Showing posts from March 27, 2011

People's Charter. Pillar 5 and Chapter 6 State of the Nation Report on Economic Growth: For Discussion

The text of each Pillar of the draft People's Charter (and its more detailed attendant State of the Nation report chapter) is published for discussion each week.To read  the text and discussion on earlier Pillars, type Pillar 1, etc, in the Search facility in the left sidebar.  

Since this Pillar and chapter were published, a number of events have occurred which have made some of their aims difficult, if not impossible to achieve, at least in the short term. These include the Global Recession and drying up of investment, two devastating hurricanes and a major flood, the boycott of Fiji in many international fora, the imposition of sanctions, and the withdrawn of foreign aid and major problems in the sugar industry.  Some observers have also blamed the policies of the Fiji government.  

The intended time-frame for the implementation of each Pillar should  be considered. It was not expected all would be achieved immediately or even in the short-term. Some goals would take much longer…

Is the PNG Land Grab Relevant to Fiji?

The New Land Grab in Papua New Guinea By Colin Filer, Australian National University
This article by Colin Filer  is of particular importance to Fiji because it shows what could happen if Government's Land Bank initiatives go pear-shaped.   The Land Bank was established by the Land Use Decree 2010 in which the state actively looks for available land and prospective tenants and acts as an intermediary by leasing land from the owners and  sub-leasing to farmers and investors. Leases are normally for 99 years and rent payments are guaranteed by the state. It seems like a win-win arrangement, but ...

Filer's  article opens ...

It is still commonly asserted that 97 percent of the land in Papua New Guinea  remains under customary ownership, just as it was when PNG gained its independence from Australian colonial rule in 1975 . Indeed, some commentators believe that this abiding reality is a major constraint on the country’s economic development. But there is now some cause for these …

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.

Sugar Price Hike
The price of sugar in Lautoka supermarkets skyrocketed on Tuesday 22 March. I was at the Lautoka market at around 11 am when the wife of a market vendor showed me the cash receipt which read $6.75. One unusual thing about the receipt was that it did not give the unit price or the quantity bought. It just had Sugar and the total amount. And the receipt was not very clear. Someone wrote an article sometime ago about cash register receipts that are printed on thermal paper. Was it done like that so that the price of the items would disappear in a short time?  Receipt need to be in ink that is readable for a long time.

At around 6 pm I was at the Lautoka market and met juice sellers…

Discussion in Fiji, Silence in NZ; Police Getting Serious; Election Groundwork Needed Now; Focus

WEEKEND READING ♦ Allen Lockington Column  ♦ People's Charter Pillar 5 (Achieving Higher Economic Growth): For Discussion  ♦ Is the PNG Land Grab Relevant to Fiji?

Photo: The University of the South Pacific Laucala Bay campus was built on the RNZF base for Sunderland flying boats which were then the only way to reach many islands in the region by air. The road on the left is Queen Elizabeth Drive that now dissects the upper and lower campus,  and the one from top to bottom of the photo is Laucala Bay Road.

N0292. PUBLIC DISCUSSION IN FIJI .  Restrictions on open debate could be improving in Fiji despite the retention of PER, the emergency regulations.  On Wednesday, USP held a public forum on the large loan recently taken out by Government, Fiji’s Second International Bond Issue. Speakers included Filimone Waqabaca (Ministry of Finance), Dr Mahendra Reddy (Fiji National University), Prof. Warden Narsey (USP), Norman Wilson (ANZ) & Dr. T.K Jayaraman (USP). Notable is the inclus…

Australia's Policy Not Working; Rule of Law, McCully's Carrot; MSG Leaders Endorse Fiji's Plans, Oppose Exclusion; McCully Leads Rudd

N0287. CALLS FOR POLICY CHANGE MOUNTING.  In the last few days we've had Australian Foreign Minister Rudd saying that Australia will not change its approach to Fiji; NZ Foreign Minister McCully wave the carrot of Rugby World Cup attendance if Fiji showed it was serious about elections in 2014; and three Melanesian countries accept Fiji's Roadmap and call for  its re-entry into the Pacific Forum and PACER discussions (see N0290, below).

Now we have Julie Bishop, the Australian Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs, saying Australia's policy of exclusion is not working, and that it should follow the example of the United States and other European countries and review its policies.

