The Government is boasting about the growth in tourist arrivals but simple arithmetic tells us it could have been better. Visitor arrivals grew from 348,014 in 2001 to 548,589 in 2006, before the threats of a coup started to choke growth. That’s a 57% increase over 5 years. In the 8 years since the coup, visitor arrivals have increased by less than 30%. Who knows how big the tourism industry would have been if we had not had a coup? We might have passed the million mark.
Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial relations permanent secretary Taito Waqa is pleased with the resumption of opportunities for Fijians to work in NZ’s seasonal employer work scheme. Taito should talk to his boss and let him know that New Zealand is a neighbour, not just another aid donor. Australia too has a seasonal work scheme that we can now look forward to joining. Frank needs to get it through his thick skull that Australia and New Zealand are neighbours, that’s why they are part of the PIF, and have been from the start.
Confirmation by Acting Police Commissioner Isikeli Vuniwaqa that the police files on the death in custody of robbery suspect Viliame Soko have been returned to the DPP is good news. It shows that the police under their new Commissioner are committed to enforcing their law without fear or favour. Acting Compol Vuniwaqa also confirmed that the investigation files with a notorious Youtube video torture case have also been submitted to the DPP
Bainimarama promised he’d cut crime when he seized power but the heavy hand has not solved the crime problem on the western side. Lautoka is getting a new prison to house remand prisoners, which will hold 96 prisoners. So somebody must be committing crimes and they’re expecting more. With the new Commissioner in charge of FPF we might now hope to see what efficient, professional policing can do in place of lazy thuggery.
Khaiyum has defended his ambush of foreign investors in the property market by claiming he DID consult. He said his consultation was the post-budget forum organised by the Fiji Chamber of Commerce at the Grand Pacific Hotel. He just doesn’t get that consulting means talking to people to find out how it affects them BEFORE springing the new law on them. For some strange reason it was lefty to Government Member of Parliament Ashneel Sudhakar to explain that the main focus of the Land Sales (Amendment) Bill No. 28 of 2014 did not apply to land outside town and municipal boundaries. So what about the people in Savusavu? And does that do anything to reduce the damage already done to investor confidence?
Before the election the boast was “the highest cane price ever” (forgetting for a moment the highest costs of fertiliser and transport ever). Now there’s a slight change of tune. Abdul Khan has another promise, which is slightly different and very worrying. “I want to reassure growers that we will definitely try to keep the price as high as possible.” Definitely TRY? In other words: don’t bet your house on it. He claims FSC will rake in about $70million annually from the sale of electricity from cogeneration plants in Labasa and Rarawai in Ba. But this is not going to happen unless farmers can increase the production of cane. The threat is the downward spiral we’ve been under our Minister for Travelling to Sugar Conferences will continue.
FDN readers will enjoy this interesting contribution from our friend Navosavakadua.
World Rugby has delivered our A-G quite some basic lessons in the law and how to do business.
First of all, the AS-K decree was enacted without any consultation with the party most likely to be affected by it, ie World Rugby.
Second, when the law came into effect, Fiji TV was obliged to share the rights it had paid for, which was a law with extra-territorial effect. AS-K loves to talk about sovereignty but he doesn’t seem to understand its limits.
Third, the Fiji Sun, slave media outlet of Bai and Khai (my words, not WR’s) claimed that World Rugby had no objections to the airing of the coverage on all three free-to-air networks. This was false. WR was still reviewing the issue. AS-K knew this and simply lied.
AS-K has trouble understanding the central issue here. What he wants to do is take the property of Fiji TV and hand it to their competitors.
Exclusive coverage increases the amount of advertising revenue a broadcaster can expect. Taking it away is theft, pure and simple. It’s the same issue with the proposed changes to the Land Sales Act. It’s confiscation. Kurt and Joanne Zimmerman, American property owners in Savusavu, put it very clearly in a letter of protest to their Ambassador: “By not allowing the sale of our freehold property to other foreigners who can afford such properties, the Government would effectively make our properties near worthless.”
This is no way to do business. It highlights the biggest single obstacle to investment – Government which thinks it can act without consultation and confiscate any property it deems in the national interest.
If there is one good thing that might come from the rugby debacle it would be a challenge to the legality of the part of the broadcasting decree prohibiting any challenge of decisions in a court of law or other tribunal. If a court ruled this unconstitutional it would give a real boost to investor confidence in our court system.
Lands Minister Mere Vuniwaqa has confirmed that Chinese bauxite miner, Aurum Exploration Fiji Limited, is under an obligation to carry out rehabilitation works in accordance with an Environmental Impact Assessment report. Landowners at the Nawailevu Bauxite Mining site in Vanua Levu can take comfort that we have a Lands Minister who does not mince words and who has shown she listens to the concerns of people affected by Government decisions. Her predecessor was asleep on the job, too busy NOT doing his job as Sugar minister and Finance Minister, not to mention Minister for iTaukei Affairs or Commander of the RFMF!
EU Ambassador Andrew Jacobs has confirmed the European Union will focus their development fund in Fiji on sustainable rural livelihoods particularity in the sugar industry. Cane farmers are all hoping that it’s not too late. We know the price for sugar is going to fall. Let’s hope we can work together to achieve the efficiency needed to cope with the lower price.
Former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, James Bately, who was expelled by the Fiji regime in 2009 was treated to a terrible shock when he arrived in Nadi last Sunday. He was told he was still on the banned list, despite the resumption of normal ties. He was told by Immigration boss, Major Vuniwaqa, he could stay for 48 hours, “during which we would seek a review of his persona non-grata status of 2009”. He must have despaired of receiving fair treatment and left for home on the next available flight. I mean, people, do we want a tourist industry or not? Let’s hope this doesn’t get a lot of play in the Australian media.
Island Business 9 December 2014: Expelled Australian diplomat given 48 hours to leave Fiji