially backed by Government. Women will no longer need to cook in the dark, food can be refrigerated, children will be able to study better, and hopefully fewer people will leave and more will return from the cities to farm their land.--Based on No.1446/MOI.

GIRC. Last week it was the PM's office that used Suva's downtown information and referral centre to inform the public about its work. This week is the turn of the Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Electoral Reform and Anti-Corruption,the Solicitor General’s Office, Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption, the Prisons and Correctional Services, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Registrar General’s Office. -- Based on No:1439/PSC.


JOKAPECI KOROI.The longest serving President of the Fiji Labour Party 79-year old Jokapeci Koroi passed away at her home on Monday night after a long illness. FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry says Koroi was elected to the FLP president’s position in 1991. She was first nominated to the Senate in 1999 and later served as its President and Deputy President. He said Koroi was the first local Matron of CWM Hospital and also served on the Board of the Fiji Trades Union Congress. Chaudhry said Koroi will be always remembered for her exceptionally disciplined and no-nonsense approach to issues and party matters.
TUILAEPA: IS THIS MAN REAL? Sometimes you have to wonder whether Samoan PM Tuilaepa is serious and ignorant or just trying to be funny when he talks as if Fiji is a subsistence economy. Having told journalists, "I think the New Zealand and Australia are too soft. They should be quadrupling or increasing their sanctions ten times." He went on to say, "Ordinary people would not suffer because they grew their own food and fished from the sea. The only people to be affected would be those who supported the military government."  This is not the first time he's uttered this nonsense.

    However, visiting NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully took comfort from his words and said, "Tuilaepa's strong words showed it was not New Zealand and Australia pushing other Pacific nations to speak out against Fiji, as the leadership there often claims." Yes, Minister, you are also supported by Polynesian Samoa, Niue and the Cooks, but not Tuvalu, or a single Micronesian or Melanesian government. 
     Tuilaepa had earlier asked McCully to persuade Air New Zealand to resume its flights from Samoa to the U.S.with a bigger berth plane, saying the seats in the 767's were too small for most islanders. "So we were on top of the armrest all the time from here to the States." Keep flying!        
THE FIRST BAUXITE MINE LEASE MONEY in Bua province paid out by trustees  last week seems likely to have positive downstream effects. Many landowners said they would pay off some of their housing and business loan payments; another said he'd invested in root crops and vegetables to feed employees of the Chinese mining company Xinfa, and some people living in urban Labasa
are reported to be returning home to farm land and start other businesses. Further lease money is due next month.

FIJI AND PACIFIC FORUM (FFA) have signed a five-year fisheries agreement designed to improve fisheries management and share relevant responsibilities. Specific outcomes concern tuna, regional monitoring and surveillance, and the sourcing of technical assistance. The Forum Fishing Agencies' 17 member states are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.-- Based on No:1441/MOFF.