'I believe it's time, she said, 'for the Australian government to review its stance on Fiji, particularly time to assess  whether the sanctions imposed on Fiji are working or whether they are potentially counter-productive. We must  consider the impact of the sanctions on the Fijia…

China Helps Towards Energy Sustainability, Into Potatoes, Housing, Squatters, Labour Reforms

N0280. CHINESE-CONSTRUCTED HYDRO DAM at Nadarivatu in the upper Sigatoka River valley that commenced construction in 2009 is 90% completed and should be finished this year. The dam will be able to store a billion litres of water which will travel through a 2km tunnel to the power station on the river. Power capacity is 41.7 megawatts, equal to an estimated saving of F$50million a year in fuel costs. The construction by the China based Sino-Hydro Corporation.  The dam cost will cost about F$283.2 million (US$155million).

N0281. 90% RENEWABLE ENERGY BY 2015?The Fiji Electricity Authority hopes new renewable energy initiatives will help it to meet this target, that would cover a peak daily demand of 217 MW (1045 GWh per annum), by 2015.

The projects include the waste-to-energy power generators by iVITI Renewable Disenergy Power Plants, and Pacific Renewable Energy's wood-fired Lautoka plant.

FEA is also investigating wind-farm possibilities for Ovalau, and the use of bagasse from the …

McCully's Carrot, Fiji's Response; MSG Meeting Update, Qarase Trial Date

N0275. AUSTRALIA- NZ, WHO'S LEADING WHO?  Hard on the heels of Kevin Rudd's statement that showed there was no change in the Australian government's position on Fiji (that is now even drawing criticism from former supporters such as Jenny Hayward-Jones of the Lowy Institute) comes NZ Foreign Minister McCully's statement that NZ would relax its travel bans against Fiji if the Bainimarama government would give a firm commitment to hold elections in 2014.

It is hard to know whether to take this remark seriously because Fiji has repeatedly said there will be elections in 2014. Their Roadmap, as readers will know because it has been stated often enough on this blog, set 2009-11 aside for physical and institutional infrastructure reforms, followed by constitutional reforms in 2012, electoral reforms in 2013, and elections in 2014, probably in September.

This is the Roadmap that was spelt out to Melanesian leaders at the "Engaging the Pacific" meeting at Natadola la…

Chairman Frank's Pacific Coup

N0274. Two Australian Australian journalists, Graham Davis and Peter Hiscock, comment on their Grubsheet blog about Australia-Fiji-Pacific relations, and how Australia  is missing out in the Pacific.     Click here to the Grubsheet site.

Unchanged Utter Rudd-ish, Free Buses, Subsides for Disabled and Elderly, The EU, Increase Sugar Tonnage Price, USP's Token Disaster Assistance

N0268. RUDD: NO CHANGE IN POSITION OR APPROACHES.  Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, cited by the Otago Daily Times, said trans-Tasman  diplomacy calling for democracy in Fiji will continue to be vigorous, and that was often a tendency to focus on what  Australian and New Zealand diplomacy should be doing, rather than putting the onus on Commodore Frank Bainimarama's  military regime. Rudd then went on to talk about Bainimarama sacking its entire judiciary, closing down the media, and not holding elections.

"Bainimarama is the one who must change here ... if he is to  adhere to the standards and the norms of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth of Nations, [and] the United Nations." He said Australia and New Zealand were "doing a lot" in pushing for freedom of expression in Fiji, and diplomacy would continue to be active. "It will continue to be vigorous in engaging the Fijian regime. We're not in the business of legitimising what has  bee…

Sam Speight's DVD Claim Untrue; Condolences for Japanese; Asian Investment, Tourism and the Sevens

N0265. SAM SPEIGHT SACKED BY HIS VANUA. Former SDL Cabinet Minister (and elder brother of George Speight who was the frontsman for the 2000 Coup that overthrew the FLP-led Chaudhry Government) was arrested and allegedly beaten two weeks ago for breaking the Public Emergency Regulations and distributing an anti-government DVD made in Australia, and is now seeking political asylum in Australia. He claimed he was distributing the DVD on behalf of the Naloto vanua (clan) of Naloto to which he belongs.

Not so,  said Naloto spokesman Tevita Tamanisau. The people of Naloto were embarrassed by Tikoinasau's comments. At a meeting last week the chiefs of Naloto unanimously agreed to sack Tikonisau as chairman and trustee of the Dritabua Dairy Farmers Co-operative which is owned by the people of Naloto.

The meeting, which was attended by the Tui Naloto and all heads of the landowning units fro…