News and Comments Friday 15 November 2013
- Allen Lockington Column
- Price Waterhouse Cooper's detailed commentary on the Budget
- Wadan Narsey on the Budget
- Nazhaat Shameen on the CCF Critique of the Constitution
A NEW ACRONYM has joined the already long list of Fijian acronyms. OLPC or One Laptop Per Child. Minister for Education Filipe Bole launched the OLPC programme and the school’s new computer lab, the ‘Greeno Room’. at the Assemblies of God Primary School in Kinoya yesterday. More than 18 primary schools are now using the OLPC programme, and the new budget approved $800,000 for the OLPC programme next year.
NORTHERN DIVISION ROADS THE WORST. Fiji Roads Authority CEO says road maintenance in the North will cost $25m a year. NZ's Fulton Hogan Highway are the new contractors in the Northern Division following Blacktop Construction Ltd, another NZ company, being put into dreceivership two months ago, leaving a trail of bad debts. FRA has no legal responsibility for these debts but Government has decided to assist Blacktop’s unsecured creditors, especially the small suppliers.
KAI VANUATU. Descendants of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu whose forefathers were brought to work on copra plantations have long been a neglected underclass in Fiji, despite their mothers being ethnic Fijians. A month ago the President visited the Kai Solomoni settlements in Wailoku. More recently he visited the Kai Vanuatu settlement of Caqiri in Valelevu, where, for the first time, it was make clear that they had the same right as all other communities including the i-Taukei to call Fiji their home and make a living here. Community spokesman, Ruben Takona, said many petitions had written by the community in the past but they fell on deaf ears, which was why many of them had become “shy” in seeking Government assistance. “Not only is this the first time the head of state is visiting the descendant community but it was a huge moment of relief when we were assured that we are all Fijians,” he said. Issues raised during the talanoa included land, access to proper amenities provided by municipal councils and assistance to their children in the form of scholarships.
LOMAIVAITI NEWS. Some 17,000 people live in Lomaivaiti, the island province that includes Ovalau, Gau, Koro and five other islands. Recent developments and news includes:
The launch of the new $70,000 boat, "Eastern Division 1", that will enhance government’s service delivery to the Lau and Lomaiviti provinces (that with Rotuma and Kadavu) comprise the Eastern Division. Other Lomaiviti development will include the upgrading of roads, a new jetty and further electrification on Ovalau, and seaweed farming in Gau, Batiki, Nairai and Moturiki. Future plans include further agricultural projects and rural electrification, and water supply and sewerage projects for Ovalau, Nairai, Batiki and Moturiki.
LEPTOSPIROSIS AND DENGUE OUTBREAK "A DISASTER", http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/15384/disease-outbreak-disaster-ministry-of-health according to Health inspector Rakesh Ram. The outbreak in rural parts of Ba province affected some 3,000 residents of Vatusui, Nukuloa back road, part of Balevuto, Nacaci and Moto. Blood samples 134 people showed very high counts of bacteria. So far there have been 21 confirmed cases of leptospirosis and 46 of dengue fever. The situation is being closely monitored. Health authorities have ordered the closure of a private dam that supplies water to about 400 households in the area. Community leaders are assisting government agencies to distribute safe drinking water to the communities and create awareness in the affected settlements.
"OUTRAGEOUS" LIVESTOCK FOOD PRICES. A 250% difference between the price paid by livestock owners pay for mill mix in towns and remote areas is "not on", http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/15391/high-mill-mix-prices-a-concern according to Fiji Crop and Livestock Council CEO Lavenia Kaumaitotoya.
NEW FACEBOOK PAGE FOR YOUTH. https://www.facebook.com/vodafonemyouthfiji
GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO ACT QUICKLY. A decision by Veiuto Primary School that it will be asking parents to front up with $250 a child by 19 December to re-enrol their children for next year (and only refund parents when the school receives the money from the Ministry of Education) is a reminder than the Budget promise of free education for primary and secondary schools needs to be acted upon promptly. As one FEF blogger put it: "pray that the government addresses these issues quickly to help maintain the confidence of our people particularly with Xmas around the corner."
SODELPA RESPONSE TO THE BUDGET. I will publish something on this early next week.