November 30, 2012

View, read, submit

Nanise Loanakadavu
Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE Constitution Commission is expected to formally present the draft constitution and the explanatory report to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau by the first week of January 2013.

Under the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012, the main work of the commission takes place from October to December but if necessary, submissions may also continue to be received.

And the Constituent Assembly under the decree will hold its first sitting by the second week of January to deliberate on the new law. Their work is to be completed at the latest by the end of the third week of March.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said earlier that the draft constitution would be considered by a Constituent Assembly in an inclusive and transparent process and the assembly would consist of representatives from civil society groups and organisations that were Fijian-registered including faith-based organisations, national organisations, political parties and government.

After the assembly adopts the draft constitution, the document will be forwarded to a tribunal which will consider whether the immunity provisions and other matters will be contained in the draft.

Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai earlier said people would view the draft document that would be available in pamphlets next month.

He urged everyone to view the draft document, take time and read the draft document before they submitted it to the President.

RFMF starts audit

November 25, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Military affirms Government’s zero tolerance on corruption

Two Government institutions are currently being audited after a directive from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The military’s chief of staff, Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz told Fiji Sun he had given the directive for audits to be carried out at the Force Training Group (FTG) in Nasinu and Shipbuilding (Fiji) Ltd (SFL).

“I can confirm, to you that we have given a directive for audits to be carried out at the FTG and Shipbuilding Fiji Limited,” he said.

For the audit at FTG, its commanding officer Major Peniasi Gade was told to go on leave.

“It must be clearly understood that Major Gade is not suspended. He was told to vacate his office for the audit team to carry out their work.”

Brigadier-General Aziz said the military upholds government’s zero tolerance on corruption and this is the very reason he had given a directive for audits to be carried in the two institutions.

He said Major Gade was asked to prepare a statement on some queries the audit team had made.
The audit, he said, would not affect the day-to-day operations at FTG.

At the shipbuilding arm, the same thing was happening and Brigadier-General Aziz confirmed that work was not affected. He assured the public that after the audits, the auditing team’s report would be handed to him.

Brigadier-General Aziz said the audits of the two institutions were in line with Government’s stand on transparency and credibility.

In his 2013 Budget address, the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama talked about dishonesty.

He said, “There is too much personal dishonesty and abuse of the system. We see it in all areas, from those who abuse the free bus vouchers for school children, to those who abuse the social welfare system, to those who continue to break the law by not paying taxes and customs duties. It is also unacceptable that importers and traders continue to charge ordinary Fijians and our visitors’ exorbitant prices, even after Government has zero-rated or reduced duty.

“We will not tolerate tax evaders, welfare cheats, or those who unfairly deny ordinary Fijians access to affordable goods – just as we won’t tolerate corruption. It is the Government’s obligation to the majority of law-abiding and decent Fijians.”

Brigadier-General Aziz said the military fully supported the move by the Government to eradicate corruption from all its ministries and departments.

Her Majesty’s portrait to be replaced on all Fiji notes and coins

Publish date/time: 29/11/2012 [15:06]

The portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on all Fiji’s banknotes and coins will be replaced next year.

Fiji will have a new series of banknotes and coins from January 2013 with new flora and fauna designs of the country across all denominations.

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside said members of the British Royal Family have featured on our currency since 1934 and the country is grateful to have had the privilege of this association over the past 78 years.

Whiteside said while it is sad to see the transition taking place, it is time to move forward and promote Fiji’s unique national treasure and the biodiversity that lies around us.

A Currency Design Committee of eminent Fijians was approved by the Prime Minister to oversee the selection of the designs. 

Whiteside also said work on the series of notes and coins commenced in February 2010 during the UN’s declared Year of Biodiversity.

He said it was most fitting to recognize this important theme in our national currency.

Also for the first time, the RBF will introduce a $2 coin to replace the $2 note.

The new notes and coins will come into circulation with effect from 2nd January, 2013.

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will officially unveil the new designs on the 12th of next month.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Similar funding for the next four years will help upgrade

Mere Naleba
Monday, November 26, 2012

Fiji Roads Authority manager change Mike Rudge believes that all road works and other road maintenance that needs urgent repairing will be done successfully, with the $422 million budget allocation by the government for next year.

"The FRA is delighted with the budget that the government has provided. This budget achieves a good balance of improving the road network with the new capital projects in Suva, Nadi and Vanua Levu and sustainable funding for roads and bridge renewal and maintenance," he said.

He said if the government and other donors continued to assist FRA with similar funding for the next four years, FRA would be able to maintain maintenance and renewal of more than 500km of reseals, more than 85km rehabilitation works, 80,000km of unsealed roads grading, 300km of new gravel on the unsealed road, all potholes filled within a week maximum response time, pavement repairs, improved pavement marking and delineation, shoulder maintenance, drainage maintenance (cleaning and upgrading), signs maintenance, routine bridge work (excludes major structural work), vegetation control, initial emergency response (excluding full reinstatement to be funded separately) and improved standard of traffic management.

Mr Rudge said government was aware of similar level of funding for the next few years in order to sustain road conditions that had been repaired and those that were currently being fixed.

"The FRA believes that the level of funding the government has provided for maintenance and renewals of roads and bridges will allow us to make a difference to the roads that most need it," he said.

FRA received $27.3 million for its operating grant and $395.1 million as its capital grant.

Fiji to become ‘Wi-Fi’

November 28, 2012 05:03:13 PM

Fiji’s Government is soon expected to provide free internet and data access for Fijians across the country.

The move comes as government’s opened today one of eight Tele-centre at Nukuloa School along the Lautoka/Ba corridor by acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Another seven would be opened at various other locations around the country in the coming weeks.

“This is one of the Government’s most important initiatives – to provide free access to the internet for ordinary Fijians. This is a way we can bridge the digital divide between rich and poor and rural and urban people in Fiji,” he said.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that ten more centres would be established in 2013 as part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to forge a smarter, better connected and more modern Fiji.

“Only about 25-thousand Fijians have regular access to a fix-lined internet connection at the moment and we believe that this initiative will improve that figure dramatically,” the he said.

As well as all the necessary hardware and software, the Government is also providing security for the Tele-centres and an assistant to help users learn how to use the services.

The first lot of Tele-centers were launched by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, in October last year, at Suva Sangam College, Levuka Public School, and Rakiraki Public High School.

By Indrani Krishna

Copyright 2012 ©

Export of fruit and vegetables open

Ropate Valemei
Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE Fiji agricultural sector has applied for market access for wi (Polynesian plum) to New Zealand and is hoping for a positive outcome by the end of this year.

Biosecurity Authority of Fiji chief executive officer Elvis Silvestrini said over the past two years, BAF had put in a lot of effort in facilitating agricultural trade and finding niche markets for the country's fresh produce.

Mr Silvestrini said talks were in progress.

"Last year in November BAF held the Fiji-Australia Bilateral Quarantine meeting after a lapse of six years where a number of achievements in relation to the technical aspects of trade between Australia and Fiji were made," he said.

"This assisted BAF to strengthen existing exports and keeping the pathway open for taro exports to Australia by reducing interceptions."

Mr Silvestrini said the authority also discussed new exports such as cauliflower and chillies.

58,000 get water

Salaseini Vosamana
Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE Pacific Water for Life Foundation has helped 58,000 people in Fiji over the past five years to ensure they have safe and clean drinking water.

This was revealed by foundation chairman Aslam Khan at the opening of the Urata rural water project in Labasa this week.

He said with assistance from organisations such as New Zealand Aid (NZAID), the foundation was able to implement water projects since its inception in 2007.

"The foundation operates on a widescale when it comes to water and sanitation for people in rural areas," Mr Khan said. "With the help of NZAID, we will be assisting 20 rural communities with their water projects.

"We have already completed 10, seven are in progress and three will soon be approved before work starts. For the residents the project will mean a flow of water to their households and it's now their responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the project."

New Zealand trade commissioner Peter Lund said more than $NZ715,000 ($F1.04m) was allocated for the 20 projects. He said the funding assistance would directly improve the productivity of health, agriculture and aqua culture for rural communities.

Padres split on sex trade

Nasik Swami And Ana Madigibuli
Thursday, November 29, 2012

TWO senior ministers of the Methodist Church of Fiji differ on the idea of legalising sex workers in the country.

Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, who takes over as president of the church in January, said he opposed the legalisation of prostitution while Reverend Tevita Nawadra, who replaces him as general secretary, said he was for legislation to protect sex workers.

"Personally and, I think, the position of the church that we do not support the legalisation of prostitution is simply because it contradicts with the laws of the Ten Commandments that 'thou shall not commit adultery'," Mr Waqairatu said.

"There should be wider consultation in order for the people, the stakeholders like the church, the vanua as well as families can talk and discuss the way forward for them when dealing with the issue."

Mr Nawadra said otherwise.

He supported legalising prostitution "because it will be overwhelming for those who suffer from HIV/AIDS".

Mr Nawadra said there were other diseases related to this type of lifestyle and through legalisation they could keep account of sex workers.

"They can have some idea of who is who in the field of sex work and it's easier to trace them wherever they are to help them," he added.

"The Methodist Church, for example, has always been difficult to express its own stand on this issue.

"I think there needs to be a lot of follow-up and once sex workers are recognised officially and legalised, church workers can easily follow them and help them through counselling and whatever they can to help them live a life that is worth living."

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday rejected a statement by the Health Ministry acting permanent secretary, Dr Josefa Korovueta, who said the ministry wanted legislation to protect sex workers.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said no amendment to the Crimes Decree had been approved by Cabinet and any significant change to it would require approval and would only occur after wide community consultations.

November 29, 2012

Comic Relief: Grubby Replies

Darling Shazzer

Sorry no speaky speaky, been busy ever since I got back to Sydney. I'm planning my very own "Grubby TV Christmas Special", featuring will feature me (of course), carrying my Walkley Award and frolicking bare-chested down a studio set with a backdrop of Victoria Parade in the 1950s.  We will film the Government Buildings clock going "bong" (even if we have to record the "bong" at a time which is not quite at the top of the hour). I will be in a sleigh drawn by four bulamakaus including a young heifer who I've christened "Sharon the Red-Haired Reindeer" in your honour. We will sell advertising space on the sides of the other bulamakaus, just to show off one more of my clever Walkley-winning ways.

Just one problem, nobody's expressed any interest in it yet. Things are getting desperate. You might have to ring Riaz at FBC TV, he seems prepared to pay top dollar for any amount of crap, why not mine?

Look, sorry about the bula shirt at the Budget but I had no idea that anybody took any of that stuff so seriously. Sheez, that was a surprise. All these high-flying business and government guys in their Sunday best all lapping up all that rubbish we wrote in the Budget speech. I had no idea - you can feed this bunch anything at all and they will praise it. "Empowering Fijians", "Modernize our Nation", "Strengthen Our Economy." It means nothing and they love it! Actually, to tell you the truth I was a bit hung over at the time I was writing that, I just photocopied it from one of Qarase's prime ministerial speeches in 2004. All that PR stuff didn't do him much good either, I guess.  

Now, what about this stuff-up on the drugs? Why is Dr Neil Bainimasharma telling the Fiji Times he's wasted $3m on expired pharmaceuticals? Wasn't there some big story soon after he was appointed about how he was going to reform the Government Pharmacy to stop all the waste? This is a complete embarrassment Shazzer, can't we tell the idiot to stick to his stethoscope and stop talking to the Press? Not empowering too many Fijians with that move, I must say.

Sorry, got to go, I need to paint on some more chest-hair for the stills of "Grubby's TV Christmas Special".



This is to inform the public that some of the above is fictional. The Government Buildings clock does not go "bong", but since Grubby hasn't lived in Fiji for 40 years, he doesn't know that. 

November 28, 2012

New Vunivalu to be announced next year

November 27, 2012 04:33:31 PM

Fiji’s chiefly clan in Bau Island will announce the name of its new Vunivalu next year although a decision has been made on the incumbent for the position.

This was confirmed to FijiLive by Turaga na Tunitoga Ratu Veiwili Komaitai.

Moves to install and announce the new Vunivalu of Bau, the paramount Chief of the Kubuna Confederacy was put on hold earlier this year.

The Turaga na Vunivalu of Bau, generally considered to be one of three highest ranking chiefly title in Fiji has been vacant since the death of the last Vunivalu, Ratu Sir George Cakobau, in 1989.

“We have finally made the decision as to who will be the new Vunivalu and we will be announcing the name and holding all traditional ceremony mid next year,” said Komaitai.

He said they had faced a few hiccups but everything has been settled now and people should be rest assured that a new chief will be announced in Bau next year.

The Vunivalu, when installed, also takes the title of Tui Levuka as he is the traditional leader of the Levuka people of Lakeba, Lau.

The four male candidates that had been announced in the past were Ratu George Cakobau Junior, the son of the late Vunivalu, his brother Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Ratu George Kadavulevu Naulivou, and former Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli.

Ratu George had announced on June 9, 2005, that the chiefs of Matanitu o Bau (the traditional chiefly government of Bau, which includes the districts of Dravo, Namata, Nausori, and Nuku), had selected the four chiefly candidates, to be submitted to the Tui Kaba clan, to choose one of them.

A second meeting a week later tentatively proposed Senator Ratu George Cakobau as the new Vunivalu, but his appointment was not finalised and is not without controversy.

Adi Finau Tabakaucoro, a member of the Tui Kaba clan and a senior chief, had complained that the proper procedures were not being followed.

The new Vunivalu should be elected by the whole clan, she said, rather than chosen by a few elders.

The head of the Tovata confederacy is the Tui Cakau, currently Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and the head of the Burebasaga confederacy is the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Traditionally, the heads of the three confederacies are regarded as the highest ranking chiefs in Fiji.

By Mereani Gonedua

Copyright 2012 ©

Major turnaround for local papaya industry

November 28, 2012 12:49:40 PM

Fiji’s Papaya Industry is slowly recovering in the aftermath of two consecutive floods early this year and the Papaya Disorder in August after 500kg of papaya was exported to New Zealand last weekend.

Papaya exports had plummeted as a result of two major floods from 50 tonnes in December 2011 to less than 1 tonne in April 2012.

In August, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji had to temporarily halt papaya exports as a standard precautionary biosecurity measure after identifying a disorder affecting plants in the Sigatoka area.

BAF chief executive Elvis Silvestrini said holding of papaya exports was one of the standard measures taken by BAF amongst others to prevent the spread of the papaya disorder.

“BAF identified a papaya disorder in certain backyard gardens and farms in the Sigatoka area and as a result our teams conducted surveys on the farms as well as the papaya plants in backyard gardens in the area. We did find signs that pointed towards a papaya disorder,” Silvestrini said.

“The cultures had been sent overseas for analysis and authentication but the good news is that the disorder is localised, traceable and not a threat to exports. The papaya industry is now bouncing back and last weekend we exported 500kg of papaya to New Zealand,” he said.

According to Silvestrini, BAF has also received reports from industry that about 200 acres of papaya will be maturing by this December which will not only increase the local supply but also boost exports.

By Indrani Krishna

Copyright 2012 ©

Fresh Fijian bele now in NZ

November 28, 2012 12:22:13 PM

Fiji’s agricultural trade has been boosted with the export of the first consignment of fresh bele (Island cabbage) to New Zealand last weekend.

This was after New Zealand recently approved market access for export of fresh bele from Fiji to New Zealand.

Biosecurity’s chief executive Elvis Silvestrini said that 2012 has been an exceptionally good year for Fiji as far new markets for fresh produce were concerned.

According to Silvestrini, bele exports will not only bring benefits for the farming communities and their families but will also boost Fiji’s agricultural exports and bring in more foreign exchange.

He also urged farmers to take advantage of this new opportunity and grow more bele for exports. Silvestrini also acknowledged the assistance and the support given by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries to enhance agricultural trade in Fiji.

New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries Senior Advisor, Pacific Market Access Fresh Produce Nacanieli Waqa said there was a huge market for bele or island cabbage in New Zealand particularly amongst people suffering with diabetes.

By Indrani Krishna

Copyright 2012 ©

MWH Global Ensures The Future Of Fiji’s Roads

12:57 November 28, 2012
Press Release – MWH Global

Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday 27 November 2012, – MWH Global is helping the Fiji Government make a giant leap closer to ensuring the people of Fiji see huge improvements to their roads network.

Three new road maintenance contracts, with a combined value of $450 Million (FJD,) have been signed with three experienced New Zealand Road Maintenance Contractors.

