April 23, 2010

Panic! Alarm! Woe Are We! Poverty in Fiji Up by 45%

If you read the news yesterday and were duly shocked by the alarming poverty rate, your reaction is probably just what the illegal and treasonous military regime were hoping for.

Think about it.

All along the regime and their supporters have been lying through their teeth painting a picture that all is dandy on the economic front (which btw was recently roundly rebuffed by ADB, resulting in a red-faced about-turn by the Central Bank chief who conveniently blamed the elements), and suddenly they hold a workshop and publicly release UNCENSORED figures claiming that almost half of the populace live on less than USD$1/day?

[Memo to the International Community: Many Pacific Islanders live quite happily on less than USD$1/day and are far healthier and much happier than their rural and western kin. That's because they eat from the land and sea, they're off the grid so they don't have to worry about bills and they know they can rely on relatives who live by the monetary economy to pitch in when they can. It is also the reason that many Pacific Islanders continue to make treks back to their motherland, re-enjoy the island life and forget about their western reliance on all things dollar related.]

Already this announcement has made Australian news.

The Fiji Council of Social Services now claims the poverty rate is more like 60%

So why is the regime conceding to statements that during their illegal tenure, poverty has skyrocketted upwards from a 32% that was determined in 2007. And again, this is Uncensored.

Here's our theory. It's all part of the "panic! alarm! woe are we!" reaction that they hope to accompany our IMF loan application.

According to the IMF press statement upon the end of the recent mission to Fiji:
"The IMF looks forward to the possibility of making further progress toward these ends in the coming months that would ensure external stability and help catalyze donor support for Fiji’s reform efforts.”
So by saying that 45% or 60% of Fiji's populace lives on less than USD$1/day that could perhaps CATALYZE donor governments into releasing their dosh to fund our reforms.

We seem to recall that not too long ago the World Bank had released a statement confirming Fiji's economic turn-around.

So why the conflicting signals and statements?

It's a ploy y'all!

And with all the hype about "land reforms" this will undoubtedly be a key "conditionality" of the granting of a loan from the IMF.

We can thereby expect the hype linking poverty alleviation to land reforms to be spun about "reforming land tenures WILL alleviate poverty" -- or words to that effect.

Note Bainimarama's words:
“Issues pertaining to the ailing sugar industry can only be addressed in a meaningful way if more land is available for productive use on long and secure tenure basis".

So 99 year native leases are not "long and secure" enough? 

Already there have been UNCENSORED media reports of cane farmers working their guts out so that their next generation get out of farming. This is one of the reasons why the University of Fiji set up shop in the Western division, to make higher education more accessible (and affordable) for kids from the cane farming community primarily.

The fact of the matter is that international banks such as the IMF (and the Forum Secretariat for the record - check out "Land Management and Conflict Minimisation Guiding Principles" on page 18) are promoting ideals where traditionally owned land needs to give way to more market-driven principles. 

The only way in which to follow a truly commercial endeavour utilising communally owned land is when you can use it as collateral to support  your business. However for native owned land which is communally owned (ie it does not and can not be owned by an INDIVIDUAL), this is virtually impossible.

So what needs to happen? You reform land laws and erode control from the traditional community and promote individualism. 

For Fijians it will be a long hard battle, but as is already evident when they regime wants something they're not going to wait. Evidently they have no qualms about overstepping the Native Lands Trust Board and acting outside the Native Land laws.

To understand more, read the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins, and watch the youtube interview of Perkins on Al Jazeera:


Tim said...

"Issues pertaining to the ailing sugar industry can only be addressed in a meaningful way if more land is available for productive use on long and secure tenure basis".
Are you sure they were Frank's words?
They seem a bit Bubba or Samy like to me. Did he have the benefit of an autocue when he delivered them? or was is following a morning of rehearsals.

Anonymous said...

IMF Gang wants your LAND, TIMBER, TOURIST $, and FISH They don't want you except as Slaves, World bankers are not nice people, check out what happened to other small countries that got IMF loans. RFMF have the guns (power) to keep you in place.

Anonymous said...

I'm a journalist at a community newspaper in NZ. Being world press freedom day, I'm keen to know if there were, or are, any community newspapers in Fiji. What are/were their names? When did they cease publication?
My email is star@alliedpress.co.nz
All power to you and your blog.
Kind regards,