March 26, 2011

The Sugar vs Tourism Spat

Illegal and treasonous (and non-meritoriously appointed) Permanent Secretaries of Tourism and Sugar have gottten personal and taken their territorial "I'm bigger than you (nah-nah-nah-nah-nah)" spat to the public domain.

It is an apparent display of juvenile shamelessness  to score their various "teachers pet" approval.

Elizabeth Powell, BFF to Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum picked a fight to back her self-promotion with this statement:
Tourism may replace sugar as economic backbone
Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Tourism Industry could surpass the Sugar Industry to become the backbone of Fiji’s economy says the permanent secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell.

The two industries have been major players in Fiji’s economy over the past decades but the sugar industry has been severely disrupted with mill upgrade failures and low production.

Tourism provides employment directly and indirectly to approximately 63,000 people or 25% of total employment - and in 10 years its contribution to Fiji’s GDP is expected to approach 40%.

Powell says this trend expected to continue.

“Tourism is definitely going to be a major component of Fiji’s economy and a major employer for our people well into the future. Whether or not it surpasses the contribution of sugar and when that may happen, it is possible although we need to be sure that we maintain as much diversity in our economy as we can.”

Questions have been raised on the livelihood of the over 200,000 people who depend on the sugar industry - with government allocating $123m this year for its revival.

Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says a significant number of people rely on sugar for their livelihood and government will do all it can to ensure the industry survives.

Report by: Roland Koroi

Col Manasa Vaniqi, an inner circle member of Bainimarama, in an attempt not to be outshone reciprocated with his response:
Fiji sugar is here to stay: Vaniqi
Friday, March 25, 2011

The Sugar industry has been around for more then 100 years and is here to stay says Sugar Ministry Permanent Secretary – Manasa Vaniqi.

Vaniqi was responding to suggestions that the industry may be replaced as the backbone of Fiji’s economy.

“But we need to go back to the history – sugar has been the backbone of the economy and for your information there is not a single industry even now that rakes in millions like sugar. When we talk about tourism with all due respect – but the dollar retention value practically - quite a lot are still going overseas. But for sugar it’s all dollar returns. We are putting in place the necessary mechanisms and on top of that the Prime Minister has said that sugar is here to stay so we will see that it is here to stay.”

Government has set aside $123m for the revival of the sugar industry in this year’s budget.

Report by: Ritika Pratap

March 25, 2011

More civil service job cuts on the horizon

Reckless spending and feckless policies by the illegal and treasonous military regime are now coming home to roost with more civil service job losses on the horizon.

While we feel for civil service and the uncertainty and low morale that will inevitably accompany this news, the tinkering around the empty coffers will be an exercise in futility.

Sadly for the taxpayers, the coup-backing Parmesh Chand and his never-ending endeavour to cull the civil service workforce (by 10% is a figure that we know Chand wants), they are targetting the exact government service divisions that citizens depend on the most - health, education and public works.

Even if health, education and public works are the most personnel-heavy divisions of the civil service, it is intended that way in order for them to provide the services that taxpayers require (and pay for). 

Culling their numbers ultimately means that these services will deteriorate even more. 
5 government ministries to be down-sized
Friday, March 25, 2011

A study is being carried out on five government ministries as part of reforms says Public Service permanent secretary – Parmesh Chand.

Chand says the study is in its final stages and work on reforms will commence in the next quarter.

“So this study will come up with a number of findings and recommendations in terms of streamlining, rationalisation and right sizing and that itself will give us lot of work to do in terms of right sizing and reforms.”

Ministries under review are Health, Education, Public Works, Agriculture and Fisheries and Forest.

Report by: Ritika Pratap

Gay Rights in Fiji supersede all other Rights

Penelope Moore, the head honcho of the NGO Women's Action for Change, would be happy.

She now has her pound of flesh for signing her credibility away to support an illegal and treasonous regime and killing the 1987 Constitution via their utopian Charter.

Unfortunately for Penelope, it fails to register that the respect for gay rights does not exist in a vaccuum and gay rights cannot be respected if FUNDAMENTAL human rights are not respected first.

Whatever and however they try and colour their attempts, this military regime does not respect human rights, and this development is a mere paper approval that will mean NOTHING on the ground.

We restate again for the record that we have no quarrel with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) individuals as we see them as human beings first and foremost, but all rights (including LGBT rights) were more than adequately enshrined in the 1987 Constitution which she and others of her ilk, are now proceeding to make defunct without due process and oversight by democratically elected representatives of the people .
Fiji signs joint UN statement, NGO happy
Serelisoni Moceica
Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiji and 84 other countries recently released a joint statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on "Ending Acts on Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity".

Local non-government organisation, Women's Action for Change director Peni Moore said her organisation was pleased with the action taken by the Government.

"For those of us who've been working in this area for a long time, it gave us great pride to see what the Government has done," said Mrs Moore.

She said she was honoured to be a member of one of the first Pacific island countries that was a signatory to the statement.

A statement released by the American Embassy yesterday confirmed the statement included expressions of concern on the continued evidence in every region on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the event stressed a commitment by the US to human rights through dialogue, open discussion and frank conversation, according to a statement yesterday.

"Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," Mrs Clinton said.

Vanuatu Opposition tells Vanuatu to withdraw from MSG because of Bainimarma

Another one we saw coming.

The illegal and treasonous Bainimarama just creates havoc, disarray, fragmentation, confusion and a complete disregard for the rule of law wherever he casts his eye.
Vanuatu told it should consider pulling out of MSG now Fiji’s Bainimarama heads the body
Posted at 22:46 on 24 March, 2011 UTC

Vanuatu’s opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says the country should reconsider its membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Last year, when Mr Natapei was Vanuatu’s leader, he was involved in an acrimonious spat with the interim prime minister of Fiji, Commodore Frank Bainimarama after cancelling an MSG summit scheduled to be held in Fiji.

Mr Natapei was concerned that handing the chairmanship to an unelected leader undermined the democratic values of the MSG.