These appointments are the next step after MWH agreed a $25 million (NZD) contract with the Fiji Government to help them reform the country’s road governance and operational practices. Since then, MWH has been assisting the Fijian Government to establish the new Fiji Roads Authority.

Under this contract, which began in January this year, MWH provides professional management services for the maintenance of the islands’ road network which includes 5,000 kilometres of main roads (of which 4,000 kilometres are unsealed), 400 kilometres of urban roads,5,000 kilometres of ‘other’ roads (typically connecting sugar cane and forestry plantations), 900 bridges and 15 jetties. In addition to this MWH are also providing management and supervision services to approximately $600M (FJD) of new construction projects.

MWH Roading Network Manager Mike Rudge is overseeing the five-year contract. He says, “Since the start of this year MWH has been establishing the corporate structure and organisation of the Fiji Road Authority. We have worked hard reviewing how road maintenance and renewals are carried out. A key part of this review has been a move to outsource road maintenance contracts.”

The three successful contractors are all New Zealand based companies and were selected after a thorough tender process that started in May this year. In total, proposals from 28 companies from around the Asia Pacific Region and Fiji were considered.

The contracts have a combined annual value of $120 Million (FJD) and have been awarded to Fulton Hogan, Blacktop Construction Limited and Higgins Group.

“This will be the first time Fiji has committed to an ongoing program of maintenance and the renewal of its roads. One of the critical roles for the contractors will be to pass on their expertise to local workers and companies. We want these reforms to have a lasting effect rather than just being a Band Aid solution. So this also presents a great opportunity for local workers to upgrade their skills,” says Mike Rudge.

The contracts will start on 1 January 2013 and will be for four years with a right of extension for a further one or two years.

About MWH
MWH Global is a strategic consulting, technical engineering and construction services firm leading the wet infrastructure sector. Offering a full range of services and innovative, award-winning solutions beginning in the initial planning phases through construction and asset management, we partner with our clients in multiple industries to implement projects and programs that focus on water, energy, natural resources and infrastructure. Our 7,500 employees in 35 countries spanning six continents are dedicated to fulfilling our purpose of Building a Better World, which reflects our commitment to sustainable development. MWH is a private, employee-owned firm with a rich legacy beginning in 1820. For more information, visit our website at


Businesses in Fiji doing very well-Furlong

Publish date/time: 28/11/2012 [16:39]

Businesses in Fiji are doing very well and are producing positively towards the economy.

This is the view of General Manager Pacific, Business Mentors New Zealand Ian Furlong during a workshop on Business Mentoring today.

Furlong said with 141 private Fijian companies registered under this Mentoring programme they have indicated to them that more people would like to open a business in the country.

According to Furlong a lot of people want to open up their business in Fiji and have very good ideas but fail to get it off the ground.

Story by: Filipe Naikaso

Shortage of aviation fuel in Tuvalu

17:03 Today (November 28, 2012)
Report by: Elenoa Turagaiviu

Air Pacific has had to off-load some passengers and bags on certain flights to Tuvalu to enable its ATR-42 aircraft to carry return fuel to the island.

The airline says there has been a shortage of aviation fuel in Tuvalu for the past two weeks. It says it has brought the issue up regularly with Tuvalu Government authorities.

However – now it has been assured that processes have been put in place to ensure consistent supply of fuel, to enable its ATR-42 aircraft to re-fuel for the return trip.

This means payload restrictions will ease, and the airline will be able to carry passengers to capacity.

Air Pac appoints regional G.M Australia


Fiji’s national airline, Air Pacific soon to be known as Fiji Airways has appointed Andrew Stanbury as Regional General Manager, Australia following the retirement of the airline's veteran executive, Victor Sharan.

Stanbury is an experienced senior manager with over 15 years of management experience in sales, marketing, customer service, and airport management roles at Air New Zealand and other NZ-based carriers.

“We are excited to have Andrew joining Air Pacific and our new management team especially as we get ready for our new fleet of wide-body Airbus A330s and begin rebranding and re-launching our airline as 'Fiji Airways' next year,” Air Pacific’s managing director and chief executive, David Pflieger said.

Stanbury will commence his new role as Regional General Manager of Australia on October 2.

By Indrani Krishna

Copyright 2012 ©

No plans to legalize prostitution - AG

Publish date/time: 28/11/2012 [17:06]

There are no plans to legalize prostitution in Fiji.

That is the confirmation from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said a statement by Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor Joe Koroivueta that a change to the Crimes Decree was being contemplated is incorrect.

The Attorney General stressed that no amendments to the Crimes Decree have been approved by cabinet.

Sayed-Khaiyum said any significant changes to this decree would require cabinet’s approval and would only occur after wide community consultations.

Doctor Koroivueta said in a World AIDS Day press conference at Government House that they are looking at the legalization of the sex workers in the country.

He said they were looking at the Crimes Decree and the HIV decrees.

However, as stated today by Sayed-Khaiyum, this is incorrect.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Union concern over possible Fiji sugar role

Posted 4 hours 30 minutes ago

The International Union of Food and Agriculture says it will oppose Fiji's bid to chair the governing body of the world's sugar industry.

The International Sugar Organisation, which represents most of the world's sugar producing countries, is holding a key meeting in London this week, to elect a new chairman.

Among those vying for the position is Fiji's interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

But the IUF's coordinator for Agriculture and Plantation, Sue Longley, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat Commodore Bainimarama's appointment would legitimise a military dictatorship.

"We're concerned that his is having a dictatorship,a military dictatorship in Fiji, and during his regime, we've seen substantial erosion of trade unions and human rights in Fiji," she said.

"These have been well documented and recognised by the EU, by the organisations of Pacific States, by the International Labor Organisation."

The International Sugar Organization is an intergovernmental organization which seeks to promote the trade in and consumption of sugar.

Fiji produces two million tonnes of cane a year, most of it still cut by hand.

Ms Longley says the governments involved have criticised Fiji in other forums, and what it is calling for is a consistent approach.

"The ISO itself has a commitment...that its member must respect fair labour standards,

"We feel very strongly that Fiji is in breach of this agreement and certainly should not be received the gives the regime a legitimacy we don't think it deserves."

Call for talks on mangroves

Torika Tokalau
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE people of the district of Suva in Suvavou and Waiqanake as well as those from the district Vutia are concerned about the large areas of mangroves that are being cut down in the Suva Peninsula to make way for development.

In a letter signed by Filipe Tuisawau from the yavusa Burebasaga, Tui Suva Metuisela Mudunavosa and the mata ni tikina o Vutia, Ravuama Lalanabaravi, called on the government to hold public consultations on the destruction of mangroves in Suva.

This, they said, should also involve residents of Draunibota in Lami and Nasese in Suva.

"As a traditional fishing rights owners and original landowners, we would like to express our serious concerns at the continued abuse and destruction of the natural environment in the Suva Peninsula areas," said the letter to acting Lands permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa.

"We refer in particular to the permanent destruction of mangrove areas for development lease purposes and the possible alienation of these areas permanently, especially the expression of interest for the development of State tiri land at Nasese along the Queen Elizabeth Drive and Walu Bay along Edinburgh Drive."

The men expressed concern at the mangroves that have been destroyed in Lami and Fletcher Rd in Vatuwaqa and Raiwai.

"We do understand that these areas are State-owned but please note that these areas were owned by the Suvavou and Rewa people originally.

"They are also subject to land claims by us the original landowners and indigenous people of Fiji and will continue to be so."

The letter requested an urgent moratorium on all expression of interest or development leases on tiri lands and foreshores of the Suva Peninsula, saying although the tiri areas might be State-owned their destruction affected the fisheries "of us the indigenous Kai Viti of the Suva Peninsula".

In response, Mr Boseiwaqa said the application for foreshore development might now be put on hold unless under special circumstances.

"The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources is now working with relevant government and non-government agencies in reviewing the Mangrove Management Plan 1985-1986 to ensure the preservation and sound management of mangroves," he said.

Landowners remain firm on decision

Torika Tokalau
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE landowners of Navakavu will not back down from their refusal to allow Pacific Building Solutions to develop 36 acres of their land at Draunibota Bay in Lami.

Taniela Vueta Bani, the landowners' committee secretary, said their decision on the issue was final.

"The vanua has met and the decision was made. No changes will be made," said Mr Bani.

A meeting on November 16 attended by chiefs, landowner officials and yavusa representatives agreed to maintain their stand that the land not be developed by PBS.