Wednesday 13.7.11'
FIJI LABOUR PARTY CALLS TRAVEL BANS on guarantors for scholarship holders who owe the country $15million a "violation of human rights." Not at all.  They entered into a legal undertaking to pay up if those they sponsored defaulted. This is similar to guarantors for people breaking bail conditions. All they have to do to be removed from the list is to honour their guarantee.BEWARE BUYING A SECONDHAND CAR. Ninety  percent of the 788 complaints lodged with the Consumer Council from January-April concerned secondhand vehicles. Some 480 have been resolved and 67 are before the Small Claims Tribunal. 
AUSTRALIA AND SPACTECA. TEXTILE REFORMS NEEDED. An Australian delegation now in Fiji says further reforms are need in the Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) sector to widen its scope and to boost competitiveness. The delegation was collecting information for the impending year-end renewal of South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement (SPARTECA) TCF-Scheme between Australia and Fiji, which is expected to be renewed. The industry is vital for reducing poverty and stimulating social equality as 90% of its 4,000 direct and 16,000 indirect workers are women who, in most cases, are the sole support for their families.
AUSTRALIAN UNION ARE TIGHTLIPPPED about what actions they may take to support unions in Fiji, following FTUC  Felix Anthony's request for help.
IMPROVED TAX TAKE. Revenue and Customs (FRCA) have collected  $772m. in outstanding revenue since January, 25% up from last year. This is largely due to improvements in economic growth, particularly the enhanced performances from Fiji’s real economic sectors, new taxes on capital gains and water resources,the 2½% increase in VAT to 12½%, and new measures to counter tax evasion.-- Based on No:1432/MOI.
Tuesday 12.7.11
Kula, Collared Lory (Phigys solitarius)
WHEN A GOVERNMENT IS GOVERNMENT, LIKE IT OR NOT. Some readers prefer to call the Bainimarama government a regime because they do not like it and say it is illegal. These people criticise this blog for using the term government, and occasionally interim government, despite the fact that  it very definitely is the de facto government of Fiji. Calling it anything other than a government will not make it go away. Another reality is that Fiji's national bird is the kula, not the ostrich that buries its head in the sand hoping that what it can't see will go away.
FIJI'S FOREIGN RESERVES are the money held in foreign currencies by the Reserve Bank. RBF Governor Barry Whiteside says current reserves of  $1.522 billion, the highest recorded, are sufficient to cover 4½ months of imports of goods and non-factor services, and "an adequate buffer for preserving Fiji’s external stability, especially in the event of a sharp rise in imports particularly through higher oil and food prices." In other words, they can help contain inflation.
SCHOLARSHIP GUARANTORS NOW ON BLACKLIST. Some 2,000 PSC scholarship holders still owe the State $15 million. Some arrears date back seven years. In an effort to recover the money, their guarantors have now been put on the emigration blacklist. Fiji Today seems to think this is unreasonable:"More and More on Travel Blacklist..."
TOURIST RECORD ARRIVALS BROKEN. April arrivals were up by 10,547 (23.7%) on April 2010, totalling 44,000. Australia was up 9.4%, N Z 5.5%, Europe 6.9%, China 50%, Canada 13%, India 5.1%, Pacific countries 23.1%. Countrties recording loses were USA -0.3%, Korea -24% and Japan -14%.
ADI ATECA NEW LAU CHAIRPERSON. Adi Ateca Ganilau, sister of the President's wife and brother of absconder Ratu Tevita Mara, has been elected the new chair of the Lau Provinicial Council. She won 17 votes, Education Minister Filipe Bole won 15 votes and the Turaga Rokosau Roko Josefa Delainauluvatu won 6 votes.
Monday 11-Tues. 12.7.11

THREE SRI LANKAN lawyers left Fiji last week. The anti-blogs suspected the worst.  They'd walked out or been sacked for refusing to do Government's bidding. In fact, they'd completed their contracts. These blogs will soon be reading something sinister in a person being late for work!
CORRUPTION COMMISSION. Spokesperson  Erica Lee says the FICAC "obtained 13 convictions in court between January to June – we are awaiting ruling on another issue and we have about another 20 cases that are set for trial between this year and also five cases for next year – we progressing with our fight against corruption and this is all because the public is coming out and supporting our efforts and also coming on board with the activities and programme we have in place.”
CORRUPTION STILL POPPING UP. Fiji has about 6000 taxi permit holders, 2500 licensed rental vehicles, 108 licensed carriers, 368 minibuses with permits and 945 permits for vehicle hire. The competition for these licences must be intense with some licence holders illegally selling their permits for up to $45,000. The permits, however, belong to the Land Transport authority, that is working hard to and it track down offenders.-- Based on No:1419/MOI.
MORE HERALD NEWS, VIEWS OR PROPAGANDA. If you want an example of how to make a "news" story out of nothing and turn the result into an attack on Bainimarama, read this "sports" item in the New Zealand Herald.  It's unbelievable!
              Radio NZ International is NZ's Newest Anti-Fiji Blog

NEW BLOG. Radio NZ International is fast developing into NZ's latest anti-Fiji government blog. While the reputable media generally ignore unverified "facts" published on blogs, treat stories of  those political motivated with extreme caution, insist on facts and not individual opinions for their news items, and try to maintain some sort of balance, taxpayer-funded RNZI  has no such qualms. It constantly seeks out and publishes items the NZ Government wants to hear about Fiji. In one day it has published two such items.