Since then Commodore Bainimarama has got the job and is set to chair a summit next week, but Mr Natapei is warning Vanuatu should distance itself from the military regime in Fiji.

“We have to make up our minds what whether or not we value democracy or not. Vanuatu should consider seriously whether or not we should be participating in the MSG now that it’s chaired by a non-democratically elected government.”

Bainimarama overturns his "please call me" policy

Once again, more entertaining gaff material for the public.

Only day's ago, the invitation to Nakalawaca in Tailevu to contact the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama and lodge complaints on naughty civil servants, was extended to the greater public through FBC's news report.

And in a complete about-turn now that the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama has just figured out what a bad idea THAT was, his minions (the very same folks you CAN complain about) have suggested that the public should txt or email instead.

The spin piece lauds the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama as the first Prime Minister
 in the country to make such a move. We'd like to suggest that he would probably be the first IDIOT (and pretend) Prime Minister on the planet who has ever revealed his direct cell phone details to the public at large.

What the minions (and Bainimarama himself) do not want the public to know is that he is in presently in Hong Kong to watch the 7's and the mere roaming charges for these calls (as well as the inconvenience when he's watching rugby), would probably bust his and the whole Government's communications budget.

By now revealing his email address, he has just opened himself up to another risk - that of email hacking and/or an email swarm.
Hold calls to PM for now
Friday, March 25, 2011

The Prime Minister’s Office has asked people to hold off their calls to the PM at the moment as he is away overseas – but they are free to text or email the office with any issues they need to raise.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama released his phone number to the public this week – the first Prime Minister in the country to ever do so – and received an overwhelming number of calls from people wanting to communicate their concerns directly with him.

People have largely wanted to raise concerns on the performance of civil servants and government departments as well as issues directly affecting their lives.

The PM’s Office says people can text their issues to 01 or email and three senior officers are on stand-by to address their concerns.

Report by: Stanley Simpson

March 24, 2011

Inoke Kubuabola attempts to face-save on West Papua issue

Predictable as ever, the illegal and treasonous Inoke Kubuabola JUST manages to avoid egg on his face in fronting up to our Melanesian guests on the West Papua and MSG issue.

Meanwhile one of the military regime's staunchest academic allies, Dr Steven Ratuva, suprisingly echoed our views and used public amplifiers to caution the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama to ease off on his swaggering and put the MSG first.
MSG nations feel for West Papua
Ministry of Information
Mar 23 |19:26 pm

The Melanesia Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua says MSG Foreign Ministers meeting chairman Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

The Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation made the comments as the MSG Trade and Economic officials meeting kick-started the 18th MSG Summit in Suva.  

He refuted claims, the MSG had received a request for full membership from the Australia West Papua Association.

“We are all Melanesians but I can confirm that the MSG has not received anything in writing calling for West Papua’s inclusion as a full member. We will wait for other leaders and should anything come up, the leaders will discuss on it,” he said.

As far as the MSG is concerned the issue was mere speculation by the media.

Foreign media reports said an NGO, the Australia West Papua Association, has written an open letter to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, calling for full membership of the agency to be extended to the people of the Papua region of Indonesia.

The MSG include Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Kanak grouping from New Caledonia.


March 22, 2011

Call Bainimarama

This article reads like a bad joke and it would be so funny if it weren't so tragic.

Ironically it reeks of desperation of an individual so desperate for validation, that he as self-proclaimed Prime Minister of Fiji, is willing to prostitute his cellular phone details (national security risks be damned) just to hear complaints about civil servants.

Meanwhile the Public Service Commission that is supposed to managing all civil servants is probably in the dark (as per usual). 

Interestingly the unions that civil servants join, like the Fiji Public Service Association has been sub-par thus far in effectively protecting the interests of their members.

This latest gaff is exactly like those desperado signs that say "call me for a good time".

Call me or text me says PM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says the public can call him or text him if they are not happy with the services being provided to them by a civil servant or government department.

Speaking to the people of Nakalawaca in Tailevu, Bainimarama says people can call him on 9905798 or text him on 01 if they believe civil servants are not delivering to the best of their ability.

He says three of his senior military officers are on standby for such complaints and all texts that come through on 01 will be received by them.

Bainimarama says civil servants today should be providing the best services ever - and if a civil servant cannot provide their best to the people they will be removed.

Report by: Apisalome Coka

Nazhat Shameem continues to milk taxpayers funds dry

Even as the economy teeters and the sugar industry is dying, the illegal and treasonous military regime can still find the cash to pay overnight governance expert, Nazhat Shameem, (herself a coup collaborator) to tell her military posse how to do governance.

Never mind that the civil service can get this training FREE from the UN or NGOs or that the Public Service Commission's (PSC) training arm is well placed to do it OR that the Training and Productivity Authority (TPAF) has the full competence to provide it.

It certainly is very telling that Naupoto is waxing lyrical about the training she provides, as a "necessary" deterrent to corruption.

The very definition of good governance is characterized by values that the military regime and their supporters continue to trample on. So there's no bang for the buck there we're afraid.
Naupoto applauds training program
Mary Rauto
Thursday, March 17, 2011

THE training program for permanent secretaries has been described as beneficial.

Fisheries and Forests permanent secretary Viliame Naupoto said a session on governance with former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem was necessary.

"It is to ensure the work relationship in your ministry from the minister right down to the bottom is correct and allows for good governance," he said.

"Practising good governance deters corrupt activities.

"There are enough examples around where good governance was missing, resulting in corruption."

Mr Naupoto said last week's program discussed project governance.

"Project governance ensures there is value for money," he said.

"It is very relevant for my ministry.

"I sat with some of my staff trying to adopt some of the things we've learnt.

"I think the big learning thing is that we should not only use the resources given but that these resources be used to maximum value.

"The course provided tools to do it and I think it is what we need right now."

March 17, 2011

Bainimarama stuffs up Melanesian Alliance

This is probably the reason why the now deposed Prime Minister of Vanuatu resisted Fiji's muscling in of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Chairmanship in the first place.

