"Bainimarama and his team are seen by many as champions of racial inclusiveness, meritocracy and the common man. For Prue Rouse, a vice-president of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Fiji, the ousting of the twice-elected Qarase government is no great loss."
Qarase said he stood for “an inclusive society, where the views of every community and group are taken into account.” But “the special interests of the Fijian people, including their right of ownership to their natural resources, must also be protected.” Many thought the balance tilted mostly one way. “You had the feeling that only the [indigenous] Fijian Who’s Who had a place in Fiji,” says British-born Rouse. “Everyone else was here on sufferance.”
Fiji employers join calls for independent review of pension fund
Updated July 19, 2011 16:34:34
Employers in Fiji are joining pensioners and workers calling on President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to set up an independent judicial review of the management - past and present - of the country's troubled pension fund.
After a series of failed investments the Fiji National Provident Fund is trying to put the nation's retirement savings on a sound footing by cutting pensions ...and it is planning to implement the changes from September the first.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett, Pacific Business and Economic reporter
Speaker: Prue Rouse, Managing Director of Sigma Security and vice President of Fiji Crime Stoppers International
GARRETT: The interim government and the Fiji National Provident Fund are determined to go ahead with pension cuts despite claims that they are not based on sound actuarial analysis.
On Monday, the High Court deferred a decision on legal action by the the government and the Fund aimed at striking out a challenge to the cuts brought by a pensioner.
In the past few years the FNPF has had to write down over 300 million Fiji dollars in assets as a result of failed investments.
Concerned pensioners, workers and employers have begun a letter writing campaign calling on Fiji's President to step in and set up an independent review.
Prue Rouse, Managing Director of Sigma Security, has 160 employees and estimates she has paid over 1.2 million dollars into the Fund on their behalf.
She says she is extremely concerned.
ROUSE: I feel as an employer in Fiji, now over now almost 30 odd years, I have have paid in sums of money routinely and regularly, compulsorily, into the Fiji National Provident Fund; an 8% contribution which is matched by an 8 % contribution by my employees. These payments have been made in good faith on behalf of my employees and their future as pensions.
GARRETT: You are one of the employers who has written to the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. That's a pretty big step. What prompted you to take that action?
ROUSE: Well in my own mind because I am very clear about how I feel about this. I do believe that we should, as employers, stakeholders if you like, have had representation on the board of the FNPF. We've known for some considerable time - I'm a member of the Crimestoppers International Board in Fiji and I've also been on the board of Transparency International - we were aware that there were apparently irregularities going on within the FNPF. We were never able to fully know what was wrong but there had been substantial allegations made about improper management, negligence possibly, lack of due diligence and allegedly corrupt behaviour.
GARRETT: The Fiji National Provident Fund has used newspaper advertisements to attack its critics saying they are a few self-interested individuals who are spreading false rumours.
Prue Rouse, is not a member or a beneficiary of the FNPF, and she rejects that allegation.
She does agree, however, that the Fund, like many others around the world, needs reform.
ROUSE: We know overseas that many pension funds are being revisited, even in the developed world, in the UK certainly, in France yes, but in Fiji we have other factors that have come into play - possible malfeasance, certainly what I would call frivolous, possibly negiligent, attention, people who were improperly qualified sitting on the boards, people who are unaware of codes of conduct, ..all of this has come into play, as well. And, I believe, if it is possible at all to put off these reforms until we have an independent and impartial body deal with it, that is what we should do. If we are not in a place where immediate collapse is about to take place, then surely we should be approaching this with a measure of sensitivity, compassion and understanding, and that is not the feeling that I am receiving.
GARRETT: So what action would you like to see now from the Fiji government?
ROUSE: Well, as has been seen in the letter I signed this morning to the President, I do believe that we would be extremely, how can I say, comforted, some of the fears would be put to rest if His Excellency would consider an independent body, possibly chaired by a judge, to investigate the whole recent history of the Fiji National Provident Fund and what has taken place there and how all of this has now got us into a place where some of the sums of money that might have gone missing, I have no idea of what they might be, but if we are going to take a stab at it, it goes from $300 million to 1.7 billion.
Pictured here (L-R) are Prue Rouse, Adi Ateca Ganilau and Urmila Arya