October 30, 2009

Bainimarama Angles to Coup the Forum Secretariat

This is what happens when a treasonous, illegal individual resides in the neighborhood that is the Pacific. He will always want to bring the whole neighborhood down with him.

When he knows he can't win with Aust and NZ around to keep him honest, he aims to coup the Pacific Islands Forum and create another one.

You can listen to him making a total jack-ass of himself (as usual) here.

Fiji PM says Pacific grouping to strengthen
Updated 1 hour 26 minutes ago

Fiji's interim Prime Minister says he is being encouraged by some Pacific Island Forum nations to include them in next year's Melanasian Spearhead Group meeting. It is Fiji's turn to chair the MSG next year, and it is considering giving observer status to some island nations outside the group to enable them to attend the meeting.

Traditionally MSG membership is restricted to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. But since Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth, Fiji is barred from meetings such as PACER Plus.

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama says Fiji's needs a forum to discuss issues of common interest to the whole region.

October 29, 2009

Hail to the Illegal "Commander In Chief"

Nailatikau is today announced by the junta's pet media outlet as President of Fiji. Woopeedoo.

The appointment, as the majority of people in this country are only too aware, is illegal because it's not in line with the constitution.

As Tui Savu points out, that makes Nailatikau as Commander in Chief very powerful because the new Land Force Commander, Roko Ului, is his brother-in-law.

Col Driti, Bainimarama's key hatchet man is being sent away to the front-lines of Iraq. Which is a good thing in a way.

Being hung out to dry there can only remind him that his military training is supposed to be used against other combatants and certainly not women and children.

Eyes will be peeled to find out who will outflank who in this new twist.

October 28, 2009

Fiji Water: Busted Again!

Fiji Water's brand gets hammered again by Mother Jones.

This time its in relation to how they dispose of their rubbish.

Let this be a lesson to all those businesses falsely riding the public relations bandwagon of all that is green, fair and "good practice". You will be found out.

Fiji Water Burning Trash?
— By Taylor Wiles | Mon October 26, 2009 4:20 PM PST

In the wake of Mother Jones's recent Fiji Water expose that tackled the company's indifference to the country's military junta and the surrounding communities' dire lack of clean drinking water, we received many letters. One in particular caught our attention. In 2007 Mary Ackley, then a graduate student at the University of Vermont, was doing research on the Vatukoula gold mine in Fiji when she saw yet another piece of the story.

On one of Ackley's trips to visit the Vatukoula mine, located about 18 miles from Fiji Water's bottling plant, she saw makeshift fences made of oversized spools of Fiji Water labels. Then she saw huge plumes of smoke rising from the local dump. When Ackley looked closer she noticed piles of discarded Fiji Water bottles, reels of company labels, and plastic pellets used to make the bottles. It looked like too much trash to be generated by the small town, so Ackley started asking around. Sure enough, residents who lived next to the dump said they had seen Fiji Water trucks pass by three or four times a week since about 1996, when the company first started operations.

But that was back in 2007. Last year, Fiji Water representative Rob Six told Ackley in a written letter that the company had been phasing out the use of the dump since June 2007. Apparently, as of last fall, the company stopped burning trash there all together. Nevertheless, asthma rates in Vatukoula are through the roof—which the community told Ackley is likely a result of gold mining operations, as well as carcinogens released by constantly smoldering Fiji Water trash over the past decade. Ackley's surveys showed that the number one concern in the community was respiratory problems caused by airborne carcinogens. It remains to be seen how Fiji Green will address the damage done.

This year Ackley and filmmaker Kristian Maynard released a short documentary in which they narrate their discovery of the Vatukoula dump and explore the gold mining's horrific effects on Fijian health. Last weekend, it won an award at the Yosemite International Film Festival.

Check out the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25UvOG6uP-0

October 27, 2009

Punjas Lambasts Govt Policies

Well this certainly was a long time coming i.e. a business house finally laying into the Govt.

And to be honest, it's not exactly unexpected.

When their back-pockets take a socking it's ON. But when it's our pockets, ho-hum.

With Budget Day only day's away, the tunes they sing after the announcement should be entertaining.

Punja blames govt policies for $6.4m loss
October 27, 2009 01:48:22 PM

Leading Fiji business figure Hari Punja has blamed State price control measures and what he says were arbitrary government decisions on duties and import policies for a $6.435 million annual loss suffered by the Flour Mills of Fiji Group, of which he is chairman.

Group chairman Hari Punja has described the loss for the 2009 financial year as “significant”, following a group before tax profit of $6,526,720 in 2008.

“The principal cause of this loss is the unfair treatment we continue to receive from the Prices and Income Board (PIB) and the arbitrary decisions of government in regard to duties and import policies,” said Punja in the group’s annual report.

He said the results were also affected by having to write off the value of the group’s rice milling assets and its discontinued water business.

“In the first half of the year we were constantly battling to have the price of our flour and rice adjusted in accordance with rising world prices. The constant delays in approving price adjustments by PIB resulted in mounting losses. This situation was then exacerbated following the devaluation of the Fiji dollar by the Reserve Bank. Overnight the cost of our raw materials increased by more than 20 percent and we were not able to pass on this increased cost for a considerable period, during which the group was incurring a loss of more than $ 1 million per month,” Punja said.

“Also during the year the government decided to arbitrarily reduce import duty on white rice from 15 percent to zero. There was no prior consultation and as a consequence we were in the unfortunate position of having to honor forward contracts for brown rice at a considerable loss.”

As a result, FMF Group subsidiary, the Rice Company of Fiji, has reported a loss $113,182 this year, down from an after tax profit of $2,164,375 last year.

Punja has called on the government to make policy and duty changes which affect local manufacturers only after consultation and with a reasonable period of adjustment.

He said the group had repositioned its subsidiary Rice Company to deal with the new import policy. However in the process they had stopped milling brown rice resulting in loss of jobs and a write off of machinery values.

“If it was the government’s intention to lower the consumer price of rice then they have failed. The lower price of rice which the consumers of Fiji are enjoying now is the result of low international prices and not because of the change in duty structure of rice.”

“On the other hand, these actions have resulted into government losing a considerable amount of revenue and making it almost impossible for local rice farmers and millers to survive.”

“These arbitrary decisions of government both present and past have been a constant frustration for us and other manufacturers,” said Punja.

He said the group had seen a very healthy growth in exports of biscuits and other products which stood at the $50 million mark this year and were expected to grow to $60 million in the coming year.

Punja said as operations were stabilised in the past few months and products and activities rationalised, improvements had flown through from these decisions and the company and its subsidiaries had recorded a reasonable profit in each of the first three months of the new financial year “and we expect this to continue for the rest of the year”.

For the 2009 financial year ending in June, another FM subsidiary, the Atlantic and Pacific Packaging Company Ltd’s profit after tax increased from $237,858 to $560,956 while turnover increased from $5.788 million to a record $7.108 million.