Not discounting the fact that the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama is utterly clueless in how politics (and regional Melanesian politics in particular) works, by inviting Indonesia to attend the meeting after being won over by their soft diplomacy, he has incurred the wrath of West Papuans.

The presence of Luxembourg at this grand Melanesian economic shindig should prove interesting also. 

Bainimarama's recent antics may therefore derail any attempts at economic unification such as that proposed by the Solomon Islands.

Whatever happens, the Melanesians should heed the benefit of their experience when dealing with Bainimarama.

If he cannot prove his loyalty to the people of Fiji by trashing the laws of this country, there is no guarantee that he will prove his loyalty to the MSG either -- because five years down the line, the people of Fiji know that it is almost always about him.
Fiji’s Bainimamara hails MSG summit as new beginning
Posted at 01:45 on 16 March, 2011 UTC

The interim Fiji leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the participation of three new countries in this month’s Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in Fiji signals a new beginning for the sub-regional body.

Commodore Bainimarama, who is the chair of the MSG, has welcomed the involvement of East Timor, Indonesia and Luxembourg in the meeting.

Fiji was due to host the summit last July but the then chair Vanuatu’s prime minister, Edward Natapei, cancelled the meeting, raising concerns about an unelected leader assuming the chair of the organisation.

Mr Natapei said that this would have threatened the fundamental democratic principles of the MSG.

When Mr Natapei was voted out of office late last year the path was cleared for Commodore Bainimarama to become chair.

The Fiji Sun reports that Indonesia and East Timor will be participating as observers this year while a representative from Luxembourg will attend as a special guest.

The meetings officially start next Wednesday when trade officials hold talks, with the leaders’ summit scheduled for March the 31st at the Vale ni Bose complex in Suva.

March 15, 2011

Military regime pushes "public relations" campaign

Could the illegal and treasonous military regime's antics get any more predictable or lame?

The exposure campaign must be getting them agitated somewhat, especially after public uncensored confirmation of their human rights abuses has bought them under the global spotlight once again.
Soldiers reachout to elderly and disadvantaged
Maneesha Karan
Monday, March 14, 2011

ABOUT 50 military personnel from Sukunaivalu Barracks conducted cleaning campaigns at three venues in Labasa on Saturday.

The soldiers visited the senior citizens home Babasiga Ashram, the School for Special Children and at the Labasa court house.

Sergeant Iosefa Taione said such activities helped create a healthy relationship between the military force and the community.

"We have come forth to help the community which we believe will create a good relationship and trust with the people," Sgt Taione said.

"There are teams of personnel dispersed at different areas.

"The cleaning activity will be followed by our military training."

The teams were engaged in weeding of the cassava patch, flower garden, clearing bushes and husking coconuts.

"We are here only to conduct the cleaning campaign and hope the elderly get the message that we care about them.

"The residents will see us working at their home and we hope they appreciate our efforts," Sgt Taione said.

Banks in Fiji under consumer watch-dog scrutiny

Once again. Lest there are any further fanciful notions that commercial bank ANZ's role in the second bond floating was out of the goodness of it's heart, think again.

It's ALL ABOUT the bottom-line folks. Their's.

And the Consumer Council's findings could not have made this point at a better time.

What IS missing in the debate is a way out of the con. So consumers let your money do the talking and take your money and your business to institutions that protect your interests and that actively displays credible ethics and corporate social responsibility.

(Note: can you believe that ANZ actually had a 2010 target of implementing a "human rights" statement across the business? Big FAIL on that front guys).
Fiji banks criticized in report
Monday, March 14, 2011

Banks in Fiji are making excessive profit and charge unreasonably high prices for their services a report on the banking services in Fiji has found.

The report by the Consumer Council of Fiji titled ‘Banking Services in Fiji: From a Consumers’ Perspective’ - accuses the country’s four banks of being uncompetitive and charging significantly higher prices for their services and products than the same banks in Australia and New Zealand.

According to the report – what the two main banks ANZ and Westpac earn from interest, fees, charges and Commissions – calculated as a percentage of their assets – is much higher than what these banks earn in Australia.

Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar has called for immediate action to rectify the quality of bank services in the country.

“What needs to be put in place is a legislation that will curb this excessive profiting. While the RBF is undertaking prudent management but that is only to protect the banks so they continue making profit and do not become bankrupt. But what about the individual consumers? They are not protected at all.”

Association of Banks in Fiji Executive Secretary Rasiklal Jogia says he will make a comment after scrutinising the report.

The bank report will be launched today as the country marks World Consumer Rights day.

You can also join Kurt Petersen at 1 pm today for a talk-back show with Premila Kumar on Gold FM.

Report by: Stanley Simpson

March 12, 2011

Standard & Poor's ratings on our $US250mill bond

In case you thought that our views as well as Prof Wadan's Narsey's were way off the mark, think again.

Standard & Poor's recent rating on Fiji's second bond float, as well as an assessment of our recovery rating all point to the same thing: the need to return to democratic rule ASAP.

And so right now in light of this, we're wondering if the ANZ head honcho, Norman Wilson, in "winning over" the illegal and treasonous military regime, is being leaned on by his head office to explain how ANZ's reputation could be associated with the backing of such a shoddy deal.
Fiji US$250 Million Bond Assigned ‘B-’ Rating; Recovery Rating ‘4’

Melbourne, March 11, 2011—Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it has assigned its 'B-' long-term senior unsecured debt rating to the US$250 million five-year bond issued by the Republic of Fiji (foreign currency B-/Positive/C, local currency B/Stable/C). This bond issue replaces the US$150 million notes that are due to mature on Sept. 13, 2011, and are expected to fund capital works.

