NEWS

ANALYSIS: Reduce Culture Of Consumption

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Joeli Cawaki has raised  an interesting  point about how iTaukei need to use their lease money wisely. The
29 Jul 2015 09:14
ANALYSIS: Reduce Culture Of Consumption

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Joeli Cawaki has raised  an interesting  point about how iTaukei need to use their lease money wisely.

The chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources is concerned about the culture of consumption amongst iTaukei.

The committee wants to recommend that Government keeps part of the money for investment and also to drive the investment.

In the absence of specifics, any setup should have landowners’ input.

At some point, landowners need to learn how to run their business through direct involvement. They also need nurturing and mentoring by experts.

Many years ago a string of iTaukei supermarkets under the brand EIMCOL was launched through a Fiji Development Bank loan programme.

The idea was to  encourage more iTaukei participation in business.

But it collapsed.

There was no proper market survey before it was started. It did not get expert advice and help and could not survive the competition with the older and bigger establishments.

Over the years millions of dollars have been paid out to iTaukei for the lease of their land which covers most of Fiji.

But it is not reflected in their economic status. Where did all the money go?

Yes, Mr Cawaki is correct – into the culture of consumption.

Consumption is an integral part of the iTaukei  culture. Many customs and traditions are governed by elaborate ceremonies and rituals that can be costly.

In the old days this was not an issue because villagers grew their own food and they had an abundance.

They raised their own livestock and caught fresh fish. Men and women were skilled in carving, weaving and making handcrafts. They did not have to buy most of the food, mats, tapa and other iTaukei handicrafts.

Today, these skills have largely disappeared as people move to cities and towns.

Much of what’s used in ceremonial functions whether its kava or food can be very expensive.

Many iTaukei link the culture of consumption with traditional obligations. In this modern day and age this has to be reviewed and changes made.

There is an unrealistic expectation that obligations must be met at any cost.

Take for example, funerals. Funerals are expensive exercises and sometimes iTaukei go into debt to meet their cultural obligations.

In many cases, the family of the dead are unnecessarily burdened to feed and transport people during the mourning period up to burial.

Hard-earned savings that could go to education and development of the family are gobbled up by the ceremonies.
Many iTaukei are aware of the financial pressures they go through.

Some have  taken the bold step and modified how things    are done to cut costs and save money.

Mr Cawaki’s proposal should take a holistic approach that includes the following:

– Teach and train landowners the basic concepts of running a business

– Landowners must learn how to budget and save.

– Nurture and monitor them until they are able to independently and successfully run their business.

– Review culture  to weed out aspects that waste time and money.

– Focus on projects that generate income through profitable investment

– Business and culture do not mix there are aspects of our culture that certainly have a positive influence on national development like:

– Respect for the elders, authority, people in general and property

– Compassion for the poor, weak and vulnerable.

The rest are open to change and we need frank discussions for the benefit of our present and future generations.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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