The first, on Fiji's proposed electronic voting that will for the first time allow elections to be held and the results announced in in one day. Instead of applauding this  step towards elections, it quotes the concern of Australian-Fijian Usaia Waqatairewa  of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement about electronic voting. He says any reform of the electoral system needs to be made under an elected government. Sounds good but that means going back to the unfair, undemocratic and race-based parties and electorates that favoured ethnic Fijian nationalists and racists. He says registration records could be tampered with, and even manipulated.  Well, that won't be for the first time. In happened in 2001 and 2006. And he wanted to know about neutral observers. If so, why didn't he — and RNZI — ask Government that question? Did RNZI ask anyone in Fiji to comment on Usaia's statement, so that they could have published both side of the issue?  Or point out that electronic voting is used in many countries. Not on your sweet nelly!
BUT THE NEW BLOG DIDN'T STOP THERE. On the same day, apparently unable or unwilling to obtain any interesting news from Fiji, RNZI used another Australian story. This time from Greeenpeace's Seni Nabou, their "political advisor" for the Pacific. Seni expressed environmental concerns and asks whether there has been community consultation about Amex's plan to mine iron sands at the mouth of the Ba River. Fine, but why didn't she — and RNZI —  ask Amex, the Fiji Government and a qualified, independent environmentalist these questions before rushing into print?  All it would have taken was an email or phone call.

Friday 8.7.11
FILM ON RACIAL TOLERANCE. People travelling on Air Pacific can currently watch the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum’s 20-minute film “Enduring Hope.” The film is based on two life-long friends having to deal with differences within their ethnically-based communities during the political upheaval of 2000 and how they try to convince others on the need for racial tolerance. Funded by the EU, the film is multi-lingual (Fijian, Hindi and with English where necessary) and was shot at a rural location in Ba and a squatter settlement near Suva in early 2010.  CCF has applauded Air Pacific for supporting the local film industry and racial tolerance and harmony in Fiji.
MSG EXTRADITION AGREEMENT. Melanesian Spearhead Group countries are discussing the formulation of a legal framework to bind the MSG countries when they are facilitating extradition requests.
USP RECEIVED $20.7m, some 20% of its income, from the Fiji government in 2010. Funding for the regional university comes from its member countries, and Australia, New Zealand, Japan, EU, Korea, India and the UNDP.
MINING IN TAILEVU. A $6m  expansion plan for the Wainivesi Mine was announced yesterday by local owner, Asia Pacific Resources Ltd. The company plans a tenfold increase in its gold crushing and grinding capacity and  exports of zinc, gold, silver and copper  worth $400m over the next four years.

... and measures taken to improve Government efficiency

EXTRAVAGENCE QUESTIONED. PSC Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand confirms that the PSC is monitoring the number of government ministry and department workshops and training sessions being held at the hotels and resorts, when cheaper facilities may be available.
STOPPED FROM LEAVING FIJI. Some 2,000 people  have been prohibited from leaving the country until their scholarship commitments have been fulfilled.
RIGHT-SIZING. The PSC's Parmesh Chand  is  waiting feedback from the PM's Office on 'right-size' recommendations for the Ministries of Education, Health, Works, Transport and Public Utilities and Primary Industries. The objective is to establish the optimum size of the ministries and improve efficiency. Workforce numbers "in a few areas" may be reduced.
FOLLOW UP ON PROMISES TO LAU. Commissioner Eastern LtCol  Neumi Leweni has written to ministries tasked with implementing projects committed to the people of Lau by the PM during his recent visit. A ship will leave for Lau at the end of the month and the Commissioner "expects" all the materials needed to be on board.

WANTED: PEOPLE'S IDEAS. Government  is seeking views from the public on how it can move the country forward, according to Strategic Framework for Change Committee official Rudra Maharaj.  He was commenting on the large public turnout at the PM's Office exhibition  that ends at the Government Referral Centre in Suva today. Maharaj says the feedback they have been getting is welcome. People "can also come up with any other issues that affect their livelihood; any issues that they want the government to look into it. So it is not just complaints, they can also give the contributions as to how we can move forward.”
BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES: FINTEL 'SABOTAGE' STILL DAMAGING. Fintel's action in cutting Telecom's internet connections is still affecting services a week later. I called it industrial sabotage by management, and urged government to declare telecommunications a “vital industry” under the decree they plan to protect the sugar and airline industries from damaging trade union activity. Amongst those still affected are the customers of the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages whose computer operating systems are still malfunctioning and no certificates can be printed from the registries at Suva, Lautoka and Labasa, or any Post Fiji outlet. Government's ITC Department is working round the clock to rectify the defects but indications are that services will not be restored until late next week. The BDM Registry is considering upgrading its system so that any future disconnection will not affect services. Meanwhile, members of the public should ring Suva 3315280. or 330860, Lautoka 6665132, or Labasa 8812477 before collecting their certificates.
GOVERNMENT'S RURAL OUTREACH SERVICES will be boosted by 132 vehicles obtained as a result of a $10m vehicle lease three-party agreement signed by Government, Asco Motors and the Bank of the South Pacific. The leases are for 4 years and include insurance and maintenance.The main beneficiary will be the Department of Health. -- Based on No:1409/MOI.)
SHARK FIN BAN. Turtles and now sharks are to be protected.
BA A BOOM TOWN?  A $60m. capital injection by Australia's Amex Resources to exploit magnetite will mean a boom in economic activity for Ba and surrounding areas, including Lautoka, from where the magnetite will be exported. The 20-year operation will mine sands at the mouth of the Ba River.