"We refused to go ahead with the negotiations after finding out the intention of Pacific Building Solutions to lease 36 acres instead of 3.5 acres (which they had initially agreed to)," Mr Bani said.

He said the initial agreement was for 3.5 acres only.

This was decided by elders who met representatives of PBS in a discussion of their intention to lease the 3.5 acres foreshore at Wailekutu earlier this year.

"But before they met for their first sitting to finalise the details of the lease, the landowners found out a Notice of Foreshore Development had already been published in one of the dailies," Mr Bani said.

"It was the leasing of the 36-acre foreshore instead of the 3.5 acres that had already been agreed on."

It is believed PBS has been seeking discussions with roko tui Rewa Timoci Kacanavesi on further consultations for their proposed development.

Questions sent to PBS managing director Michael Fairfax remained unanswered.

Namosi united

November 28, 2012

No decision has been reached about mining in Namosi.

This was confirmed yesterday by the spokesperson of the Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) Sipiriano Nariva, during the Namosi Secondary School’s prizegiving ceremony.

“I can confirm to you now that we have not reached a decision on mining to be carried out in Namosi,” Mr Nariva said.

However, he said, they supported the rehabilitation works that had been carried out by the Namosi Joint Venture following exploration work. The Joint Venture, led by Australian Miner Newcrest is looking at a multi – billion dollar copper and gold mine, which will boost both the Namosi and national economies.

When asked why they had not made a decision, Mr Nariva said it was too early.

“We will make a decision when the time is right and we cannot rush as it will affect our future generation.”

He confirmed that they were united in their decision.

The committee, he said, had been mentioned by the Namosi’s paramount chief, Turaga na Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, as having been brainwashed by a non-governmental organisation.

“We wish to clearly state that we were not brainwashed with the negative impacts of mining as claimed by Ratu Suli.

“It is about time we stood up on our two feet and gather information on our own. It was through our struggles and initiative that we were able to provide the current Government with factual information on the impacts of prospecting on our land that initiated the current rehabilitation process in Namosi.”

According to him, the committee is a government-recognised landowners’ representative.

He said it was important to note that the majority of the landowners, especially the elders, had consented to its formation.

He said TNLC was made up of landowners including all (VKB registered individual) females.

Mr Nariva said they supported Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on Government’s move on mining in Namosi.

The Government has given the green light to the Namosi Joint Venture to restart all activities relating to its special prospecting licence.

These activities include exploration, project studies and Waisoi Project environmental impact assessments until 2015.

In his capacity as manager of Namosi Secondary School, Mr Nariva thanked the prospecting company for providing the school’s dux prize – a laptop.

Legalise sex trade

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HEALTH authorities want sex work legalised to remove discrimination against what some say is the oldest trade in history.

This was confirmed to The Fiji Times by the Ministry of Health's acting permanent secretary, Dr Josefa Koroivueta, yesterday.

"For many years sex work has been regarded as illegal in the country," he said.

"We need to address this so that sex workers do not face discrimination."

Dr Koroivueta said Fiji was working towards a human rights-based approach and discrimination of sex workers was against human rights.

"We have a HIV/AIDS Decree that is human rights based and does not discriminate.

"The issue in Fiji is that the sex workers become non-compliance when it comes to human rights," Dr Koroivueta said.

He said the new legislation for sex workers would be in compliance with the HIV/AIDS Decree and totally based on human rights principles. Dr Koroivueta said the new legislation should be ready by next year.

Air Pac faces disruption

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NATIONAL airline Air Pacific had to delay last night's Nadi to Los Angeles flight because of maintenance issues on one of the airline's B747 jumbo aircraft.

The flight was scheduled to leave Nadi International Airport at 10.50pm but would leave at 7am today.

"This flight (Nadi-LA) will be operated on the airline's leased Euro Atlantic B777-200ER aircraft," Air Pacific spokesman Shane Hussein said.

"The return Los Angeles-Nadi flight (FJ811) will operate with a 30-minute delay, departing Los Angeles at 10pm LA time, arriving in Nadi at 5:45am on Thursday November 29 (Fiji Time)."

Mr Hussein said yesterday that affected passengers were provided with meals and overnight accommodation.

"Air Pacific apologises to its customers for any inconvenience experienced as a result of this disruption, and thanks everyone for their understanding."

"The airline's Airport and Reservations staff will continue to keep affected customers updated on new flight times and any further flight delays once that information becomes available," Mr Hussein said.

Meanwhile Air Pacific yesterday operated a supplementary Nadi-Sydney-Nadi flight to cater for all affected passengers from Sunday's cancelled FJ910 service.

$14m for mushroom

Maciu Malo
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE Chinese government gave $14 million to the government through the Agriculture Department for mushroom cultivation at Legalega in Nadi.

This was revealed by Agriculture permanent secretary Ropate Ligairi yesterday.

He said the investment would also provide employment for locals and more importantly reduce the imports of mushrooms.

"This is one of the big projects targeted for the west and we are thankful to the Chinese government for their continued assistance," said Mr Ligairi.

"The first phase of development will start soon with the construction of buildings to be used as training centre, laboratory and office. "These kinds of investment will be the first for Fiji and we are confident it will bring more developments to the people in the west."

Mr Ligairi said the construction phase would take three years to complete with the aim of reducing government spending once completed.

"Another reason for setting up the new industry is to meet local demand and the growing tourism market especially at hotels."

"People, especially farmers, will benefit from this project in terms of having another form of income source

"The more opportunities we give out the better it will be for farmers as this can also help in the alleviation of poverty," he said.

Mr Ligairi said the new mushroom project would attract more local and overseas investors to fully utilise unused land in the west.

He said the government was committed in assisting the people of Fiji through various forms of agricultural investment and at the same time help the economy grow.

Health saves $3m

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Health Ministry has saved $3million this year — thanks to improved procurement, storage and distribution of drugs and medication.

Drugs held in stock at the Fiji Pharmaceutical Centre in 2008 were valued at as much as $10m but best practices by the health sector has reduced that to $6m.

"We have made dramatic improvements this year by reducing the expiry and wastage of medications and drugs around the country," Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma said.

He also said the ministry had moved away from using originated drugs to generic drugs.

"The United States of America uses 40 per cent of its medication from India and these are good generics. The health ministry is determined in making sure that world class drugs and medicines are also accessible to all Fijians," Dr Sharma said.

He said while these cost-saving measures were successful because of new practices implemented — the purchasing of new technology had contributed to the ministry's health programs.

Dr Sharma said adopting new and improved processes and standards in health clinics around the country had improved the performance of personnel and the quality of services.

"For now, we are in the process of purchasing Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scanners for the Central Division, liquid cytology equipment as well as efficient ways of screening cancer patients. For the ministry, purchasing these equipment means that Fijians don't have to travel outside the country to access world class health services and facilities," he said.

Indian contractor is complying says WAF boss

13:00 Today (November 28, 2012)
Report by: Mika Loga

Water Authority of Fiji chief executive Opetaia Ravai says, New Delhi company Technofab is conducting its work in-accordance with the relevant laws of the country.

However, Ravai says, the Indian company along with other contractors – contracted by the Authority, are being reminded to strictly adhere to rules that governs workers they employ.

The Water Authority had demanded from Technofab details on FNPF deductions for its workers after FBC News revealed, that Chinese company – China Railway 5, also contracted by W.A.F, wasn’t paying FNPF for its workers.

Technofab is hired by the Water Authority to upgrade the sewerage system at the Laucala Bay and Domain areas in Suva.

“According to what they’ve told us they’re complying and they’re learnt from what’s covered in the media about china railways. I’m sure they are on to it. If there are other things not only FNPF there are other provisions of the ERP they need to comply with the terms of payment of allowances and things like that we’ve highlighted that to them to all the contractors.”

Fiji benefits from migration

13:02 Today (November 28, 2012)
Report by: Devendra Narayan

The Dean of Economic at the Fiji National University’s Economics, Doctor Mahendra Reddy says, Fiji has benefited from people who are moving abroad.

He says following the military coup in 1987 up until 1994, an average four thousand two hundred fifty people left our shores for greener pastures overseas.

Most who left were the Indo-Fijians.

Reddy says, while brain drain might be a problem for Fiji, the country on the other hand raked in 30-million US dollars in remittances in 1995 alone.