At the same time, Standard & Poor's assigned a recovery rating of '4' to the bond. This is in line with our policy to provide our estimates of likely recovery of principle in the event of debt restructuring or a debt default for issuers with a speculative-grade rating. A recovery rating of '4' indicates our expectation of a 30%-50% recovery in the event of a payment default. According to our criteria, bonds with a '4' recovery rating are rated on par with the issuer credit rating. We have therefore equalized the rating on Fiji’s bond with the ‘B-’ foreign currency sovereign credit rating.

The issuer credit ratings on Fiji reflect our opinion of the country’s persistent fiscal and current account deficits, as well as deficiencies in available data--a factor that complicates our analysis. These factors are offset, in part, by Fiji’s improved external indicators. The delay in the return to democratic rule in Fiji has already been reflected in the ratings, and our forecasts assume a status quo. However, we believe that diminished institutional transparency and independence, as well as decrees that weigh on civilian and media freedoms, weaken the prospects for investment and for donor re-engagement and thus the nation’s growth prospects.
The positive outlook on Fiji’s foreign currency rating reflects our view of the improvement in Fiji’s external position, including in the level of foreign exchange reserves. An upgrade of the foreign currency rating could follow improvements in one of several areas, including strengthening Fiji’s political institutions, improving donor relations, enhancing growth prospects through labor or market reforms, bettering the external indicators, or placing the government’s debt trajectory on a steady downward slope. On the other hand, Fiji’s ratings could stabilize at current levels if none of these developments materializes or if external or domestic shocks sharply reduce Fiji’s international reserves from current reported levels.

About Standard & Poor’s
Standard & Poor’s, a part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP), is the world’s foremost provider of credit ratings. With offices in 23 countries, Standard & Poor’s is an important part of the world’s financial infrastructure and has played a leading role for 150 years in providing investors with information and independent benchmarks for their  investment and financial decisions. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Sharon Beach, Melbourne, (61) 3 9631 2152,

Primary Credit Analyst:
Kyran Curry, Sovereign Credit Ratings,

Ratings may not be compiled into a database or systematically distributed or shared for commercial purposes in a manner that substitutes for a paid Standard & Poor’s service.

Standard & Poor’s (Australia) Pty. Ltd. holds Australian financial services licence number 337565 under the Corporations Act 2001. Standard & Poor’s credit ratings and related research are not intended for and must not be distributed to any person in Australia other than a wholesale client (as defined in Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act).

March 10, 2011

Professor Wadan Narsey: When failure is called success, while they dig our hole deeper

The Military Government has announced with great fanfare that their “roadshow” in Hong Kong, Singapore and London, had successfully raised F$500 millions in foreign bonds to pay off $300 millions on a foreign bond raised in 2006, with the remaining F$200 millions allegedly being set aside for capital projects (The Fiji Times, 10 March 2011).

Khaiyum claimed with joy “This is a clear indication of the level of confidence that investors in the international market have in Fiji’s economic development and progress, ongoing reforms and future prospects”. What rubbish!

The Permanent Secretary Finance (Waqabaca) said the Government was happy to “showcase” the ANZ bank internationally (really?) for supporting Government in difficult times (but what did ANZ put in, and what will ANZ get?).

Waqabaca, also made many euphoric and supporting statements for the bond conversion (with dubious economic logic).

The Acting Governor of the Reserve Bank (Mr Barry Whiteside) safely noted that foreign reserves will be boosted by the new borrowings, and hopefully suggested that FNPF might even benefit (perhaps, but only for a short while).

All in all, if the media are to be believed, the bond conversion appears to be a great successful WIN-WIN venture for the Khaiyum/Bainimarama Government and Fiji, doesn’t it?

Yes, it is a success for Bainimarama and Khaiyum- because they have managed to pass the buck to the future generations.

And Bainimarama and Khaiyum are digging Fiji’s future generations deeper into the Public Debt hole, with a higher proportion now denoted in very scarce foreign exchange.

While they turned down a less costly but more sensible loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Failure to pay the US$150 million bond
Why did we borrow this F$500 million in the first place?

Because the Military Government was unable to repay the US$150 million bond undertaken in 2006 (whose local value rose to F$300 million after the 2009 devaluation).

Why cannot they repay?

Because the Bainimarama Government refuses to cut recurrent expenditure (and especially the bloated military budget) in order to achieve the level of fiscal surpluses  needed to repay that US$150 million bond.

So the magical Bainimarama/Khaiyum solution for the debt you cannot repay:  borrow again to repay that $300 millions!

AND to make it worse, borrow even more (another US$100 million) so as to pass on an even bigger burden (US$250 million) to the future generations.

But why did this Military Government not borrow the US$150 million (or US$250 million) from IMF at a much lower interest rate?

Because the IMF conditionality would also have required them to reduce their recurrent fiscal expenditure to manageable levels, and probably there were other conditions too difficult for this incompetent regime to implement.

Higher interest, higher public debt, now owed in foreign exchange
How can you call successful, the conversion of a bond which was originally costing us 6.875 percent interest, into a bond now costing us a higher 9% interest?

AND to borrow overseas another US$100 million ($F200 million) also to be repaid at a higher 9% in foreign exchange, when its domestic borrowings from FNPF was at a much lower 6% at the margin?

The repayments on this F$500 million bond will also have to be in foreign exchange, which the Fiji economy has great difficulty in earning.

We may have healthy reserves now, but that is largely a result of the total lack of domestic investment and stagnant domestic incomes and demand.

Our export earnings can only rely on tourism, water, gold and fish exports.

The sugar industry’s net foreign exchange earnings are not only lower because of the destroyed industry, but also because FSC itself owes large amounts overseas, which have now also been shouldered by the Fiji taxpayers (courtesy of the Bainimarama Regime).

With the devalued Fiji dollar, the increase in foreign debt will increase the burdens on tax-payers who are already being squeezed by FIRCA struggling to increase revenues in a stagnant economy, while facing higher inflation.

Should we devalue even more in the future (God forbid), the burden on Fiji’s tax-payers of this US$250 million bond, will be even higher.

False capital investment justification
How misleading of Khaiyum to claim that the extra $200 millions borrowed will not be used for recurrent expenditure but for capital investment.

