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Fiji Sun

Supplement

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama

December 31
12:00 2009

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. Statement on 2009

The year 2009 was indeed extraordinary with many varied and somewhat overbearing challenges: we were greeted in the New Year with a natural disaster through the flash floods that caused massive damages to property, infrastructure and even resulted in the loss of lives;
The global financial crisis hit us hard just as it did to other countries;
Our political and governance systems took another twist with the ruling by an Appeals Court that comprised overseas judges who, as it turned out, were determined to shove upon us a very unrealistic and non-pragmatic ruling which later resulted in the need for the then President to abrogate our Constitution;
And, among other challenges, which also included the ongoing need to stabilize our economy, we were also hit by another natural disaster through Cyclone Mick in December which also caused substantial damage and the loss of lives.
In all of these, I must say that we fared well not only in absorbing these challenges, but also in finding a way forward for our nation and our people.
We tried our best and we continue to assist those who lost the lives of loved ones and their property during the natural disasters;
We were fortunate to have seen through the impact of the global financial crisis through the innovative polices and the ongoing guidance by the Reserve Bank;
The business community responded extremely well to Government’s appeal to help move the nation forward;
We farewelled a truly dedicated and visionary President and welcomed a new Head of State;
And Government, through the civil servants, continued to push our reform agenda through the Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development which will help lay the platform towards a more stable and progressive social, economic and political future.
Government is people-focused and intends to help elevate the living standards in both rural and urban areas. The bottom line is a modern and reformed Pacific Island nation that is able to operate sustainably in this ever-evolving world. A step towards Government’s progress agenda is firmly set out in the widely accepted 2010 Budget.
I realise that we can only achieve our dreams if we as individuals and as a nation work together in unison.
I would like to encourage members of the public to have confidence in the Government of the day. Admittedly, sacrifices need to be made in order for progress to occur, as is often the case in reality. I am sure we all acknowledge that it is sometimes necessary to deviate from the norm in order to achieve the desired results.
I thank you, citizens of Fiji, for your cooperation and goodwill.
In the same token, I would like to thank the civil servants for your contribution in 2009 towards ensuring that Government’s reform initiatives are realised. As we enter into the New Year, I encourage you to go a step further in fulfilling Government’s development strategies, and importantly, in raising the standard and quality of services to all our people.

Vinaka.

PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

1. New Legislation / Cabinet Decisions

Financial Assistance to FSC

a. Government met the interest component of $178,000 for a $9.3 million dollar loan by FSC from FNPF to enable FSC make an advance at $4/t cane in January to help farmers prepare their children for the start of the 2009 school year.

b. Government approached the Government of the Republic of India in seeking a two year Moratorium on the loan repayment of the FSC US$50 million loan from Exim Bank of India

c. Facilitated and presented a Cabinet Paper seeking an increased Government Guarantee from $25 million to $70 million to enable FSC to borrow locally to meet its short term cash-flow requirements. Cabinet agreed to the proposal (Decision N0. 27 of 5 May).

Operational Performance – Review Structure of Industry to reduce overheads

d. Reforming the Sugar Cane Growers Council – Cabinet agreed (Decision N0. 27 of 11 Feb) to the proposal to reduce the size of the Council from 38 to 11. The objective was to (i) remove politics from the industry and (ii) to reduce the growers levies deducted to support the operations of the Council, an estimated savings of $250,000 to cane growers;

e. Reforming the Sugar Commission of Fiji (SCOF), Fiji Sugar Marketing (FSM) and Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) – Cabinet agreed (Decision 38 of 17 Feb) to (i) dissolve SCOF, (ii) to dissolve FSM and (iii) amend the SRIF Act such that “the provision of extension services” be deleted from this Act and to allow FSC to assume these services. The objective of this Paper was to reduce industry overheads estimated to be around $1.4 million (dissolving of SCOF and FSM) to allow FSC to legally provide “extension services to cane growers.