Over the years the figure has risen to 180-million US dollars, representing six percent of our GDP.

Dr Reddy was speaking at the International Labour Organization organized workshop in Suva this morning.

He made a presentation on socio-economic and Labour market trends and key employment challenges in Fiji.

Reforms update for US students

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

STUDENTS from the University of Delaware in the United States who will be visiting Fiji next month have been briefed on the political and economic situation here by the Fiji Embassy in Washington DC.

First secretary Ray Baleikasavu informed 24 second-year students about the reforms being undertaken by the government towards rebuilding the country into a non-racial, culturally-vibrant and united, well-governed, truly democratic nation and by 2014, the general elections.

"Constitutional and electoral reforms are currently being pursued to effect the change required to move the country forward," Mr Baleikasavu told the students.

"A new constitution is being formulated to reflect the universally-accepted principles of a common and equal citizenry; a secular state; removal of systemic corruption; an independent judiciary; elimination of discrimination; good and transparent governance; social justice; one person, one vote, one value; elimination of ethnic voting; proportional representation; and a voting age of 18 years."

Mr Baleikasavu said the voter registration process was successfully progressed with over 500,000 eligible voters registered.

The work of the Constitutional Review Commission has also been effectively pursued with the draft constitution expected to be ready by year's end. As part of their studies abroad, 24 students and three university professors will travel to Fiji.

Comic Relief: Commodore Frankly Bananas Phonetic Auto-cue

Darling Grubby,

You were congratulating me the other day for how well Frankly Bananas spoke at the budget last week. As I mentioned we gave him extensive training on an auto-cue  However, the first one we tried did not work so well So Qorvis flew in an auto-cue that had been especially built for George Dubya Bush. It is a special phonetic version.

Please find below a couple of paragraphs of what the Commodore was actually reading.

“It is my task today as your Prime Minister and Minister for Fine Ants to present to you the 2013 Bud Jet. Next year will long be remembered as the year that Fee Gee made a bold investment in its Few Ture. For 2 Day, I am A Noun Sing a Bud Jet that Dee Sigh Sieve Leigh tackles some vital Air Ears of need in our Neigh Shone and especially one of its biggest Chall Engines – the state of our Lead Her Sheep

Since Eye presented the Bud Jet last year, Knee Ear Leigh half a Milly On Fee Gee Annes have Rej His Turd to vote in the He Lek Shone, and we expect to Rej His Turr Men Ee more. We are Form You Late Ing a Knew Con Stit You Shone with a set of Un Ass Sale A Bull, You Knee Verse Ally-Ack Sep Ted Prin Sip Pulls.”

What the audience heard is below.

It is my task today as your Prime Minister and Minister for Finance to present to you the 2013 Budget.

Next year will long be remembered as the year that Fiji made a bold investment in its future.
For today, I am announcing a budget that decisively tackles some vital areas of need in our nation and especially one of its biggest challenges – the state of our roads.

Since I presented the budget last year, nearly half a million Fijians have registered to vote in the election, and we expect to register many more. We are formulating a new constitution with a set of unassailable, universally-accepted principles.

Pretty Cool hey.

Hugs and Kisses


November 27, 2012

Commission expected to finish draft constitution before Christmas

Publish date/time: 27/11/2012 [17:07]

The Constitution Commission is expected to wrap up its work after it finishes with the draft constitution before Christmas.

According to the Constitution Commission Decree, the commission is expected to hand the draft to the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau in early January.

The next process then takes place where a Constituent Assembly deliberates on the document.

Members of the assembly will be appointed by the Prime Minister.

The decree states that the composition of the assembly shall reflect the diversity of the people of Fiji and include but not limited to the government, registered political parties, faith based organizations, employers representatives, trade unions, farmers and members of the rural community, the military, national organizations, women, persons with disability, youth, pensioners and other civil society groups.

After the Assembly adopts the draft constitution, the document will be forwarded to a tribunal which will consider whether the immunity provisions and other matters are contained in the draft. 

If the draft does not comply with the stated principles in the decree, then it will be referred to the President and back to the assembly for necessary amendments.

The decree states that upon receipt of the draft constitution and the report of the tribunal, the Constituent Assembly shall, within seven days, make the necessary amendments in accordance with the report of the tribunal and shall present draft constitution back to the President.

The new constitution for Fiji shall come into effect on the day following the date of assent by the President, subject to any provision in the constitution that postpones the coming into effect of any aspect of the new constitution.

The work of the Constituent Assembly is expected to be completed by late March 2013.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Greg Bullard no longer a magistrate

Publish date/time: 27/11/2012 [17:13]

Australian Greg Bullard is no longer a magistrate in Fiji.

This has been confirmed by Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Sayed-Khaiyum said Bullard left the country after receiving all of his legal entitlements.

Bullard was appointed as resident magistrate by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau early last month.

He was admitted as a legal practitioner at the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1999.

Bullard returned to Australia earlier this month.

Fijivillage has been told that no further information will be released on why Bullard is no longer a magistrate in Fiji.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Times awaits fate

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FIJI Times Limited lawyer Jon Apted yesterday told presiding judge Justice William Callanchini that the newspaper company is ready to make a public apology, which would be printed on the front page of the newspaper.

This was during the mitigation hearing between the State and the Fiji Times Limited after the High Court found the newspaper company, the publisher and editor guilty of contempt of court for words used in an article published on November 7 last year.

The court had also made findings that a subsequent article published on June 30 this year was contemptuous.

In his mitigation submission, Mr Apted told the court the publication of the two articles in 2011 and 2012 was not intended to scandalise or disrespect the court.

He said the articles were published as a result of errors in the newsroom and apologised on behalf of the company, publisher and editor in court.

"There was no intention on the part of the newspaper or anyone to scandalise the court," he said.

Mr Apted asked the court to consider not imposing any further punishment on the publisher and editor beyond the finding of guilt as neither had been aware of the contents of the articles which had been published through the errors of staff members.

He submitted that the Fiji Times Limited should be fined no more than $10,000 which was the amount of the fine in an Australian case which he contended had similarities to The Fiji Times case.

In making his submission for the Attorney-General, acting Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma asked the court to impose an appropriate penalty that would serve as a deterrent to members of the public.

"Despite all the apologies, Fiji Times continued to publish reckless articles, scandalous articles against the judiciary," Mr Sharma said.

He had asked that Fiji Times be fined no less than $500,000 to be paid within a given period of time and be ordered to give a bond for good behaviour for a period of two years.

Mr Sharma submitted that the owners and directors of the company be ordered to enter into a $500,000 bond on behalf of Fiji Times Limited to be of good behavior for a period of two years.

He also sought three and six months imprisonment sentences for the publisher and editor respectively with good behaviour bonds.

The judgment sentencing will be delivered on notice next year.


November 27, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Firefighters want in on all rescue services

The National Fire Authority (NFA) has begun a process that will eventually end with it taking over rescue services nationwide – adding to the firefighting and ambulance services roles it has at the moment.

The plan involves the NFA seeking legislative changes that will allow the organisation to evolve into a one-stop-shop type operation and the leading agency in emergency-type situations.

Chief executive officer John O’Connor said talks had been under way to review the authority’s legislation, which was part of the National Fire Service (Amendment) Decree 2009.

“It is the intention of Government to build the capacity of the NFA,” Mr O’Connor said.

“We are in the process of reviewing our legislation so that we can offer an effective response beyond the roles we have now. This is to ensure that people’s lives are protected and helped in times of need.”

Section 11 of the National Fire Authority Act says;
“(a) to establish fire districts in accordance with Section 3 and to ensure that the provision of fire services is efficient having regard to life and property which the Authority is under an obligation to protect;”
“(i) to co-ordinate, establish and to take all practical steps to provide emergency services and rescues for road and industrial accidents, hazardous material incidents, floods and natural disasters;”

Mr O’Connor said the review would start with a strategic management workshop next month to formulate ideas from stakeholders.

“Apart from basic firefighting, we want to become the leading agency in ambulance service and land, water and disaster rescue,” he said.

“We have most of the resources, knowledge and equipment. For our services to be effective and efficient, we need to review our legislation to encompass our operation.”

The NFA is likely to follow the models of operation used in Singapore.

“Australia and New Zealand have a State emergency service apart from the fire service. The Asian model is different where the fire authority is empowered to conduct all operations. It is helpful because it allow the fire authority to carry out its role well and in its totality,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said their $400,000 operational grant allocation in next year’s budget would enhance their ambulance services.