That statement would have been true, had recurrent expenditure been at the appropriate lower level.

That statement would have been true, had the Military Government not already wasted hundreds of millions in all its badly managed projects such as at FSC and other contingent liabilities which are going to come home to roost, sooner or later.

Make no mistake, the extra $200 million is being borrowed to maintain the bloated Bainimarama Regime’s recurrent budget.

That capital expenditure Khaiyum talks about would have been incurred in normal times, any way.

ANZ and international confidence in Fiji?
Contrary to Khaiyum’s claim, the financing of this bond is not an indicator of broad investor confidence in Fiji.

As the data from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics and RBF clearly show, the Fiji economy has been badly failing the real test of confidence in the economy for the last four years:  private sector investment has been less than 7% of GDP and has dropped to around 3% currently, when it should have been around 15% to 20%.

These bond buyers are merely confident that Fiji has enough foreign reserves to repay the interest and principal when it becomes due.

And the bond buyers are confident that this military dictatorship has enough control of the economy to squeeze the tax-payers for the required amounts, or to simply borrow yet again in the future, should they not have the funds.

What about ANZ?  Of course ANZ has some excellent investment initiatives in Fiji with have much growth potential, such as its call and data-processing centres.

But, ANZ must have made their cut out of this deal? What percentage of the bonds did ANZ buy?

And if Wilson was so confident in the Bainimarama/Khayum management of the Fiji economy, why didn’t ANZ International lend Fiji the whole US$250 million?

Will ANZ now expect future tax and other benefits from a Military Government which was so grateful to have on its “road-show” a multinational bank whose representative “Wilson was able to give its side of the story” on the Fiji economy, and convince the other bond buyers?   

What Fiji story did Wilson indeed give?

The Reserve Bank and FNPF
 Of course, the Reserve Bank will now have some higher reserves, for a few years, until the debt become due again, when it will all go, and they might need even more.

Of course, FNPF might benefit if it is able to invest some of its funds off-shore.  But these funds can be forcibly brought back anytime the Reserve Bank wants.

And any benefits to us FNPF shareholders, will of course, be paid for by all the tax-payers of Fiji (of whom FNPF shareholders are only a part).

The PS euphoria and justification
It is extraordinary that the PS Finance (Waqabaca) is reported to have said that his emotion at the bond sale was “one of elation, we were overjoyed, we were happy with the outcome”.

What?  Happy that after the Bainimarama Government failed to repay the old debt, happy that the public debt and burden on tax-payers was being further increased, happy at the significantly higher interest rate we taxpayers will be paying ?

Waqabaca claimed that they borrowed overseas because they wanted to “avoid a crowding out effect whereby Government does not restrict private sector demand for domestic finance”.

But “crowding out” only occurs if the available domestic finance was already being fully used by the private sector, which might indeed be “crowded out” if  government barged in offering higher interest rates.

The reality has been that domestic investment demand has been so low for five years that the financing institutions (private banks as well as FNPF, FDB and Home Finance) have been desperate to lend their cash to anyone credit-worthy.

As for not wanting to “increase domestic interest rates”- well, were interest rates to rise, the biggest beneficiary may well have been FNPF, which has for decades been a captive lender to Government at low interest rates (much to the private banks’ relief).

While higher domestic interest rates would provide the appropriate discipline on the uncontrolled borrowings by this reckless Military Government.

Civil Servant Coup Collaborators
If Khaiyum and Bainimarama tried to reduce recurrent government expenditure in order to repay the 2006 bond, they would have faced resistance from the civil service and especially the military officers and rank and file whose support has been bought by grossly inflated salaries, promotions, appointments to higher civil service positions, and other perks.

This damaging bond conversion into a bigger Public Debt allows Bainimarama and Khaiyum to avoid the flak that would come from painful fiscal discipline today, while thoroughly enjoying their party in the meantime.

One can therefore expect the public relations spin from Aiyaz Khaiyum who is on a personal fairy-tale roller coaster ride, playing around with hundreds of millions of dollars of Fiji tax-payers’ funds (not his own or his father’s, as Indians say), trotting around the globe at tax-payers’ expense, feted and supported by sycophant prominent members of the business community, who naturally also get the benefits they want.

But Fiji’s tax-payers should not be receiving an unnecessary PR exercise and faulty economics from civil servants like Waqabaca, who ought to know better.

One of the tragic consequences of the Bainimarama coup has been that inexperienced civil servants without any depth of knowledge or experience, have been rapidly pushed up the ladder into enormously powerful positions, where they are easily misused.

In their gratitude to their Masters for the rapid promotion, so many civil servants (mostly indigenous Fijian), have been prepared to enthusiastically spout all the rhetoric and public relations spin, justifying the decisions and policies of this illegal Military Government- whether it is the Pillars of the Charter, the supposed grand electoral reform, or this foreign bond conversion which is going to be so damaging to the future generations.

Assisted by a censored or pliant media, these civil servants also thereby irresponsibly encourage the public to swallow all the spin- hook, line and sinker, and be totally lulled into a false sense of complacency and well-being.

The Fiji “road-show” indeed, goes on, while our future slowly erodes.

March 09, 2011

Aiyaz subsidizes Waila City developers

It's always a pity that Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum's efforts are more disposed towards his style statement rather than what's supposed to be whirring between the ears.

Trying to laud a policy that controls the price of hardware for housing infrastructure, when inflation has just been hiked by revised projections in the central bank, and the economy is stagnant, this too-good-to-be-true directive is indeed just that.

Because if someone is going to be laughing all the way to the bank with 35% reduction on hardware products, it will be his (and Bainimarama's) overnight BFF, Dr Sharifuddin Wahab, formerly of Naim Holdings Berhad, and more commonly known as the Waila City developer.
Hardware prices to boost housing infrastructure
Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The new prices of hardware items under price control comes into effect from the 19th of March will improve the housing infrastructure in Fiji.

