QUICK ROUNDUP Thursday 19 September 2013
Mahendra Chaudhry's trial for failing to declare accounts to the Reserve Bank, a foreign exchange violation, has been scheduled for next year. His lawyer asked for "recusal" High Court judge Paul Madigan on the grounds that the judge had socialised with some public prosecution officials. Judge Madigan refused the recusals and set the trail for 20 January. A guilty decision could affect Chaudhry's election prospects.
Abuse of office. The work of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) continues with the conviction of former Audio Visual Commission CEO Taniela Bolea on several several changes of abuses of office between 2004 and 2007. But Bolea's "whereabouts are unknown."
Australian aid cut. The centre-right Abbott government lost no time in cutting its aid programme, and AusAID looks set to be absorbed by DFAT. This is a move similar to NZ. When the centre-right Key government was election, NZAID was absorbed into the MFAT. As a USP academic observed, "NZ punches above its weight in exporting bad policy advice."
The result will see less aid for Pacific Island Nations but this could be a blessing in disguise. Like Fiji, they may need to look for other donors, and less dependence on ANZ aid could stimulate local economies, promote more intra-regional co-operation, and see the emergence of foreign policies less influenced by their 'big brothers.'
There have been no further statements by the UFDF or its constituent parties, or by government, of a political nature.
Non-political news includes:
- HEP for Taveuni. Work is about to start on hydro-electric power for Taveuni by Chinese contractors. The work is expected to take 18 months.
- Methodists and Kava. The new Methodist President Rev. Dr Tuikilkila Wagairatu has banned smoking and the drinking of yaqona (kava) on Church premises, informed the wives of ministers they should not drink yaqona at all, and urged ministers to show restraint.
- The image of Iliesa Delana, the Fiji paralympic gold medallist, is on the new 50 cent coins.
- Bagasse is the fibrous pulp left after the juice has been extracted from sugar cane. The FSC has obtained a $19m loan from the Fiji Development Bank to fund a project that will see bagasse used to produce electricity at the Labasa mill.
- MIDA. Matui Akauola, the Pacific Islands News Agency (PINA) manager has been appointed director of the Media Industry Development Authority that was set up by Government to improve standards in Fiji's media industry.
- Reserve Bank Governor Barry Whiteside says the domestic investment sector is showing "strong potential growth." Not quite sure what this means. Is it growing or is it showing signs that it might soon be growing?