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Showing posts from December 4, 2011

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Security Forces Pacific Tournament
Now that the Sukuna Bowl is a classic tournament, may I suggest that we (Fiji) have an invitation tournament where all the disciplined forces in the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand, come together in sport and during that tournament we have a meeting of disciplined forces executives to strengthen the Pacific’s  security with reference to terrorism, money laundering, people smuggling, pedophilia, maritime surveillance, peace keeping duties and all in all strengthen the ties of our people.

Pacific Islanders live all over the Pacific and what an opportune time during the Sukuna Bowl for the executives of the disciplined forces to think about devising th…

Reflections on the 2012 Budget by Fr Kevin Barr

Wages Council Chairman Fr Kevin Barr is "sorry to throw a wet blanket over all the euphoria ... about the Budget [and acknowedges its] creative and worthwhile initiatives"  but  ...

The reaction to the recent Budget announcement for 2012 was generally positive. The Business sector particularly were overjoyed. The pay increases for public servants – especially for the police, doctors and nurses – were welcomed by everyone. The protection of some local industries – in particular those who produce canned fish and exercise books – was a positive move. And the new slightly more positive approach to pensions for those in the FNPF showed that the cries of many pensioners had been heard. Some hoped that the Budget would make it possible for many consumers to have more in their pockets to spend. But ...

Elections: Avoiding the 'Mistakes' of 2006

The Government will ensure there are proper laws in place to avoid what happened in Fiji during the 2006 elections.

Speaking at the opening of the Attorney-General’s conference at Shangri-La Fijian Resort last Friday, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the European Union’s Report on the 2006
Election highlighted a series of defects, notwithstanding the fact that it said the elections were credible.

“Notwithstanding the fact that they said that there was a voter turnout of 101 per cent in one of the constituencies in Vanua Levu. Notwithstanding the fact that it noted there was no proper reconciliation of ballot boxes, or for that matter ballot papers, in some of the counting sessions,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“We do not want a repeat of 2006. We have to ensure that there are proper laws to stop this from happening again.”

However, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that there was a lot more fundamental issues, such as ethnic voting, that would not happen in the next election - thanks to th…

Confusion about Poverty in Fjii by Fr Kevin Barr

SUMMARY. Wages Council Chairman Fr Kevin Barr defines poverty as it affects some 35% of Fiji's population; the Family Assistance Scheme (FAS) that assists the 3-4% who are destitute, and shows how the 2012 Budget has done nothing that directly help the 31-32% of the population that is poor but not destitute.  He shows how the 20% devaluation in 2009 and the 2½% increase of VAT to 15% in 2010 made the poor significantly poorer, and appeals for the lifting of VAT on non-luxury food items.  He agrees that the Budget will make  middle income families better off but shows how  the new $15,600 tax threshold will help only 20-30% of those earning under the threshold.  Government argues that the indirect benefits of the lower tax rates will "trickle down" to the poor by creating new jobs.  Fr Barr says this will only be so if Government passes regulations to ensure reasonable minimum wages. Creating new jobs on wages below the poverty line will merely entrench poverty. Some 60% o…

$16m more for health - Fiji Times Online

Life Expectancy Declining?

A report co-authored by Fiji National Univesity's Prof Graham Roberts claims that Fiji life expectancy (at birth) dropped from 72.9 years in 2000 to 67.8 years in 2005. Comparable 1986 and 1996 figures were 66.9 and 66.6 years.  I found Prof Roberts' reasons for the decline of interest but  respectfully suggest a drop of five years in five years is highly suspect, and most likely caused by faulty statistics, although the sharp increase in lifestyle diseases, particularly heart related, could be a factor. The actual figure for 2000 seems more likely to have been somewhere between the 1996 and 2005 figures. Whatever the actual situation, the report highlighted a number of other important concerns in the Fiji health service.  Today is the 5th anniversary of the 2006 Coup whose effects are not fully traced by the report.
The article below is from PINA, the Pacific Islands News Association. The article and video interview that follows is from ABC's Pacific Beat.  Readers will…

Lowry Institute Write up on Fiji

At present Fiji is benefiting from a moderate level of emerging economy investment into its infrastructure and across a wide range of its industries. Russian mining giant Rusal is looking to explore its bauxite reserves, and this year China has opened a hotel and financed a $4 million fishing vessel, a $20 million government data facility, and a number of roads and ports.

India is present in Fiji as both a creditor and an investor, with Bollywood set to film three productions in Fiji this year, and India's EXIM Bank in talks with the government to revive the Fijian copra industry. Georgia recently held a series of bilateral talks with the Fiji Government about enhanced cooperation, and Indonesia has made noises about doing the same.

While foreign investment is more important to the Fijian economy than official development assistance, it's worth noting that Bainimarama's preference for non-traditional donors is selling the Fiji people short. Aid from emerging…