News and Comments Friday 30 November 2012
FTUC President, Daniel Urai told ABC's Pacific Beat on Tuesday that the FLP has betrayed its foundation values and "has seemed more like only looking after one ethnic group and just one group of farming community."
Urai denies he is giving the Bainimarama government legitimacy by forming a party to stand at the 2014 elections. He says he and his supporters are "between the devil and the deep blue sea ...You don't partake, things still move on ... if we partake, then we may be able to have some say in the formation of the next government."
The name and office holders of the new party will be announced in around two weeks time.
BUS CARDS FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED. Over 30,000 identification cards have been distributed since March 2011 to individuals with disabilities and the elderly according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.The disabilities have red IDs that entitles them to free bus travel and the elderly over 60 have yellow ones that entitles them to a 50% discount. Both groups can also get a 20% discount for the first 20 kilometres if they travel in taxis."
The Ministry's Permanent Secretary Govind Sami said the allocation in next year's budget will
permit them them distribute more IDs to those who are yet to receive the cards. He commended government for its $11million allocation in the 2013 budget.
POVERTY BENEFIT SCHEME. In April next year a new Poverty Benefit Scheme (PBS) will replace the Family Assistance (FA) scheme to benefit 13,000 of the poorest households in the country. The Social Welfare ministry says the existing food voucher scheme is poorly utilised, and with welfare covering all family assistance recipients, they are only able to assist 2000 people.
The new expanded food voucher program will target three groups: those over 70 years, children attending schools in rural areas, and pregnant mothers using rural stations.
All current social welfare recipients will continue to receive assistance but the new scheme will target households with a maximum of four members. Maximum payment will be $150 inclusive of a $30 food voucher, and able-bodied individuals in the households will undergo some skill training to help "graduate the family out of the system."
MORE HOME LOANS WRITTEN OFF. Nineteen families from the central and northern divisions have had their home loan accounts written off as part of the Housing Authority's new social housing policy that applies to H.A. homeowners who have paid one and a half of the principal loan amount, are unemployed because of advanced age or disability, and can prove genuine financial difficulty. To date, some 239 families have benefited from the scheme.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR NAUSORI. The market and service town of Nausori was the fourth town, after Levuka (1879). Suva (1881), and Lautoka (1929), to be incorporated as a town in 1931. Today's population is about 6,000 with a further 16,000 in the surrounding urban area.
Located at the eastern end of the so-called Suva-Nausori corridor, it has not seen the development that one might have expected from its early start. But three impending developments could see this start to change.
First, is the significant upgrading of King's Road that should see greater investment in farming and tourism in eastern Viti Levu. Second is the planned doubling in size of the Nausori market that will cater for over 1,200 vendors (presently 770). Government has allocated $1.5m for the development over the next two years, and the Town Council will contribute $6 million from bank loans.
The third development is the start of the ten-year upgrade of Nausori airport. The first phase of the upgrade is expected to be worth $20.7million, and will involve improving the operational safety of the current runway at the airport. This will entail widening the runway, strengthening the adjacent grass runway strip, building internationally required runway end safety areas, and installing approach lighting to allow for night time operations.
In stage two a new international terminal is to be built on a site where the hangars are now
located to provide much improved passenger services. The present terminal will then be refurbished for domestic commercial use and private jets. Stage two will also include the construction of a new control tower.
An extension to the runway from its present 1,868m to 2,300m that will be long enough to accommodate larger aircraft is scheduled in stage three of the development. The total redevelopment program is estimated to worth $60million.
NEW CURRENCY NEXT YEAR. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth will be replaced next year with a new series of banknotes and coins that depict Fiji's flora and fauna
Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside said members of the British Royal Family have featured on our currency since 1934 and the country is grateful to have had the privilege of this association over the past 78 years. He said that while it is sad to see the transition taking place, it is time to move forward and promote Fiji’s unique national treasures and the biodiversity that lies around us. The new notes and coins will start to come into circulation from 2nd January, 2013.