Related Papers

f. Way forward for the South Pacific Fertilizers Limited (SPFL) – Cabinet agreed (Decision 1 of 21 April) to provide $9.8 million to SPFL to enable it procure raw materials and blend the 2009 fertilizer requirements for cane growers. By nature the assistance was in the form of a subsidy to help cane growers in meeting an increased price of a 50kg of blended fertilizer from $19.50 to $45.59, with Government meeting $14.09/bag while the growers meeting the balance of $12.00/bag.

g. Development of the Sugar Industry Plan – Cabinet (Decision 63 of 2 June) noted the progress of the formulation of the Plan. The Prime Minister on 3rd November 2008 had appointed a Sugar Task Force to consult with the key industry stakeholders and formulate the Sugar Industry Plan. The key industry stakeholders include FSC, Sugar Cane Growers Council, Sugar Commission of Fiji, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji, Sugar Industry Tribunal and Government (Agriculture and Sugar Unit).

h. Proposal to Dissolve the Sugar Cane Growers Council – Cabinet (Decision 166 of 11 August) agreed to dissolve the Council. This supersedes Cabinet’s Decision (27 of 11 Feb). The objective of this Paper was to completely remove politics from the industry apart from relieving cane growers of the burden of paying levies to a top heavy Council numbering 38. The dismantling of the Sugar Cane Growers Council would save the cane growers close to $1.0 million in levies.

2. Cabinet Approves Establishment of the Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office

Government has set up a Monitoring and Evaluation Department to oversee the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Change (SFC) and the Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio Economic Development (RDSSED).
The establishment of the Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office (SFCCO) is history in the making for Government since Independence.
Never before has a Department been set up to fast-track the consistent effective delivery of government’s flagship programmes and iconic projects while at the same time monitor and evaluate its implementation.
The Department has been set up in pursuance to the Presidents Mandate to take our country to democratic elections after an advanced electoral office and systems are in place and the political and economic conditions are conducive to the holding of a General Election.
The SFC maps out Government’s response to this mandate, to ensure a smooth transition to parliamentary democracy and provides the blueprint for sustainable democratic and socio economic development culminating with the holding of General Elections no later than September 2014.
The Roadmap is aligned to the SFC and provides the strategies and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to guide its implementation.
With its implementation a top priority for Government, the establishment will oversee the:
1. Roadmap implementation focusing on the outputs and key performance indicators of all government ministries and departments
2. Ensure the SFC and RDSSED are marketed extensively through the media and public outreach and consultation programmes
3. Provide to the Ministry of National Planning on capital and Public Sector Investment Programmes monitoring and implementation
4. Support the Public Service Commission in the performance review of Permanent Secretaries
5. Monitor, audit and review implementation agencies including ministries and departments
6. Provide regular update reports to Cabinet, Military Council, DSC, PSC and other key stakeholders
7. Provide advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on issues pertaining to the RDSSED and SFC; and
8. Provide necessary support to the Ministry of Information on public relations and media programmes to ensure nationwide participation and ownership.
At divisional levels, the Divisional Commissioners will be the focal point for the Department in ensuring a whole of Government effort in the achievement of the Roadmap.
Ministries and departments in the division will be expected to report through the Commissioners on their implementation programmes.
They will however not wash off hands from the programmes and projects coming under them as the primary responsibility will remain with them for implementation, monitoring and follow-up actions.
Furthermore, the Department will play an advisory role to the Prime Minister in liaison with central agencies on planning and policy issues.
These transformations prove Governments commitment to change; a commitment to change by the people that must now be implemented and carried out by all stakeholders through closely monitored development plans and tangible realities on the ground.
Integral to this process has been the firm commitment of all stakeholders as well as Government towards the restoration and sustenance of true parliamentary democratic governance, stability and peace in Fiji.

3. Capital Developments

Chinese Grant Projects

A total of 101 projects valued at around $8,320,723.63 were funded under the Chinese Grant from 2007-2009 by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Out of the 101 projects, 71 have been successfully complemented which reflects a completion rate of 70%.
While 21 projects are currently on-going, the remaining 9 where funds have been committed should be implemented soon as well.
The types of assistance included Education projects, Government, Non Government Organisations & Sporting Bodies projects, Health, rural Road Upgrading, rural water supply projects, rural electrification and village development projects.
The completed and on going projects indicate 91% achievement in terms of assistance delivered to the community under the Chinese Grant.