Minister for Trade, Industry and Commerce, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the average reduction of 35% in hardware products is significant and will have a huge effect on the housing and building industry in Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the reduction in Hardware prices will not only benefit consumers but hardware suppliers as well.

“We believe that hardware companies now should be more focused on volume based sales as opposed to having huge mark-ups – that’s why price control was brought up at the first place – if we have volume based focus business models that we allow more people to buy more at reasonable prices, it creates a robustness in the economy which is essential – when we have robustness in the economy more people are handling that same money all the time – it creates jobs, it creates sustainability as far as the construction industry is concerned and it benefits everybody including the hardware outlets”

Meanwhile, Commission chairman, Dr Mahendra Reddy says the items brought under price control will vary for different hardware companies.

“The price reduction in the hardware products ranges from zero to 2380% however on the average, the hardware prices will go down by 35% - we are looking at a range of hardware products – it ranges from 645 products per hardware outlet to 2220 products – so some hardware outlets will have only 645 products under price control while others may have 2200 products under control – this is because the number of different brands they carry”

Reddy says with the new pricing, consumers will be able to save as much as 25% of their initial costing’s when building a house or carrying out renovations in as far as hardware materials is concerned.

The category of products which are brought under price control are cladding and boarding, concrete blocks, electrical items, fasteners, louvers, paints, plumbing, plywood, tiles, tools, timber and roofing.

Report by: Dev Sachindra

11 Civil Servants now aid and abet the military regime

Any more nonsense by certain individuals at the highest level of officialdom, claiming that they are simply working to put food on the table should now ring hollow.

Let us commend the following non-military appointees (with the exception of Vaniqi) for signing their names in blood to uphold an illegal and treasonous military regime and their fallacious Charter:
  1. Parmesh Chand
  2. Taina Tagicakibau
  3. Jale Fotofili
  4. Filimone Waqabaca
  5. Solo Mara
  6. Pita Wise
  7. Dr Brij Lal
  8. Cama Tuiloma
  9. Manasa Vaniqi
  10. Elizabeth Powell
  11. Dr Sala Saketa
Avinesh Gopal
Wednesday, March 09, 2011

ELEVEN permanent secretaries have signed their performance agreement that focuses on the framework set out in ministerial annual corporate plans.

Out of the 21 permanent secretaries, 11 signed the agreement with Public Service Commission chairman, Josefa Serulagilagi at the PSC headquarters yesterday.

Mr Serulagilagi said the agreement also focused on how activities contributed to the objectives of each ministerial portfolio during the permanent secretary's term in office.

He said the most important aspect of the annual corporate plans was that each plan is directly linked to the People's Charter.

"It guides the Government's direction in pursuance of developmental activities and provision of a whole range of social and economic services," Mr Serulagilagi said.

"These accountabilities are aimed at prioritising the delivery and quality of public goods and services and ensures that public funds and resources are used in an accountable, transparent and efficient manner."

The PSC reviews the performance of each permanent secretary at the end of every year and the signing is an annual event that takes place in the first quarter of the new year.

Permanent secretaries who signed the agreement were Parmesh Chand, Taina Tagicakibau, Jale Fotofili, Filimone Waqabaca, Solo Mara, Pita Wise, Dr Brij Lal, Cama Tuiloma, Manasa Vaniqi, Elizabeth Powell and Dr Sala Saketa.

Taxpayers to be shackled with a SECOND international debt

Congratulations Fiji.

Thanks to the illegal and treasonous military regime, through your silence you have endorsed the transfer of a SECOND whopping US$250mill debt to your future generations, that they will pay through the nose for.

Fiji already has an outstanding bond of US$150mill to service, which according to all indications, point to the illegal and treasonous military regime's inability to make good on.

Taxpayers can also thank the regime's stooge of a central bank for massaging the data to validate an economy that is thriving when it is clearly not. And this false optimism by the RBF comes hot on the heels of a recent inflation hike in their revised projections!

Fiji can also thank the ANZ Bank for making this possible (and making a tidy sum in the process no doubt).

The "robbing Peter to pay Paul" approach is simply an obtuse way to plug the gaping holes in the national treasury.

What remains to be communicated to taxpayers is which countries or companies we are now beholden to through this debt, and what they have been promised as collateral.
Fiji raises US$250M global bond
Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Fiji Government has today priced a record breaking US$250M or FJ$500M international bond.

The 5 year at 9% international bond transaction was arranged via sole lead-manager and book runner ANZ.

Attorney General – Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji's international investor profile was significantly broadened following a week long international roadshow across Hong Kong, Singapore and London in February.

He says the roadshow brought government officials in front of over 85 international fixed income investors via 1-on-1 meetings, group luncheons and an on-line investor presentation.

The bond announcement was made by the Attorney General today.

“The government today prized a record breaking US$250m (Fijian $500m) five year and nine per-cent international bond transacted by ANZ. This is the second Global Bond issue by the Fiji Government; the first international bond was raised in September 2006 with the sum of US$150m which will mature in September this year.”

The transaction was launched in Asia yesterday morning and was fully subscribed by midday with the orderbook closing almost 3 times oversubscribed within 12 hours of launch.

The final order book was substantially oversubscribed with over F$1.4 billion bids received and compromised of 43 investors from 6 countries.

Report by: Sekope Toduadua

Yes it IS the same old song

Tikoitoga is now appointed to take centre-stage to yodel the same old tired song, and accuses the whole world of getting the song wrong.

Col Tikoitoga conveniently forgets that the "unloyal" tune may indeed be the same old song, but this yodel is definitely worthy of earplugs. 

Just look at the rap song sheets for all the supposedly LOYAL military gang todate: Etueni Caucau, Jone Baledrokadroka, Jeremaia Waqanisau, Rt Epeli Ganilau, Lt Col Vatu, Lt Col Raravatu, Dr Lesi Korovavala, Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini, MaraDriti, Leweni, Teleni etc -- and the band plays on.
A Fiji military chief says full support for Bainimarama among military
Posted at 23:28 on 08 March, 2011 UTC

A Fiji military spokesman says there’s no rift in the force and there’s full support for its commander, Fiji’s interim leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga says speculation resurfaces regularly about a split and he described it as an old song.