NFA is likely to add the Ba and Sigatoka areas in their ambulance services. It currently services Suva through its headquarters at Walu Bay, Nausori and Valelevu. Talks are ongoing with the Ministry of Health for the Ba and Sigatoka ambulance services.

Meanwhile, the revised legislation is expected to be in force by the middle of next year.

Air Pacific facing flight disruptions

16:22 Today (November 27, 2012)
Report by: Christopher Chand

International carrier Air Pacific continues to face flight disruptions as a result of its 747 jumbo jet facing mechanical problems in Sydney.

Due to the unavailability of the 747 aircraft, their flights to Los Angeles faced delays of about 10 hours on Sunday and passengers will face an eight hour delay for the scheduled flight tonight.

Air Pacific says engineers in Sydney are still working on returning the aircraft to service.

The airline sent an additional flight to Sydney today to cater for passengers who were affected on Sunday. This flight was also delayed by a few hours.

Air Pacific has two 747 aircraft, one is currently in Singapore for a routine maintenance check and the second one has developed problems in Sydney.

The airline is advising passengers that tonight’s LA flight which was to depart at 10.50pm tonight will now leave at 7am tomorrow.

Call to formalise lease

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, November 24, 2012

PRESIDENT of the Fiji Islands Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has encouraged all small business operators to start formalising their land leasing arrangement or purchases.

Speaking at the Fiji Development Bank Small Business Awards, Ratu Epeli said this would act as their security if they wanted to expand their business.

"For instance, if the enterprise wants to borrow money, it must have assets that are formally registered to it, which can then be used as collateral for a loan," Ratu Epeli said.

Within the informal economic system, he said the presence of assets is evident — a nice home in the village, a plantation and/or a few heads of cattle "or if you hail from Kadavu, a few goats on mataqali land".

He said this was recognised as dead capital because of the absence of documentation to represent formal ownership.

Request denied

Salaseini Vosamana
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A LANDOWNING unit in Cakaudrove has rejected a Water Authority of Fiji's (WAF) request to lease a piece of land belonging to them for the construction of a sewerage plant.

Tui Nasavusavu and head of the mataqali Valelevu, Ratu Suliano Naulu confirmed that the request by WAF had been turned down.

He said the land belonging to the mataqali at Lesiaceva Point in Savusavu would now be reserved for the mataqali members.

Ratu Suliano said the decision by the mataqali did not mean they disagreed with having development in Savusavu. The only reason for not agreeing to the proposal, he said was because they wanted the mataqali members to make use of the land because of its small size.

Ratu Suliano said the piece of land wanted by WAF was not sufficient for such development as it was less than an acre and would be suitable for usage by members of the mataqali.
Ratu Suliano said his vanua of Nasavusavu would continue to support government and its initiatives of development in the area if other pieces of land belonging to the mataqali were available and identified for possible development. WAF chief executive officer Opetaia Ravai could not be reached for a comment.

Acting roko tui Cakaudrove Bulutani Matai confirmed that his team approached the mataqali on behalf of WAF. He said the mataqali stood firm on their decision not to lease the land to WAF.

Pipes for dry taps

Salaseini Vosamana
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NEW water pipes will soon be installed in Labasa by the Water Authority of Fiji to reduce the intermittent water supply in the area.

Responding to complaints by residents on the continuous water disruptions at Delailabasa, authority spokesman Maika Nagalu said they were working to wards resolve the water supply problem there.

The water pipes will be installed in areas from Naseakula to Delailabasa.

"While it may not be easy as it seems to fix the problem, we will ensure the residents receive a good supply of water," Mr Nagalu said.

"One of our booster pumps at Nasekula Reservoir which pumps water to Delailabasa developed mechanical problems, leaving only one pump to operate on Sunday. The whole area of Delailabasa was affected."

Mr Nagalu said technicians managed to repair the pump and water was restored yesterday morning.

"All residents in Delailabasa received normal supply throughout the day and also at night. Residents will only experience intermittent supply whenever there is a burst water main from the pump at Nasekula, low reservoir level at Benau treatment plant or when there is power blackout."

Resident Tomasi Siko said intermittent supply was becoming an issue in the area prompting people to fork out extra money to fetch water from relatives and friends.

Rain hampers roadwork

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

THE changing weather pattern is a contributing factor to most deteriorating road conditions around the country.

Fiji Roads Authority manager change Mike Rudge said heavy rains were hampering roadworks.

"With so much of the road, bridge and jetty network one of the most difficult questions the FRA faces is what should be done first," he said.

"This is made more difficult by the fact that the current condition of the network is such that sections can rapidly deteriorate after periods of heavy rain."

Mr Rudge said the authority had identified sections of high priority sealed and unsealed roads in each division that they would focus on next year.

"We will also start to make progress addressing the backlog of bridge maintenance that is needed, one of the key things we will be concentrating on will be to improve the reliability of access to school for children in remote locations," he said.

Mr Rudge confirmed the authority would also review Suva's transportation needs which include improvements to streetlights and footpaths; a traffic study would also be conducted in Labasa and Lami.

"In addition to improving maintenance, we will also be looking at a range of improvements in and around Suva, looking at how we can improve traffic flow and safety on busy streets.

"We have also scheduled investigations into a new jetty at midpoint on Vanua Levu."

$10m medicine down the drain

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TEN million dollars-worth of medicine stocks bought by the Government Pharmacy in the past expired and went to waste.

This was revealed to The Fiji Times by Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma.

Dr Sharma said there was expiring and wasted medicines because the ministry had gone to the wrong suppliers to purchase drugs and medication.

However, he said things would change and the ministry was moving from originated drugs to generic medicines.

A generic medicine is a drug defined as a drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use.

The United States of America uses 40 per cent of its medication from India. It sources its medication from India and these are good generics. If America is using 40 per cent generic, whats wrong in Fiji using generic? Dr Sharma said.

He said this would save a lot of money for the ministry.

In addition, he said doctors were asking for better equipment. If we do some savings in this area, we will target technology.

Dr Sharma said the ministry was in the process of improving the technology available to health services in the country.

The ministry has pumped in close to $4million into technology in 2009 and 2010, he stated.

Now we have started to improve our technology such as biomedical equipment, CAT scanners, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), all the lab equipment, X-ray machines and ultra-sounds machines. All these went to the sub-divisional hospitals for the first time, Dr Sharma said.

According to traditional partners of the Ministry of Health, $15million worth of equipment were needed to service those which are aging.

Now I am in the process of looking at CAT scanners for Suva, liquid cytology, and a better method of doing cancer tests, he said.

This will equip all our labs with brand new machines. Some of these services never existed in Fiji before like the mammogram to screen for cancers. Before we used to have only one but now we have three.

We also have one MRI machine in Fiji. If a country has an MRI in one of the institutions, then you can stand tall.

He said this was the mark that a country was emerging and getting its service improved.

Dr Sharma said Fiji previously sent patients to New Zealand for MRIs, costing $1600 per treatment. However, with MRI now available in Fiji it would save the ministry a lot of money.

Fiji farming leader doesn’t expect tax incentive will have much impact

Posted at 03:39 on 27 November, 2012 UTC

The National Farmer’s Union in Fiji believes there may be problems finding land for those wanting to take advantage of new agricultural tax concessions.

Under the 2013 budget, a tax free area will be created in the east of the main island of Viti Levu and those investing a minimum of nearly 600 thousand US dollars in agriculture will qualify for a tax free holiday for 13 years.

If that investment is in the dairy industry the tax holiday will stretch to 20 years.

The National President of the Farmers Union, Surendra Lal, says he doesn’t think there is much opportunity for huge developments

“Most of these pieces of land are tied up, currently tied up with dairy farming, cash crop farming and this sugar cane farming. For any entrepreneur coming with huge investment requiring a large and wide land area, well that is what we have to see whether there is availability for huge development.”

Mr Lal says various incentives have been tried before, but for whatever reason have not generated much investment.

But a local chamber of commerce believes the area is wide open for investment and that the incentives will give the required push for development.

November 23, 2012

Fiji's diplomatic standing on the rise

Updated 23 November 2012, 11:38 AEST

Fiji's been welcomed back to the fold at the ACP, the group representing countries from Africa, the Carribean and the Pacific.