 
Affirmative Action Abused

Malaysia should be a warning to Fiji about the way it was heading before 2006. A skills brain drain has affected both countries for some years and now threatened economic development.This explanation from Reuters: "Ethnic Chinese account for most of the brain drain. The reason 60 percent of them gave for why they moved out of the motherland was "social injustice", a World Bank survey says. They are referring to the "Bumiputra" (sons of the soil) policy that discriminates against Chinese and Indians, who account for a third of the population, in favor of majority Malays for all kinds of things -- places in universities, jobs, shares in companies, home mortgages, government contracts." Ring a bell, Fiji?
Thursday 7.7.11
U.S.DIRECT ENGAGEMENT.The woman expected to take over as United States’ Ambassador to Fiji has stressed the need for more direct engagement with Fiji’s interim government. The Senate is due to vote on Frankie Reed’s nomination after she appeared before its Foreign Relations Committee recently. Her statement at that time will be published on Saturday.
RATU NAIQAMA LALABALAVU, Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove and Tui Cakau who has been waging a "surreptitious" war against government  seems likely to face police charges for recent actions.
PENSIONERS AWAIT the FNPF board and cabinet's final decision on the FNPF Decree to find out whether the annual pension rate will be reduced to 9 percent.
.CORRUPT COP JAILED. The Labasa High Court today dismissed an appeal made by a former police officer who was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for seven counts of receiving a corrupting benefit.
DON BRASH'S SUPPORT for the People's Charter, good news as it is, should be taken with a pinch of salt.  He is not an MP, his right-wing ACT party is a minor government partner that will be lucky to survive the next election, and his statement that the multi-cultural envisaged for Fiji is
"exactly the kind of country he wants for New Zealand" is not what Fijians may think. He wants a NZ where Maori have no tangata whenua (itaukei) rights, and bury the bodies of past wrongs while they are still breathing.


"Non-Reviewable" Decrees

Yesterday I reported Dr Shaista Shameem as saying the decrees passed over the past two years blocked "access of the ordinary person to go on a human rights matter to the court, by putting these non-reviewable decrees in place." The statement needs clarification.


Nothing in the Human Rights or other decrees block access. The only restriction on litigation against the government is that its legality may not be challenged, but violations by government of human rights are all otherwise open to challenge, as long as the challenge is not about the legitimacy of the decree or the legality of government.


Shaista's remarks referred to access regarding a complaint against the FNPF.  These can be reviewed at any time in the High Court on the grounds that a decision is unreasonable. Human rights only come into the picture if there is a breach of natural justice, that is, the right to be heard, and heard before any decisions are made.  It would be most unfortunate if these proceedings are derailed by political innuendo. The pensioners are understandably concerned; they have a right to be heard,and the FNPF should do as much as it can to act on their concerns






