Showing posts from January 16, 2011

Why the Roadmap? The Politics under the Bridges Part I

By Crosbie Walsh
The Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development 2009-2014 was approved by Cabinet not long after the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitition in April 2009 and I think the two events were related. 
The 2009 Roadmap, however, was not Fiji's first. A Roadmap for the Return to Parliamentary Democracy was announced by Bainimarama in February 2007, barely two months after the December 2006 Coup. This earlier Roadmap focused on economic recovery, stabilising government finances, keeping national debt within 2% of GDP, restructuring the the sugar industry, reviving tourism and proper land use planning, resolving the land lease issue, creating more jobs, better incomes and less poverty. Some progress was made on the land and leases issue but few if any of the other goals were achieved. Government had underestimated the difficulties, made no allowance for the negative effects of the Coup (which saw aid and loan moneys dry up and key civilians unwilling to…

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Narayana Hrudayalaya

A good friend (Sumanth, not his real name) has just returned from India after undergoing open heart surgery. He had gone to Brisbane and never really thought of which hospital he would go to. While he was there at his mother’s home Indian nationals visitors suggested to him the Narayana Hrudayalaya Group of Hospitals in Bangalore India. He went on to the Internet and checked the name and asked for a quotation. He got an immediate response. He had asked for quotations from many hospitals around the world including Australia and New Zealand but he got a reasonable quote and precise explanation on the procedure that would be done. He was impressed and took the offer.

The Kaunitoni Migration

Recent discussion on the need for I'taukei to revisit their myths and traditions written by outsiders makes this 1966 article by Peter France of special interest. My apologies for the crude reformatting from the pdf format.

This note from a reader : "France explains politely but devastatingly that the myth began not in Fijian prehistory but with the missionaries Carey and Fison, and was brought to full flower... as a result of a competition in Na Mata. Fijians, as we know, are great story-tellers, and the challenge of a competition would have certainly brought forth the highest flights of fancy they could muster. Lutunasobasoba (another myth) and the Kaunitoni story was the result. I don't think it is mentioned in the France paper, but somewhere not long ago I read that the person who won the competition was none other that Basil Thomson's own clerk - mission educated and also used to his boss's ruminations about voyages."

Air Pacific Be Wary, China 'No Good' for Pacific, Aziz & FHL, Bus Fare Help Criticised, Japanese Aid

N0055. QANTAS QUERY. Qantas, which owns 47% of Fiji's national carrier Air Pacific,  has invited Government, that owns 51%, to buy it out so that it may concentrate on it budget airline Jetstar. Government is still considering the offer.

While not privy to the intricacies of the issue (Qantas apparently has veto powers on some matters) my gut feeling would be to leave well alone. Government has the controlling share in Air Pacific and seems to have little to gain from taking on more debt. Further, retaining Qantas's financial interest in the airline —at no cost to Government and considerable cost to Qantas— is a handy card to have and hold. Present arrangements should not prevent the intended rationalisation processes and restructuring to ensure Air Pacific's continuing competitiveness.

N0056. CHINA 'NO GOOD' FOR PACIFIC. The Director of the Melanesia Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Jenny Hayward-Jones believes China is no longer a force for good in the Pa…

Blog Fortune Tellers, Government Housing, the DPP, Chaudhry & Takiveikata, FSC Reforms

N0051. THE ANTI-BLOGS ARE AT IT AGAIN. Don't get your fortune read at the CoupFourPointFive blog — or the FijiDemocracyNow blog that regugitates and adds to their predictions. Almost all their previous predictions have proven wrong.  Now they foresee that the days of the President are numbered.

Why?  Because  "speculation resurfaces" and, I quote,  they "have heard reports that the so-called attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has written to the Naulukau [sic!] to advise him that his term as president ends at the end of February."  And because "it would make sense."

And the "sense"?  FDN says that because  the A-G "has the legal power to sack Bainimarama, then it would make sense for Sayed-Khaiyum to act sooner rather than later."

