News and Comments Thursday 22 August 2013

The road ahead
NEW CONSTITUTION OUT TODAY.  Fiji's new Constitution will be unveiled by Attorney General and Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum  today. The document will be released in English, i-Taukei and Hindustani languages to the public. The release will be followed by four briefings with important stakeholders and the document will then be passed on to the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on September 6. The 2013 Constitution was put together following widespread consultations and based on submissions received.
Fred Wesley

These were the words used by Fiji Times Editor Wesley in welcoming  the announcement on the constitution. He particularly welcomed the news that briefing sessions with the media, registered political parties and diplomatic corps will highlight where amendments took place in the draft constitution which was compiled following widespread consultations. "We all should rejoice with the state that we finally have something to guide us to the 2014 Elections.

"Despite what skeptics will say, this is good news by the government. We have finally left gravelled road and turned on to a tarsealed highway as we look ahead to 2014. We now have a document that will guide us to the elections and beyond.The onus though is on everyone to ensure this road to the polls is good and big enough for us all ... It should be a catalyst for hope and change. There will be differences of opinion.  However, at the end of the day, it is imperative that we never forget that we finally have a document that will allow many things to happen. This is a new beginning for us all."

SUBMISSIONS ON THE 2014 BUDGET. Various community organizations and business groups yesterday presented their submissions to Government as part of the lead-up to the 2014 budget in November. As well as airing their views on the direction the next budget should take, a talanoa session provided an opportunity for the various organizations to hear each other’s views.

FCSS Director Hassan Khan
Attendees included government officials, and business representatives, academics, and civil service organizations including the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, Mareqeti Viti (Nature Fiji), the People’s Community Network, the Fiji Council of Social Services to the Fiji Sports Council. A dominant theme was a call from business for the Government to continue with its efforts to improve efficiency in the Civil Service and cut red tape.

A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bainimarama Government had made significant reforms over the past few years that were badly overdue. “We need to treat the development of the economy in a holistic manner, balancing the different interests and ensuring that the much needed fundamental structural changes provide benefits for all Fijians.” -- Fiji Live.

Mahendra Chaudhry
CHAUDHRY DOESN'T LIKE IMF REPORT. When IMF reports told of a seriously flawed Fiji economy, not a word from Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, but now when the latest report says the economy is doing well, he has slammed the comments. It seems only bad news is good news for the politician.It seems only bad news is good news for the politician.

The reports also said Fjii needs to boost business confidence by relaxing price controls, increase and give stable access to customary land use,continue to focus on infrastructure upgrades,  and reduce political uncertainty.

Dr Jiko Luveni
conveyed by Dr Jiko Luveni, Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, at a recent book launch on financial education and management. "Micro financing," she said, " is one of the key strategies adopted by the Government to tackle poverty in Fiji. Microfinance can help the poor to increase income, build viable businesses and generate job opportunities to name a few. It can also be a powerful instrument for self-empowerment by enabling women to drive efforts to elevate the financial status of their families."So what are the advantages of having this educational tool?

VOTERS NOT PARTIES RULE.  A summary of Prof Jonathon Fraenkel's views on the proposed voting system.

FIJI MAY PRODUCE ETHANOL. The Fiji Sugar Corporation is awaiting recommendations from Brazil on its initial feasibility study for ethanol production in the country. Ethanol, mainly made from sugarcane, is used as a motor fuel and additives, in feedstock, alcoholic beverages, and as an antiseptic or solvent.

WHY THE PIDF AND NOT THE PIF Speaking earlier in the month, PM
 Bainimarama said the newly formed Pacific Islands Development Forum would help to "bolster relationships between the island countries and allow dialogue to
PM Bainimarama
work out their problems without external interference." The PM said that Fiji’s problem with the Pacific Islands Forum* was Australia’s and New Zealand’s domination and that they largely set the agendas. "They have a number of Polynesian countries in their back pockets  ... Fiji was not interested in coming back [to the Forum] because it wanted a new regional structure without the Aussies and the Kiwis. This new body would allow members to find solutions to their own problems, not solutions prescribed by their larger neighbours." [The issue of ANZ full membership in Pacific Islands regional organizations dates back over 40 years. The Islands need their expertise but as friends and partners, not as father figures.--Ed.]

Bainimarama is, however, hopeful that relations with Australia (and NZ) will improve after the 2014 elections.

“I can tell you that if I win the election, we can rebuild the relationships but it won’t be the same relationship. It won’t be Fiji kow-towing to Canberra.” He said Fiji wanted a genuine partnership with genuine friends – governments that treated Fiji as equals and with respect.

“We might be small but our vote at the UN has the same weight as Australia’s and anyone else who isn’t one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.“A good relationship with Australia will only come when there’s a change in the mindset of Australia’s ruling politicians.”

Meanwhile, in another interview, he said Fiji will not accept an Australian High Commissioner until "the Australian government stops trying to damage us, They’ve tried to damage us at the United Nations; to get our peacekeepers sacked; [and they have] stopped us getting loans from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank." He stressed that Fiji had no problem with the Australia people, but with the Australian government because they don’t treat Fiji with consideration and respect.

* [The Pacific Islands Forum meets in Majuro, Marshall Islands, this week.]


Anonymous said…
This junta constitution is not based on genuine consultation and has no mandate. It has been imposed on the Fijian people under duress and by intimidation. It is a constitution under the gun. The very process makes it irrelevant. When the military returns to professional and courageous leadership, and withdraws its support for the treasonous junta, those behind it would be rounded up and brought to justice before afternoon tea. The perpetrators know this. And so do the military. Watch the space old boy.
Nikhil Naidu said…
Nice dream Anonymous but dream is dream my boy! Do some homework and go through the Constitution. If you really want to debate it, post the negative parts of the Constitution rather then giving a lecture or advice to the Military Force.

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