News and Comments Friday 1 March 2013
|Alice and the March Hare|
TOTAL MOBILE AND BROADBAND ACCESS. Government hasrenewed its commitment to provide every Fijian – irrespective of where they live – access to affordable mobile telephone and broadband services. Coverage, including 3G, is now about 95%.
A GOLDFISH AND AN IKA DROKA. "Navosavakadua," a frequent government critic on Fiji Today, said PM Bainimarama has the short-term memory of a goldfish He cites the PM as saying that no native land will be sold on under his watch, but then asks, hey, "what about the 1,700 acreas leased for 99 years to FSC to grow sugar cane? Effectively, no landowner alive today will see his land back in ownership. If they want to use it they’ll have to buy it from FSC. Isn’t this conversion to freehold without the courage to admit it?"
No, it is not. Navosavakadua needs to understand the differences in meaning between ownership (which is not affected), lease (which can benefit both parties), actual use (that can benefit the user and the country) and possible future use. This "land bank" land was voluntarily leased to government to act as a guarantor of fair rental, and then by government to the FSC. Government's every effort is to bring more land into production and, incidentally, to get more ethnic Fijians using their tens of thousands of acres of unused land.
Navosavakadua should stop muddying the waters like an ika droka and use his writing talents to encourage his fellow iTaukei to use their land, and heed Bainimarama's constant plead to villagers to rely less on government and do more to help themselves. My personal view is that 99-years is too long, for most types of land use, even though there will be rent reviews, but this depends also on the amount of productive land still available for mataqali use.
ILLEGAL SELLING OF CROWN LAND LEASES. Millions of dollars a year are being lost due to this practice, and the Lands Ministry has warned tenants they face eviction if found illegally subdividing or selling crown land leased to them. The practice is mainly close to urban areas, and in Nadi one farfmr was found to have subdivided 18 acres of his expired State leased land and pocketed about $0.5million from the sale of more than 50 lots. Eviction of the new occupants is difficult because of the "huge sums of money" — $3000 or $4000—involved. Some 440 complaints were received by the Ministry of Lands from their first ever road-show regarding state land leases in the West, many concerning lease infringements.
ROADING TIMELINES.The newly established Fiji Roads Authority is confident of meeting its timelines as it works around the clock to restore roads around the country including maintenance works. CEO Neil Cook timelines have been set which will see all roads’ conditions in the country addressed. “The big difference FRA will do is there will be the quality standards which will be applied. Potholes that are repaired now will not appear immediately after the next rain and contractors who fail to carry out repairs effectively will have to re-do the work at their own costs. Our professional services provider and physical works contractors are now in place. We have qualified people with the right skills and experience to deliver on Government’s promise to the people of Fiji."
WOMEN'S MINISTER Dr Jiko Luveni will address the 57th session for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, whose theme is “Elimination and Prevention of All forms of Violence Against Women and Girls,” with particular focus given on primary prevention (stopping violence before it starts) and responses to victims and survivors of violence. Dr Luveni says that “Given the theme of the forum, Fiji’s initiatives in the past few years to eliminate violence against women and girls continue to gather momentum. Fiji will be proud to share its experiences and findings, particularly in strengthening the community support to sustain the program at community level,” she said.
- Dialysis treatment, previously unaffordable for many in need in Fiji, will now be assisted for a 3-month period, with $7,200 paid for by government. It is hoped thia will give families time to seek further funding for overseas transplants.
- Another ten low-income Housing Authority mortgagees have had their loans paid off and now fully own their homes.
- The delay in announcing members of the Constituent Assembly is due to delays in the party registration process
- In Suva recently, Interpol head General Ronald Noble has congratulated Fiji for its contribution towards Interpol's work
- Monasavu Dam landowners will push for their claim for compensation over the use of the Monasavu Dam and the Wailoa Pumping Station built in the 1990s
- Florence Peterson, a 57-year-old former employee of Save the Children Fiji who stole more than $47,000 has been sentenced to four years imprisonment by Suva High Court today by Justice Paul Madigan
- Yesterday's “Shelter Cluster Activities for Tropical Cyclone Evan and Post Disaster Awareness” workshop looked at challenges and lessons learnt from the last cyclone, The Ministry of Local Government signed an MOU with six cluster groups to further empower NGO's where support is needed.
- Half a million US dollars to be generated from Namosi manganese mining.
- The proposed Social Democractic Liberal Party is to apply for registration despite its prohibited use of the SDL acronym associated with the Soqoaoqo Duavata Lewenivanua party from which it has been formed.
ALL OF A TWITTER. The Fiji Truth Movement comments: "@crosbiew # utter cr**p! No wonder Fiji's diktatorship is in a tail-spin with academics like yr dear gud self advising & propping FJimps!"