Rumours of a split intensified after two senior military officers Brigadier-General Pita Driti and Lieutenant-Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba went on leave last October.

Colonel Tikoitonga told Radio New Zealand International they are still on leave at the moment.

He says he is not in a position to say anything about whether they will be returning.

When asked if that means they are effectively out of the military, he replied that they are on leave.

March 04, 2011

Military regime admits they stuffed the sugar sector up

We honestly don't know what the military regime controlled Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) expects taxpayers to do when we receive this kind of news.

On show in this instance is "boomerang aid" at its worst. This is a stuff-up of major proportions and heads should roll.

Especially John Prasad's.

And the FSC Chairman, Abdul Khan, must be on another planet if he thinks he can convince taxpayers that they can "recover the losses".

That would be another big whopper, twinning Lt Col Manasa Vaniqi's assertions last year that sugar is coming out of our ears, when what we see now is that it is not.

This episode would not have hit the light of day if Felix Anthony had not sprung them in inaction.
FSC aims to recover loan losses
Friday, March 04, 2011

The Fiji Sugar Corporation will try to recover part of the $86m paid out to vendors from India who were tasked with the upgrading of Fiji’s sugar mills.

FSC earlier admitted that the major upgrade works carried out by the various Vendors from India particularly at the Lautoka, Rarawai and Labasa Sugar Mills were a failure.

FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan says they cannot determine whether all the money can be recovered but they will try to get back some of the money.

Khan told FBC News the FSC was advised by the Sugar Technology Mission of India of the work needed to be carried out in Fiji’s three main sugar mills.

He says upon accepting their advice a loan of $86 million was provided to the FSC by the EXIM Bank of India - guaranteed by the Fijian government.

Khan says the money was not spent wisely during the upgrade works, adding the Corporation will try to find ways to obtain a discount for the loan to a value that is agreed to between the FSC and the Government of India.

Report by: Rajendra James

Hillary Clinton calls out China on Fiji situation

US in direct competition with China
2011-03-02 22:41

Washington - The US risks falling behind China in the competition for global influence as Beijing woos leaders in the resource-rich Pacific, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Her unusually strong comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are certain to anger the communist power, especially in light of Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent high-profile visit to Washington, seen as boosting trust and trade between the world's two largest economies.

As Clinton railed against cuts sought by Republican to the US foreign aid programme, she told senators, "We are a competition for influence with China. Let's put aside the humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in. Let's just talk straight realpolitik. We are in competition with China."

She noted a "huge energy find" in Papua New Guinea by US company Exxon Mobil, which has begun drilling for natural gas there. Clinton said China was jockeying for influence in the region and seeing how it could "come in behind us and come in under us".

America's top diplomat accused China of supporting a dictatorial government in Fiji, where plans to reopen an office of the US Agency for International Development would be shelved under a resolution passed last month by the Republican-led House.

That measure proposes sharp cuts to foreign assistance, including a $21m programme to help Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels, as part of efforts to rein in government spending.

Clinton also said China had brought all the leaders of small Pacific nations to Beijing and "wined them and dined them".

Foreign assistance important

"We have a lot of support in the Pacific Ocean region. A lot of those small countries have voted with us in the United Nations, they are stalwart American allies, they embrace our values. And they believe, contrary to what some might think, that they are sinking," Clinton said.

She said foreign assistance was important on humanitarian and moral grounds, but also strategically essential for America's global influence.

"I mean, if anybody thinks that our retreating on these issues is somehow going to be irrelevant to the maintenance of our leadership in a world where we are competing with China, where we are competing with Iran, that is a mistaken notion", Clinton said.

In the past year, (the) Obama administration has invested much diplomatic effort in firming up ties, including military ones, in the Asia-Pacific. That push has won applause by some governments, particularly in East Asia, because of concerns over China's expanding clout and aggressive claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The administration has said it is important to get along with China because of their shared interests in global stability and their deep economic ties. China holds $1.16 trillion in US Treasury securities, helping finance the vast US government deficit.

Before Hu's visit, Clinton said that the US would pursue a "positive, co-operative, and comprehensive relationship", and she welcomed China as a rising power.

Charles Freeman, a China expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the US was "unquestionably" involved in a "soft power competition with China. But this isn't a hard power, Cold War exercise."

"Beijing gets nervous when we talk about competition in any form," he said. "Hints of Cold War rivalry make them frantic."

- AP

Sahu Khan, Mehboob Raza and Vipul Mishra found guilty

More upheaval within the ranks of the Ba Mafia.
Prominent Lawyers found guilty
Publish date/time: 04/03/2011 [07:35]

Prominent Lawyers, Doctor Muhammed Shamsud-Dean Sahu Khan, Mehboob Raza and Vipul Mishra have today been found guilty in relation to certain charges by the Independent Legal Services Commission.

Commissioner John Connors has found Mishra guilty of two counts of professional misconduct while Mehboob Raza has been found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.

Connors has also found Sahu Khan guilty of professional misconduct.

Vipul Mishra's charges relates to him representing one Ambika Nand for the sale of Nand's land situated in Ba to one Sashi Kiran Pratap, and failing to properly inquire or cause proper inquiry concerning the mortgage on the land in question.

The charge said Mishra subsequently transferred the land in question to Pratap, a conduct which involved a substantial failure to reach a reasonable standard of competence and diligence.

The second charge relates to Mishra failing to disclose to Pratap or her appointed solicitor, all the material facts concerning the said piece of land.

The third count against Mishra has been dismissed by the Commission.

Mehboob Raza's charge relates to Raza failing to protect Sashi Kiran Pratap's interest in the land situated in Ba, where a duly executed transfer to Pratap had been lodged with the Registrar of Titles.

