Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On
Allen reflects on the flooding that is currently affecting the West.
Take VAT Off Flood Relief
The West is once agan being ravaged by flood waters. I pity the people who have been affected. Just when they were recovering the floods hit us again.
Some people will be wondering what is happening. In the past we would be hit by one hurricane that would last for about four hours and that's it. We wait till the next year and brace again. But this is not even a hurricane and it has caused more damage and grief than a cyclone or hurricane.
Our finances will now be stretched even further and the big companies and organisations that have given thousands of dollars may not be able to give once again.
In 2009 we received around 50 containers from donors in Australia and New Zealand. In the January floods there was none, because Customs was levying VAT on the relief supplies. Some containers were returned to the senders because no one wanted to pay VAT on goods that were given free and to be distributed free. And a few are still sitting in shipping companies yards waiting to be auctioned in the government auction. Even the donors didn't want the goods back because they had received it from many different people and it would just go back and sit in the containers or destroyed. As a Customs broker I know about this.
The people in Fiji can do with some relief and I plead with government to zero rate flood supplies so that the donors can once again assist. I know of many people who want to send flood relief goods but will not because there is a 15% VAT on the value of the FOC goods.
I have been told that this flood is worse than the last one, so, can we zero rate relief supplies please. Our people really need all the help. If government insists on colleting VAT then not many will send supplies. Anyway, the very same organisations and have been pouring money in to the Prime Ministers relief Fund and we ask them to pay VAT.
So I hope someone sees the light and does something about this.
Mother Teresa said – Give till it hurts. But we will soon run out of things to give. Our friends from across the seas are ready to give. But spare them the VAT please.
New Stategy Needed
Once again we wake up in Lautoka to torrential rain and strong winds that has lasted about 12 hours. The radio stations have mentioned that parts of Ba and other places are flooded.
In Lautoka, as I write, Navutu is underwater and all storm drains are flooded. Creeks are flooded. Parents are all wondering if schools will close. Teachers are also wondering is they should go to school or not. They risk a pay cut if they do not go to school if there is no message from the top.
I believe a new strategy has to be implemented by the Ministry of Education to empower the Commissioner Western to exercise his authority and call for the closure of schools in the West if he sees that the weather is really bad, like this morning. He should not have to convene a meeting to decide, as a parent and a strategist he should be given the authority to decide.
Some parents will send their children to school bad weather or not, the news should be out by 6 am because many parents leave at 630 am and take their children with them. By 7 am many children will already be on their way to school.
Gossip is a Crime
I looked up the Crimes Decree 2009 Decree No. 44 of 2009 and it does not say anything about gossip being a crime.
Could the police clarify please. Because a report in Fiji Times Friday, March 16, 2012 says that a group of women vendors in Labasa were yesterday told to refrain from gossiping because it was against the law.
In her formal address, police constable Mere Mocetoka told the women that anyone was liable to spend one year in prison if found gossiping or making bad remarks about another person.