One of the world's more important "South-South" groups, it fosters trade and solidarity between developing countries.

It's approach in offering Fiji a seat at the table contrasts sharply with the attitude of Australia and New Zealand who continue to keep their distance.

Dr Stephen Ratuva the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand explains the significance of what is a boost to Fiji's international standing.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Dr Stephen Ratuva from the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand

RATUVA: I mean Fiji's always been of ACP, the bigger ACP framework, but recently, it was not part of the ACP Pacific process fundamentally because of the link with the forum, although these are two different legal entities. But I think the readmission of Fiji into the Pacific ACP is probably the first step towards being accepted into the regional organisation, into, well not so much the forum, because I think the Forum and the Commonwealth Secretariat, a suspension will be there for sometime, perhaps until after the election, because the ACP Pacific fundamentally economic in terms of trade with the European Union having Fiji's participation would be quite crucial.

COUTTS: Well, this to re-embracing into the Pacific of the ACP. Is that a sign of perhaps a growing warmth to Fiji in the Pacific? Are Australia and New Zealand being left behind or out of step on this?

RATUVA: Well, I mean it's much more complex than what it appears, because the ACP Pacific is a group of island states outside Australia and New Zealand, so they're not part of it, so it's much easier for small island states to re-embrace Fiji into the ACP Pacific, although, I'm sure Australia and New Zealand was not very happy with it. So it's probably the first step towards trying to convince the Forum to re-admit Fiji into the full Forum.

COUTTS: Is Fiji too important to ignore economically speaking, even it's uncomfortable politically?

RATUVA: Yes, I mean that's a key issue here, because the ACP is fundamentally an economic grouping and so the forum is fundamentally political grouping, although it is very much involved in the trade within the Pacific and between the Pacific and the rest of the world. So because of the need for small island states to consolidate its trading links with European Union through what is known as the EPA and I think they recognise that Fiji is crucial in that sense, but also with the PACER Plus, they realise that Fiji's participation is crucial, because it's very much at the centre of the South Pacific trade relationship. So yeah, so you have those complexities, which I think over time they're already thinking through.

COUTTS: And, so it's important that Fiji have the opportunity in the ACP to negotiate deals with the European Union?

RATUVA: Yeah, I mean Fiji and Papua New Guinea have recently signed separate agreements with the European Union and I think at the same time, the small island states want a common framework to deal with the European Union.

COUTTS: PNG and Fiji are out of step with the rest of the Pacific on that?

RATUVA: Yeah, because in terms of trade volume, they're the biggest. In fact, the Pacific ACP can only work with PNG and Fiji being part of it, because that's where the volume is and not so much the other small island states. And also what made Fiji's participation easier is the link with Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea and Fiji have consolidated a very strong, not only political, economic links, the flow of capital from PNG to Fiji and Fiji-PNG has been growing and that's where something like 80% of the total South Pacific economic activity will emanate from in the next 10 years. So first it's through Papua New Guinea, and secondly, I think it's the realisation by the small island states that we can only move ahead if Fiji was part of it. And politics aside, aside from the political situation back in Fiji, I think the pure economic reasons are quite significant.

COUTTS: Is Fiji in the Pacific part of the ACP strengthened or is it slightly compromised by letting them back in?

RATUVA: Well, I think it's both. I think what's been happening is that Fiji has been trying to pull out of the EPA and also the PACER has been trying to place on politics in terms of leveraging it's central position and significant position from within the small island states economic relationship as a means by which it wants its political interests to be heard. So by threatening to pull out, it actually forces the small island states to say, hang on, no we want you. So that kind of political games taking place at this point in time. So the sooner they sort it out the better for the great good of the small island states economies.

COUTTS: And do you think Australia and New Zealand will warm or embrace Fiji a little better than they have been? Will their attitude thaw a little bit?

RATUVA: Well, the diplomatic relationships between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand have kind of warmed up recently, because they have re-established their diplomatic relationship in the last couple of months or so. But I think Australia and New Zealand are still very much concerned about Fiji going through the election and coming out of the election. And I think that will be the deciding moment when they will give full recognition to Fiji.

Fiji super fund to finish Momi Bay Resort

Last updated 12:50 23/11/2012

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has announced Fiji's superannuation fund will spend FJ$150 million (NZ$103.9m) on finishing the Momi Bay Resort - the property deal which spelled the end of failed finance company Bridgecorp.

Bridgecorp sunk NZ$106m into the venture before hitting financial strife and Fiji's government eventually seized the resort from Bridgecorp's receivers and nationalised it in mid-2009.

Bridgecorp's receivers initially held hope that the Momi Bay development would be completed or sold, prompting it to estimate a return to investors of between 25 and 74 cents in the dollar.

However the Bainimarama government's seizure of the assets ended that possibility and Bridgecorp's investors will now be lucky to receive a total of 10 cents in the dollar.

The Fijian government had also put FJ$18m into the project alongside Bridgecorp but has spent the past three years attempting to sell the site and the half-built "ghost town" resort.

The Momi development has previously been offered for sale by the government as 305 acres of freehold land "providing for 370 full serviced residential lots of varying sizes" with "over-water luxury villas" and a partially-completed golf course.

In Bainimarama's budget speech for the up-coming 2013 year he said Stage One of the Momi Development would commence at the beginning of the second quarter of 2013 and the Fiji National Provident Fund [FNPF] would complete the development "with an estimated investment of $150 million".

"Government will assist this initiative by ensuring that the project is completed expeditiously," Bainimarama said.

However the Fiji Sun reported FNPF chief executive Aisake Taito as saying the amount to be invested in the Momi project had not been finalised yet.

The resort of residential sections, hotels, marinas and golf courses has sat half-built waiting for a buyer or a developer to resurrect it since 2009.

- © Fairfax NZ News

A new budget for Fiji to improve roads

Updated 22 November 2012, 18:18 AEST

Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced an increase in the national deficit.

For 2013, the budget estimates total revenue of $2.1 billion Fiji dollars and a total expenditure of $2.3 billion.

That means the estimated net deficit for 2013 will be $218 million dollars or 2.8 per cent of Fiji's Gross Domestic Product a big increase on the current deficit of 1.9 per cent.

The interim prime minister said this was necessary in order to fix Fiji's roads.

Commodore Bainimarama insists the deficit increase is not reckless spending, but rather a focused and disciplined approach to building the nation's economic capacity.

And for reaction to the budget, we're joined by Peter Mazey, President of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Peter Mazey, President of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce

Fiji budget likely to gain widespread approval

Updated 23 November 2012, 11:14 AEST

Fiji's interim government has handed down its budget for 2013, which allows for an increase in the national deficit and a total expenditure of $2.3 billion.

That means the estimated net deficit for 2013 will be $218 million dollars, that's 2.8 per cent of Fiji's Gross Domestic Product and a big increase on the current deficit of 1.9 per cent.

The Income Tax Threshold has been increased from $15,600 to $16,000 for next year.

Professor Wadan Narsey, former head of Economics at the University of the South Pacific, says the budget will have widespread support.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker:  Wadan Narsey, former head of Economics at the University of the South Pacific

$4.2m for stadium works

Rashneel Kumar
Friday, November 23, 2012

THE Fiji Sports Council (FSC) will use the $4.2 million allocated to it by the government in the 2013 budget to complete upgrading works at National Stadium in Suva.
The council, which recorded an increase of $1.2m from this year's budget, exceeded their National Stadium upgrade project budget by $2.5m.
FSC chief executive officer Litiana Loabuka thanked the government for the significant increase in the budget.
"We had budgeted $15m for the stadium project and we have actually exceeded our budget by $2.5m in what we have achieved so far," she said.
"This is due to unforeseen costs due to the extensive damage that was only apparent once we had kicked off the project.
"Legal costs and other contractors' costs have contributed to this excess as well. The remainder of FSC's allocation will go towards the completion of the project proper and that is the completion of the seating structure for the existing embankment."
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, while announcing the 2013 National Budget in Suva yesterday, said the upgrading of the National Stadium was vital in bringing international matches to Fiji.
He said the budget would help the FSC to upgrade the National Stadium to international standards.
"Once completed, the National Stadium will enhance Fiji's ability to bid for and host regional and international sporting events," Bainimarama said.
"This will develop sports tourism."
Meanwhile, Loabuka congratulated the government on the successful 2013 budget.
"This budget has touched the heart of every citizen by allocating $420m to Fiji Roads Authority, amongst other things," she said.
"It says a lot about how relentless our government is about fixing this ongoing issue and that is the roads."