Why? Because "Sayed-Khaiyum knows only too well that his position in the regime is completely dependent on Bainimarama’s support. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum also knows he would be totally vulnerable to a mo…

Re-emergence of Sacrilege is a Serious Concern

CCF Media Release
Re-emergence of sacrilege is a serious concern
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) is calling on people of Fiji to respect the values and practices of people from different religious groups.
“Fiji is a country where people from many different racial and religious groups have been living together for the past century. This has been possible because there has been respect, tolerance and non-interference with the cultural and religious values of others,” CCF Chief Executive Officer Rev Akuila Yabaki said.
“We deplore the actions of thieves who stole Hindu religious deity statues from a family residence in Valelevu. This is a violation of the human rights the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, and also the Right to Own Property,” Rev Yabaki said.
Rev Yabaki is further calling on religious organizations, as well as parents and community leaders, to create understanding of human rights to children and community members.
“An increased knowledge of human …

Army Engineers, MSG Meeting, Ageing Population, Student Loans in Arrears

N0047. ARMY TO UNDERTAKE MAJOR CIVIC PROJECTS. Army engineers  will use the heavy  machinary recently arrived from China to speed up rural development projects already in the pipeline. The shipment of equipment, valued at $4.1m, includes four excavators, five dump trucks, three bulldozers, two vibratory rollers, a pneumatic roller, two motor graders, two wheel loaders, two loader/diggers, a water truck, a pick-up and a truck with a crane. This is the first time the RFMF has had the equipment to undertake major construction work.

N0048. MSG TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT. Fiji will host the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting this year, and PM Bainimarama says Fiji will take the chairmanship role very seriously to ensure that Melanesian countries are acknowledged and treated with respect in the region and beyond. The meeting is expected to be held in Suva in late March.

. Although a young population by development country standards, Fiji’s population…

Swinstead Resigns, Hopeless Provincial Management, Blog Misrepresentation, MicroHydro

N0043.SWINSTEAD RESIGNS.  The resignation of Fiji Times publisher Dallas Swinstead after only five months in the hot seat will inevitably result in many people asking why. My guess is that there is nothing sinister in the decision. His appointment was always a stop gap measure to reposition the paper following the disastrous leadership appointed by its previous owners News Ltd and give the new owners Motibhai Group and chairman Mahendra Patel time to scout for a new publisher.

Swinstead said he would return to Australia “with a great feeling of satisfaction and pride at the quality we have achieved, despite sometimes difficult circumstances”. The appointment of a new publisher will be announced shortly.

N0044. HOPELESS PROVINCIAL MANAGEMENT. The Public Accounts Committee Report on the Auditor General’s audits of the 14 Provincial Councils for 2007 show a number of anomalies. The report shows that a number of councils had exceeded the amount they collected through provincial funds and …

Government Directs NLTB to Implement New Land Rent Distribution Formula

The Government has directed the Native Lands Trust Board to immediately address matters that may impede a decision on the equal distribution of all money’s received by the board on all native land.
In a letter to NLTB senior management, the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama stressed the importance of the board complying with the Government decision.
“Please ensure that all matters are immediately addressed and that Government’s decision on equal distribution of all moneys received by NLTB is implemented with due dispatch,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

Potato Import Substitution, Grassroots Governance and Rural Shops, I'taukei Defined, Thai-Poosam

N0039. POTATOES IN FIJI'S LITTLE ISRAEL. When Jews set up kibbutz (agricultural villages) in British Palestine from  the early 20th century until the 1950s, they turned land only fit for grazing into highly profitable farms.  In a smaller way this is what is happening at Tadravula near Seaqaqa in Vanua Levu.

There 1,600 acres of land, previously owned by the then Native Lands District Commission that had been idle for 20 years, is being turned into a large integrated vegetable and fruit farm that will produce potatoes as its major crop. The farm is being operated by an Australian company Farm 2 UFresh Fiji Limited that so far has sunk $2 million into the project.

Managing director Aaron Sharma said they are planting 25 acres of potatoes every week and will soon harvest the same amount in a sustainable system to ensure continuous supply. Sharma hopes to harvest more than one million kilograms in a year.

The farm is seen as a major player for import substitution, and part of governm…

Drugs, Fuel, Comparisons with NZ, Teachers, Wages

Check out the new Quote for the Week in the right sidebar and  scroll down to Friday's postings and Weekend Reading.
NOO33. ESSENTIAL DRUG PRICES DOWN 30%. Prices of 74 basic essential pharmaceutical products that are under price control will be reduced by an average of 30% from next Friday but "lifestyle" drugs, on which pharmacists will be able to make high profits, will not be affected. Pharmacies will be required to display the basic drugs under price control.

In making this announcement Commerce Commission chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy said “Government has been concerned for some time with regard to the high and increasing prices of pharmaceutical products, in particular, essential drugs, and  their variability within a small geographical location.” he said.

Dr Reddy said there were several implications from these two issues: First, low income households could be deprived of accessing essential drugs; secondly, an unhealthy population creates additional costs to Governm…