Wednesday 7.7.11
GOVERNMENT OWNS FORESHORE. All lease money for development work carried out on foreshores up to the high tide mark, including beaches and mangrove swamps, will go directly to the Government. Landowners only have the right to live off these resources but compensation is always paid when landowners' rights have been taken away due to the development work on their fishing ground. Fishing Leases and beaches and mangrove swamps belong to the Government. Western Division Senior Land’s Officer Taniela Wacokecoke claerified the situation following queries from landowners about lease money.
ONE-SIDEDNESS. 'Gutter Press' comments that since I'm not a journalist facing deadlines, I should have time to search out alternative views before publishing only one side of issues. He said he reads my "excellent blog" because of the research that I put into it. Vinaka for the compliment, Gutter Press. I do try to publish alternative views, sometimes delaying postings, if not simultaneously, then later or by highlighting alternative comments. But unlike the teams of journalists, my sources and resources are limited, and there's only so much one person can do in a day. Readers only see the tip of the work needed to publish this blog. It is also worthwhile to ask why most overseas journalists writing on Fiji only publish one-sided stories — and why it's always the same one-side. I'm sure it's not just a time factor.
NEW PASSPORT SUPPLIER? De La Rue, the current supplier that was responsible for the delay of 17,500 passports this year, has not been included in the tender shortlist.
FIJI'S IRON SANDS. Shares in Amex Resources Ltd rose after the junior explorer said its $US60 million ($A56.02 million) iron sand project in Fiji was financially robust.
TELECOM HAS PAID its outstanding debt to FINFEL of over $250,000.
OUTGOING U.S. AMBASSADOR Steve McGann swore-in 25 new Peace Corp volunteers last week.  It was his last official engagement before the arrival of the new ambassador Frankie Reed. A statement by Ms Reed will be published on Saturday in Weekend Readings.
THE PM VISITED SOMARE IN SINGAPORE HOSPITAL and spent time with Mrs Somare.He wished Sir Michael a speedy recovery on behalf of Fiji and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.-- Based on No: 1391/MOI.
   
Lawyer Says Decrees are Blocking Ordinary People's 
Access to Courts
A Fiji lawyer says ordinary people’s right to go to court on human rights matters is being blocked by the Fijian government’s decrees. The Fiji National Provident Fund and the Attorney-General are being taken to court by David Burness, who said proposed changes to the pension are discriminatory. The two government parties tried to have the application struck out, saying they were surprised the registry had accepted the application. Burness’ lawyer, Dr Shaista Shameem said she too was surprised the matter even made it to court. “Our High Court is the court of original jurisdiction for human rights applications. But the Solicitor-General and the lawyer for the FNPF said these are not the processes to be followed, and in fact what they have done by decree over two years or so, they’ve actually managed to block access of the ordinary person to go on a human rights matter to the court, by putting these non-reviewable decrees in place.” Dr Shameem said both parties have now been given seven days to make written submissions on the strike out application, and the case will be called again on 18 July.




Tuesday 5.7.11
DON'T SWITCH IT OFF AGAIN, EVER. Commerce Commisssion tells FINTEL after last Thursday's internet shutdown.
NZ ACT PARTY leader Dr Don Brash  likes the look of the People's Charter and wonders whether NZ's policy is the best way to go.  
NEW SUGAR CANE GROWERS COUNCIL.The Commissioners Northern and Western, in the main cane growing areas, will be part of a new council where it is hoped "politics" will play no part.
AUSSIES, THEY KEEP A COMIN' Some 27,335 Australians visited Fiji in April, a  27.6% increase over the same period in 2010, and an all time record. Preliminary May figures also look promising.


   Early Elections?  Coup 4.5, You Can't Have it Both Ways


COUP 4.5 "SOURCES SAY". Coup 4.5, you really should not keep changing your position. In your posting on Monday, having previously gone on and on about calling for early elections, you complain that the deceitful Bainimarama is going to spring a surprise one as early as next year. How do you know this? Well, your "sources say." And look at all the money he's spending money in the provinces. It's obviously election bribes. And why is he holding early elections? Well, "with SDL and the Fiji Labour Party clearly not having any real leaders [that will surprise at least two people in Fiji!] and ill-prepared for an early election, Bainimarama is expected to romp home." You mean the people will vote for him? Oh, dear. But just to make sure, you say he's got the Indonesians working on the electronic voting system so it can be rigged. Even the UN observers  will be fooled.


One other thing, you're the blog that has constantly claimed  Khaiyum (and not Bainimarama) is really running the country. But now you're saying Bainimarama (who is not running the country) has taken Ratu Inoke Kuboubola's advice (and not Khaiyum's


Monday 4.7.11
 
COUP 4.5 SEEKS WORLD-WIDE HACKER HELP to gain access to Fiji government data supposedly to expose corruption.They apparently contacted HackerLeaks, a new WikiLeaks-style website for hackers, to ask for help. An SOS to the mafia next? Roll on, the "pro-democracy" forces.