Military budget cut

13:05 Today (November 22, 2012)
Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Elenoa Turagaiviu

The Fiji Military Forces has had a reduction in its budget allocation for next year.

It’s getting $106.8 million for 2013 compared to the $112.4million it had this year.

The Government Shipping Services now no longer comes under the RFMF – hence no allocation was given to it under the RFMF budget.

The 3FIR gets $18.8 million, the Naval Division gets $14.2 million, the Sinai Peacekeeping Mission gets $14.8 million, the Iraq Peacekeeping Mission gets $11.6 million and the Land Force Command gets $8.5 million.

The RFMF has over 3000 established staff.

200 families to have housing debts written off

Publish date/time: 23/11/2012 [16:14]

People who are facing difficulties in paying their mortgage debts to the Housing Authority of Fiji can breathe a sigh of relief as some of their loans will be written off.

The government has set aside $1 million for next year to write off loans for 200 families under the government social housing policy through the Housing Authority.

Director Housing, Kolinio Bola said this will assist those are not able to pay their loans.

Meanwhile, $600,000 has been allocated as a grant to the Housing Assistance and Relief Trust, which will cover the construction of new HART homes and maintenance of existing ones.

There are more than 20 HART homes around the country.

One million dollars has also been set aside for the squatter upgrading and resettlement project which will be directed toward completing ongoing projects at Caubati, Sasawira, Ledrusasa, Cuvu and Narere.

Story by: Praneeta Deo

960 people to be exempted from paying tax

Publish date/time: 23/11/2012 [16:09]

It will be good news for 960 as they will be exempted from paying tax from next year following the increase in tax threshold from 15,600 to 16,000.

Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority CEO, Jitoko Tikolevu said through this initiative government will be losing $11.6 million.

Tikolevu said this is a balancing act.

Government has introduced Green Tax and increased a few taxes to recover this loss.

Story by: Ronal Deo

Comic Relief: Shazzer responds to Grubby

Darling Grubbers.

ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!! If I hear you whinge once more about Professor Edge I swear I will get your Fiji passport revoked and never let you come back to Fiji ever again. For 2 months we have nothing of any use or interest on your blogsite. You then stop writing for 2 weeks, I wrongly assumed you were doing some investigative piece on how Commodore Bananas is in fact the rightful King of Fiji. Instead you produce 5 articles on Professor Edge in as many days.

You have become obsessed with the poor professor and it seems to me he has pushed you over the edge. Now I say this once more enough is enough and if you write another thing you are toast.

In fact I am fed up of with all you literary parasites of the regime. I asked Crazy Welsh to send me a positive story to write on this week and lazy SOB could not be bothered to send me anything. I know there are not that many positive stories out there at the moment but you would think that after we gave him a free holiday in the tropical paradise of Fiji the least he could do is come up with a at least one good news story. I have got a good mind to fly to NZ and shove his ivory tower where the sun does not shine.

In fact I am pissed off with all men at the moment you are all f***ing useless. Even our Glorious leader has been very needy recently. We wanted to make a good impression with the budget and we had put Commodore Bananas through an intensive Qorvis media training session. He had never used an Autocue before and so he needed a lot of help. The trainer was very positive but told me in private that the word speed of the Autocue was running at its slowest setting normally reserved for 1st year primary school kids.

To be honest he did pretty well but he still struggles with the longer words, as you know. I had to sit in the front row directly behind the auto cue and mouth all of the long words for him; he would copy my mouth movements and get the words out almost correctly. He did give his most fluent speech of all time but it looked as if I was muttering to myself the whole time. The French Ambassador was sitting next to me and he was giving me funny looks. I have never seen anyone get out of his seat so fast at the end of a speech. He obviously thought I should be sent to St. Giles.

We made one mistake and that was not to put the National Anthem on the Autocue. You would have thought the Glorious Leader would at least have learnt the words but obviously not and he looked a real retard trying to sing along and remember the words at the same time. I asked him about it afterwards and he said “what was the point? As soon as the Constituent Assembly proclaims him leader for life the anthem will change.” He then told me he was having a go at writing the new one but he could not think of a word that rhymed with Bananas.

By the way Grubby when the invite says business attire I do not want you turning up in a blue bula shirt again. It looks well, grubby next to all those smart suited businessmen. Did you see those 3 colonels sitting in a row? Now they looked smart. I was sexting with Qilio all the way through the boring bits.

I have spent most of this week keeping stories out of the media. Working as hard as ever, Not. It is a pretty easy job when you control the media.

We have had another example this week of why the military can’t run a thing. What’s that phrase the soldiers use “Can’t run a target practice in a rifle range”.

It was decided that the Flying Fijians would perform better with a military man in charge. So we sent Major Rocky along as manager. He has a reputation for being able to whip people into shape in minutes. Literally!

He was in charge of the boys and they were not performing well and so he tried a bit of QEB discipline on them.

He remembered what had worked really well with Ken Zinc. So he ordered them to run around the field. They just laughed and set off at a sprint leaving poor little Rocky far behind. They ran around the field a few times and then disappeared. He chased after them but he is not very fit. He finally caught up with them at a cozy pub in Gloucester as they were on their third beer.

He was spitting with rage and he went up to the first player, who happened to be Leone Nakawara, the lock. Standing on tip toe he and looking up he said “I am going to knock the S**t out of you!!” Nakawara just laughed and patted him on the head and ordered another beer. Poor Rocky he was so humiliated and vowed he would get his revenge.

So the next night after the defeat to Gloucester he got in the team bus and ordered it back to the hotel with only a few players on board. He would make the other players walk back to the hotel in the rain that would show them who was boss. Unfortunately his plan went wrong as the team all got lifts in the cars of the Fiji supporters and taken to the another pub for a jolly party without Rocky’s interference.

One bit of good news for the Glorious Leader and the True Leader is the new deal they have done on Mahogany. It is going to bring them millions of dollars each and better still they will be paid in US dollars straight to their accounts in the Dominican Republic. They have given all the Mahogany rights to 2 American Companies: SMI (Steal Mahogany from the Itaukei) and Forcedsaleofland.

Your boss Rex from Qorvis gave me a present the other day. It is a new camera they developed especially for the US Presidential Elections. It captures the subject’s thoughts as well as their image when you take a picture, I took this picture of Frankie Reid the US ambassador and Commodore Bananas at the SMI launch this week.

 Inline images 1

I have not dared show it to the Glorious Leader!

I have also had to keep a lot of other stories out of the news. Such as the ILO saying we have reached the top 5 in Workers rights abuses.

Fiji’s Shortest ever serving Magistrate, Greg Bullard lasted a month before he realized there was no justice to be had in this country and so he resigned.

Luckily for us he gave his evidence to the True Leader, Aiyarse. He of course immediately put it into the shredder and told Bullard. If you ever want to leave Fiji you better sign this non disclosure agreement.

I hate Aussies like him they make it so much harder for the rest of us. You and I Grubby, we had to work for years for free and become Fijians before the Dictator would let us jump on the gravy train. He comes along and is hired immediately and then he walks off in a sulk after less than a month. Honestly what sort of justice did he expect to find in a dictatorship?

One bit of good news was we got readmitted into the negotiations for the PACP. It actually means nothing because we have always been part of the ACP. However, now we will be able to have a chat with our island neighbours before the True Leader next jets off to Europe.

The PNG government paid for an Air Pacific Plane to fly the Glorious Leader and his entourage to Port Moresby. When they came here they brought some Government Ministers and about 100 businessmen. They thought the Glorious Leader would do something similar. Instead Commodore Bananas flies to PNG with 42 people on board. He takes Kubbumbollocks 2 civil servants and the remaining 38 passengers are his security detail. The other heads of state all thought this was stupid and were laughing about him behind his back. One of the jokes doing the rounds was this one,

What do you call a nun sitting on Commodore Bananas?
Virgin on the Ridiculous

Hugs and kisses


This is to inform the public that this letter is a piece of fiction. However, some of the people and events mentioned are real.

Frankie Reid is a professional diplomat and unfortunately the dictator lives to rule his people for another 1,000 years

FijICTION of the week: What are we promising? A Government that works for all Fijians.” Said Commodore Bananas.