News and Comments Thursday 18 October 2014
A REMINDER ON DAYLIGHT SAVING. Clocks will be put forward one hour on Sunday.
These events should be followed by a truth and reconciliation commission. Rabuka also stressed the importance of good iTaukei leadership for national coherent growth and iTaukei participation in national development, adding that if traditional leaders prove inadequate, they must be replaced by those who have the confidence of the community and can lead by example.
THE SDL SUBMISSION. The Soqosogo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party whose government was overthrown in the 2006 Coup wants:
- Christianity to be proclaimed the state religion
- Only indigenous Fijians to be called Fijians; other citizens to be called Fiji Islanders
- The Fijian language to be a national language
- And more protection for land, mineral and qoliqoli resources.
- The Great Council of Chiefs should be established under the Constitution, instead of a legislation.
- The election of the President by Parliament not by the GCC
- No significant change to the Communal and Open system of voting.
- A 71-seat parliament comprising 25 Communal (12 iTaukei, 10 Indo-Fijian, 1 Rotuman and 2 Others) and 46 single member Open seats.
- A provincial environment so that everybody has a right to healthy environment
- No immunity provision except thought a Commission of the Coups that would deliberate before amnesty is given.
- Military officers involved in the 2006 coup to be stripped of their medals.
- No provisions for dual citizenship.
- The term “sexual orientation” to be removed from the Bill of Rights of the 1997 constitution.
FIJI SUGAR CANE GROWERS ASSOCIATION SUBMISSION.The submission blamed the 2006 Coup and the Government for the state of the sugar industry.
Between 2006 and 2011 the number of growers dropped from 18,636 to 16,259; cane crushed dropped from 3.226m tonnes to 2.096m tonnes, and tonne price to growers from $58.36 to $54.87, while the number of cane tonnes needed to produce one tonne of sugar increased from 10.4 to 12.55. The net earning of two-thirds of farmers who on average produce 200 tonnes of cane in 2011 was $24.50 or $4,900 a season, well below the Poverty Line.
Causes of sugar decline
The FSCGC attributed the situation to the non-renewal of leases, the rising costs of production, the loss of the $350 million grant from the EU, and Government's scrapping of the Sugar Cane Growers Council in which the FSCGA played a major role. The Association claims that but for the Coup Fiji could have been producing 4,000,000 tonnes of cane and 400,000 tonnes of sugar a year.
The FSCGA submission, signed by general secretary Bala Dass, sought the retention of the 1997 Constitution with these changes: a common roll, proportional representation based on a national constituency; a closed list system with 35 seats to be constituency seats based on boundaries that result in equal value to each vote; a parliament of 71 members with power sharing and a Multi-Party Government.
On the sugar industry, they wanted the entrenchment of the Agricultural Landlord & Tenant Act (ALTA); the leasing and re-leasing of indigenous land by Government via the Native Land Trust Act with the NLTA taking 10% of rentals; rentals maintained at 6% of unimproved capital value with Government paying the other 4%; a guaranteed minimum price of $80 a tonne; the removal of the 3% sugar export tax; and the re-establishment of the FSCGA. They wanted the Fiji Sugar Corporation to be responsible for cane harvesting, cartage and associated costs.
Other concerns and requests
They also expressed concern about rural roads and infrastructure; and wanted subsidized fertilizers and weed killers; concessions on fuel and spare motor parts; less "insensitivity" from the Land Transport Authority for vehicle defects caused by poor road conditions; regular agricultural grants to needy farmers; an old age pension for farmers, free tuition from primary to tertiary education levels; better schooling and hospital treatment; the end of daylight saving, and — no immunity for the perpetrators of the coup.
MERE SAMISONI BACK IS BACK IN COURT after returning from overseas.
Samisoni, Apete Vereti, Semisi Lasike and Mataiasi Ragigia have again appeared in court charged with urging political violence.The case is now moved to the 6th of February next year for mention.
ALLEGED THEFT BY SOLDIERS. Chief of Staff Brigadier Mohammed Aziz has announced that five military personnel were arrested and detained the five in relation to embezzlement in the pay office last month. The five are now under open arrest. A substantial amount of money is involved. The matter has also been referred to the police.
ELECTORAL DOUBLE DIPPING. The Elections Office has identified over 1,000 duplicate files in the electronic voter registration database. The files concern people who have registered more than once. In one instance a name was registered 10 times. A provisional roll will soon be available for people to check whether their names are on the roll.Some 488,000 people registered in the first phase of registration. The report did not say whether the 'double dippers' would be prosecuted.
LEVUKA A WORLD HERITAGE SITE? Fiji's first capital is applying for world heritage status. National Heritage director, Peni Cavulagi, says he hopes to submit Levuka's case to the World Heritage Committee in July next year. Levuka is unique in the Pacific because of its history and several buildings are over one hundred years old.