QANTAS wants Fiji to pay $40m.to buy out its stake of national carrier Air Pacific.It recommends that Fiji, the largest shareholder, either cancel new aircraft orders, sell and lease back aircraft,refinance a plane hangar,  and sell the Sofitel Hotel on Fiji's Denarau Island to fund the 46.3%  acquisition.
THIS IS HOW MISUNDERSTANDINGS OCCUR. Apparently, a Lands Department official  told a Ba tikina representative that 75% of the land in Ba province had been "earmarked" for mining. Provincial Council Chairman, Ratu Meli Saukuru, said this would leave little land left for their source of income [presumably farming] and for development works. The Radio Fiji report went on to say that Saukuru will consult stakeholders, and magnetite mining will start soon.  It couldn't be a more garbled report. "Earmarked" must mean surveyed for mining possibilities. Government would hardly approve that all sugar cane farming cease in Fiji's largest and most populous province. We'll see what the anti-government blogs make of this one.
FIJI-MALAYSIA BUSINESS COUNCIL formed.
FIJI SUGAR CORP NEEDS TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE, says Permanent Secretary for Sugar Col.Manasa Vaniqi. People Government thought it could trust have come and gone with little achieved. “We need to bring in new people who have a heart for the industry, have a heart for the farmers, for the economy, for the country. It's all in the interest of the industry and what we are more concerned about is that for this many years the 200,000 people who depend on the industry have been taken for a ride they have been taken for granted." Industry cannot be revived without the right people.Vaniqi says the industry can not be revived if the wrong people are still part of the industry.
GOVERNMENT WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH iTAUKEI LAWS.  Bainimarama made this statement after receiving complaints that leaders in one village only allowed the Methodist Church in their village. The PM said government will not commit itself to such issues because the issue could only be solved by the people involved. People must be allowed to join any religious beliefs they choose, he said, but if it is a directive by village elders, they will have to solve it amongst themselves.




Friday 1.7.11
REMINDER. All comments on the proposed FNPF changes should be made on the "Peter Ponders..." posting, below. FICTU  seeks meeting. No confirmation date yet.
THE FNPF BOARD is currently analyzing all the public submissions on the proposed reforms before deciding on the best option to take to ensure the sustainability of the Fund. The FLP says pension cuts should be opposed. See special posting "Peter Ponders..." to comment.  Do not comment here.
UNWISE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the intended pension and trade union reforms (and Government's wish to speed up reforms) it  would be well advised to heed the objections and advice of those they will most affect, and implement necessary changes incrementally. Not to do so, will swell  the ranks of its opponents.
THE FNPF BOARD has declared 5¼% interest payout to members for the financial year ending 30th June, costing an estimated $135m.Last year the Fund paid out an interest of 5% costing $121m. FNPF has today said that the proposed FNPF reform will proceed as planned
FIJI ARMS MANUFACTURE? The A-G clarifies a misleading media report by referring to the SDL Government's Arms and Ammunition Act 2003 that allowed the manufacture of arms and ammunition in Fiji under certain stringent condition.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND EXCEEDING RENEWABLE SOURCES.Despite Fiji's efforts to develop alternatives to petroleum for electicity generation (HEP, biodiesel, geothermal, wind, etc.) “petroleum imports have increased from around $400m to over $1.2bn in four years. Our vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products is therefore of great concern, and we are developing and implementing our renewable energy policy to reduce our dependence on imported petroleum and increase the share of renewable energy in energy supply in the country.” Cama Tuiloma, Fiji’s permanent secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities also said Fiji, along with small island developing states in the Pacific region, had failed to recognize the impact of heavy dependence and vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products.
MAJOR AIRORTS UPGRADES.Some $120million will be spent on upgrading Nadi, Savusavu, Nausori, Labasa and Lakeba airports over the next 3-4 years. The work will include night lights for Nausori and  extending the Savusavu runway.
.AIRPORTS DIVIDEND HIGHEST EVER. Airports Fiji Limited  recorded the highest ever net profit after tax of $8.759 million last year but Government will recieve a smaller dividend ($1m.) to release funds for airport ungrades.
PRISON UPGRADES at Natabua (Lautoka) and Ba prisons  will include the extension of dormitories, new remand blocks, bakery and the administration blocks once money becomes available.The dormitories extension and  new remand blocks will curb problems of overcrowding at the two centres.
FOOD SECURITY. Opening the 2011 North Agriculture Show yesterday, Commissioner Northern Major Ilai Moceica said government is doing all it can to promote the use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in order to cut food imports that cost about $580m a year.
WATER IN WRONG PLACE. Newly appointed Permanent Secretary for Rural Development Col.Inia Seruiratu has told the PM the Rural Water Department should be returned to the Works Ministry because it is more familiar with rural problems.The PM said discussion is needed before a decision is made.

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