Three counts in relation to Doctor Sahu Khan and the law firm Sahu Khan have been dismissed.

However Doctor Sahu Khan has been found guilty of one count of professional misconduct.

That charge relates to Doctor Sahu Khan executing a Deed of Indemnity and Guarantee with Sashi Kiran Pratap, which provided that Sahu Khan would arrange at his own cost a loan of 120 thousand dollars for Pratap to pay one Mohammed Farouk Ali, who was Sahu Khan's client, when Pratap had already paid the sum of 130 thousand dollars to Ambika Nand.

In exchange for this, Pratap agreed to provide Sahu Khan with her authority to take action for damages against the Registrar of Titles and or the Attorney General.

However Sahu Khan then initiated civil proceedings in the Ba Magistrates Court against Pratap for failing to pay the loan amount and interest to the respective lenders after the civil suit against the Registrar of Titles and the Attorney General was dismissed.
While delivering the ruling today, Commissioner John Connors said the fact that a member of the public who engaged a solicitor to carry out a simple transaction should pay the purchase price and then have on her title, a mortgage and a judgment debt and having been encouraged to borrow funds to meet that debt, is now being sued to recover the money, is an indictment on the legal profession in Fiji.

Mitigation for the three lawyers will take place before the Independent Legal Services Commissioner, Connors on the 28th of April.

They will be sentenced on the 4th of May.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Commerce Commission wins tiff with Vodafone

Dr Mahendra Reddy lives to fight another day.
Voting to be opened to all mobile network
Ministry of Information
Mar 03 |15:18 pm

The Commerce Commission confirmed that Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) and Vodafone Fiji Limited have decided to open voting opportunities to all mobile networks.

This is after the search and seizure of information from the Vodafone Tamavua office by the commission on Tuesday.

“FASANOC upon the execution of the search warrant sent an email to the commission that Vodafone has changed its position and is now willing to allow voting by all. And thereafter sent a FAX confirming they will release an advertisement in this regard,” commission chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy said.

“We had to search and seize all relevant information relating to ‘2010 Fiji Sports Personality of the Year Award’ the conduct of which led to breach of provisions of Commission Decree 2010. These are used to frame charges based on breach and also produced in court as evidence.”

Several documents including draft agreement, letters and voting list were obtained.

The commission hopes the advertisement will be sent out today.

Dr Reddy stressed the commission was monitoring the situation and hoped all votes were taken into consideration and that there would be no further breach.


Qaranivalu sentencing: different "news"

The Qaranivalu's farcical case has just ended with the (In)Justice Daniel Gounder handing down Rt Inoke Takiveikata's sentence.

Oddly enough, Radio Fiji and Fiji Village post two entirely different sentences.

Fiji Village is saying the Qaranivalu was given a life sentence:
Life Imprisonment
Publish date/time: 04/03/2011 [13:07]

Naitasiri High Chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata has been taken to Nasinu Prison after he was sentenced to life imprisonment by High Court Judge, Justice Daniel Gounder earlier today after he was convicted of inciting the 2000 mutiny at Queen Elizabeth Barracks.

Justice Gounder has stressed in his sentence that Ratu Inoke is not eligible for parole for a period of eight years and he should not be released until March 2019.

In his judgment, Justice Gounder said Ratu Inoke will only be released after 4th March 2019 on a license and will be subject of recall to continue serving his life imprisonment if he breaches any conditions of his release.

Justice Gounder said Ratu Inoke was given the title of Qaranivalu to bring honour upon his people but instead he has brought them nothing but disgrace.

The judge highlighted that by turning the soldiers against their own Commander, eight soldiers were killed, 18 were wounded and two civillians were wounded by stray bullets outside QEB.

Justice Gounder said Ratu Inoke showed no remorse at all for his actions except for a plea of mercy from his defence.

He also said that after being released from his successful appeal, Ratu Inoke embarked on another dangerous venture to kill the Commander.

Then Justice Gounder directly addressed Ratu Inoke Takiveikata and he said and I quote ARatu Inoke, you pose a threat to the public safety and you will continue to be a threat to the safety and welfare of the public at large@ end quote.

The judge then raised serious concerns regarding the evidence given by Shane Stevens during the trial.

Justice Gounder said that Stevens who is serving a life sentence for mutiny was obstructive and was in contempt of court while giving evidence.

He said Stevens willfully refused to answer questions by the state counsel even after a direction from the Judge asking him to answer the questions.

Justice Gounder said Stevens responded to the questions by saying he could not recall even after his memory was refreshed from his written statement.

Judge Gounder said that observing Stevens demeanor in court, Stevens expressed anger towards the institution of justice and has shown absolutely no remorse for what he had done.

He said Stevens conduct leads him to conclude that Stevens refuses to accept responsibility for his crime.

The judge has ordered that his ruling in the Ratu Inoke Takiveikata trial and his concerns over Stevens demeanor be handed over to the Commissioner of Prisons for consideration when and if Stevens applies for parole or pardon in the future.

Ratu Inoke will serve the life sentence concurrently with the current 7 year term for the charge of conspiracy to assassinate the Commander and others.

Story by: Vijay Narayan and Roneel Lal

while Radio Fiji say's Takiveikata's only got 8 years in addition to the 7 that he is currently serving.
Ratu Inoke cops eight years for mutiny
Friday, March 04, 2011

Naitasiri paramount chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for inciting to mutiny in the attempted takeover of the Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Delainabua on November 2nd, 2000.

High Court Judge Justice Daniel Goundar has ordered that the eight years be served concurrent to the existing sentence he is serving.

Ratu Inoke is currently serving a seven year sentence for his involvement in the plot to assassinate Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

He has already served two and a half years in prison.

Ratu Inoke is not eligible for parole in the eight year sentence. Justice Goundar has ordered that Ratu Inoke be only released from prison after March 4, 2019 on a license.

And – he has warned that Ratu Inoke will be recalled to serve his life sentence if he breaches any condition of his release.

Report by: Maca Lutunauga