Economic Freedom in Fiji and Human Values

The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom report  from the Heritage Foundation, an American  right wing think-tank,* tells us as much or more about some people's human values as it does about the inherent strengths and weaknesses of a national economy. 

The Index uses ten indicators, which include Business, Trade, Fiscal, Monetary, Investment and Labour freedom, to place Fiji 86th out of 179 nations and 14th out of 41 in the Asia-Pacific, an overall position that has changed little over the past decade.  Its score of 60.4 out of a possible 100 is second  "best" of six Pacific nations on the list. Samoa is "best" with 60.6 and Solomon Islands "worst" with 45.9. 

What is most interesting in Fiji's index scores is the rationale behind some of them, and how they might affect the underprivileged.  On Trade Freedom, for example, Heritage says ten points were deducted because of "non-tariff barriers" (that are in place to protect the national economy); on Monetary Freedom ten points were deducted because of domestic price "distortions" such as Government's "control of public utilities" (that protect households from excessive electricity and water price increases) and Labour Freedom deteriorated by 8.3 points because "labour regulations remain rigid" preventing the efficient use of the labour market.  In other words there were to many regulations in place to protect workers. 

Compare these indices chosen to measure a particular kind of economic health with those of the UN Human Development Reports that use indices including: democratic governance, economic reforms and public finance, education, knowledge and culture, environment, public safety, poverty and inequality, public health, and the degree of social inclusion for the disabled, minority groups and youth — and then take your pick on which set of indices, those of the Heritage Foundation or the United Nations, are more likely to measure the true "health" of a society. 

* Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute - a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.


Indices of Unpreparedness said…
What does this Heritage Survey tell us of the position of ALL major Pacific Island countries under the sway of the Pacific Islands Forum? They all rate poorly. Samoa may be marginally better than the rest but it is still evidence of improper oversight and governance all round. On all counts, these island countries have been and still are grossly disadvantaged and unprepare for the economic woes yet to be visited upon them by imported inflation and reliance upon outside assistance.
A Failure to ask WHY? said…

It is interesting to learn this morning in the Fiji SUN page 8 that a former Australian Diplomat, one Fergus Hanson, is now in Washington DC and is employed as a research fellow of the Lowy Institute. He writes that he is finding out among other things that:

"The US government takes polling in foreign countries seriously, as a means of better understanding the views of foreign populations when making foreign policy".

Well, how smart of them! Why did Australia not follow suit eons ago? They are now apparently making up for lost time. Lost time....during which the population has had to put up with no one taking us nor our needs and basic requirements seriously.

Australian Aid has been hamstrung by this failure even in such serious quarters as Government Planning Committees: SWG 9 for instance. The Planning Committee for Justice, Law & Order. They never chose to find out why this Committee was Number Nine under Qarase and his regime. What a sad mistake. DId they ever ask any of the appointed members of this Committee what we thought about this? No, they did not.
Stuck-in-the-Groove said…
"No vulgar swears or racist attacks" : (this caveat appears on the Coup 4.5 blogsite)

Then, Mere Samisoni appears posting her contribution to what is expected to be support for Professor Wadan Narsey's analysis of the Lowy Institute's altered position on the finding of the Tebbutt Research recent Poll. But, there is a fly in the ointment. Because she goes on to query:

"the professionalism, truth and theory-making" of those who conducted or were in any way associated with the Poll.

What exactly is "theory-making"? Particularly in this context. Why not just 'theory'? This rather suggestive and therefore unacceptable approach to the deconstruction of a Poll about the purported popularity of a government seems to reinforce the stance of Dr Samisoni both wayback in 2000, 2001 and fast-forward to 2006.

It suggests "stuck-in-the-groove" somehow.
Index for Funding of Health Provision said…
Is Fiji spending 15% of total GDP on Health? And if not why not? Are we prepared now to fund our Health System from our own resources in the face of a diminishing global capacity to help us with shortfalls?

Why are 44 women per 100,000 dying in childbirth in Fiji? How was this permitted to occur?

Does it feel that we have spent 15%of GDP on our local Health System? Is our access to the most fundamental and basic prophylaxis in place? Maternal and infant mortality rate is a sound indicator of challenged health delivery.

If the answer is still 'No', then we are falling short on the indices that really matter and adjustments must immediately be made.

How smart are we in the management and the accountability of our Financial and Economic Health?
Fiji's Millenium Development Goals said…
@ Maternal mortality figures in Fiji - 2011

On 3rd or 4th of August 1970 - two months before Fiji's Independence from Great Britain, a young Indo-Fijian girl of 19 died in the Morrison Maternity Unit giving birth to her first child. In the morning she was full of laughter, anticipation and joy - by evening she had bled to death.

That event made a long, lasting impression. She was in a bed next to me and my three day old son was safely delivered and thriving. Over the years, she has often been thought of and her baby who survived. Now, forty-one years later in 2011, women still die needlessly at the rate of 44 per 100,000 in Fiji. This is a shocking indictment of the toll of political instability on a country which now 'Must Do Better' for Fijian women and children. The Millenium Development Goals still seem a long way off. How much longer must we wait for our grand-daughters to have safe deliveries like the rest of the world to the South?

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