Rotuma Island Trade with Tuvalu

Trade with Tuvalu will commence in December 2009 with the first shipment of 3 tonnes Dalo, 3 tonnes Cassava and 1 tonne sweet potatoes. Shipment will be on 3 weekly basis and the volume of export to be traded will gradually increase from 2010. Potential trade markets like the Kiribati have been looked into. A trade mission will eventually visit the Kiribati in November this year. Oinafa Jetty will be upgraded to accommodate visiting vessels.
l Construction of the Root Crop shed and Quarters by the RFMF Engineers has been completed. IGCP (08) 335 of 9/9/08
l Upgrade of Rotuma Hospital IGCP (08) 335 of 9/9/08
l Upgrading of the existing Rotuma Hospital has been carried out in 2008/2009 with a grant of $76,000.00
l Upgrade of existing Airstrip IGCP 239/07 of 3/7/07
l Rehabilitation was completed in 2008 at a cost of $670,000. A tractor and roller has been purchased from funds allocated last year and will be sent in November for the Airport upgrading. Phase 2 of the projects will take place with the deployment of the machinery.
Once Contracts are awarded the implementation will take place in January or February 2010 and will be completed in 8months.

4. Support for Government Plans Increasing

Support for Government’s plans and initiatives are on the rise as Government embarks on a development phase from 2009-2012 stipulated by the Strategic Framework for Change.
From the 64% support gained by the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress last year, support for Government has increased tremendously and is expected to reach around 80% by the end of this year.
The increasing support has been due to the nation wide extensive consultation carried out by the Government through the Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office (SFCCO) under the Prime Minister’s Office.
The work of SFCCO has been people centered since the early days of the Peoples Charter from where this office originates.
This support was achieved through public consultations and awareness programs and in light of this SFCCO is following in this manner by being inclusive of the people of Fiji in almost all aspects of its work.
Public Awareness and Outreach is ongoing in all of the four divisions with each division allocated a PR Coordinator working closely with the respective Divisional Commissioners and a National Coordinator for the Multi Ethnic communities.
Having attended tikina Council Provincial Council Meetings, tikina Council meetings and villages meetings and presenting in schools, it is evident that there has been a complete turnaround in the mindset of the people towards government and its work.
This has been attributed to the success of the consultations and the development programs that have taken place around the country especially those that have been neglected previously.
Evidently, areas considered ‘hotspots’ have had a change of heart with by supporting the governments approach to development. Typical examples include the island of Matuku, villages in Rewa, Macuata, and Cakaudrove to name a few who were not supportive of the Peoples Charter initially.
The four divisions of the North, East, Central and Western have had a positive turnaround in support given that the people are now getting to fully understand the true intentions of the Government through SFCCO’s awareness and consultation programs.
There is also massive support from these consultations on the Strategic Framework for Change and Road Map for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development 2009 – 2014 especially on the development phase from 2009 – 2012 because this addresses the very basic needs of the rural populations in as far as the development of rural infrastructures such as roads, water, health and education to name a few.
Government is encouraging people to take ownership of its plans because it is people centric with emphasis on development.
SFCCO is also putting a lot of consideration into dialogue on a national level. The success of public awareness and consultation to this effect will paint an attractive picture and will augur well with governments bid to win regional and international support for its cause.
Likewise, SFCCO is placing emphasis on government to rekindle the Political Dialogue Forum in the hope that continuous dialogue will help us move towards a consensus and the country will benefit from the end result.
In light of these successes, SFCCO remains committed to holding more public consultations with the people of Fiji on all initiatives of the government to help the people understand and fully appreciate the commitment of the government to ensuring a better Fiji for everyone.

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you said it
"I support it 200 percent, I am with FRU, the country and the people of Fiji. We want to bid to get one of the HSBC stops in Fiji."
Waisale Serevi
Sevens Legend
December 2009
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