Letters

Letters To The Editor, 15th June, 2016

Seasonal workers Vosori Tunaqumu, Ra I heard over the radio a couple of weeks ago that people from areas that have been hit hard by Winston namely Ra, Koro and
15 Jun 2016 10:47
Letters To The Editor, 15th June, 2016
Letters to the Editor

Seasonal workers

Vosori Tunaqumu, Ra

I heard over the radio a couple of weeks ago that people from areas that have been hit hard by Winston namely Ra, Koro and the coast of Tailevu will be the main priority for seasonal work on farms.

To my utter disbelief and amazement after reading one of the dailies on 07/06/16 that the Honourable Minister has returned from six islands in Lau and is going to cover Lomaiviti, Rotuma, Cikobia and Kadavu in the near future. Why try and send all the villagers from Kadavu for seasonal work when they are well off while their ‘tauvu’ in Ra are still struggling to rebuild and trying to pick up the broken pieces and move on? Really sad indeed!

We are born and bred in the sugarcane farms and all these years we have been toiling in the fields from dawn till dusk, in the rain and under the sun, to meet the requirements. We have to hit the ground running every morning because the more we achieve the more we earn. Aren’t these the qualities the Government needs for seasonal work?

Years of hard labour have toughened our minds and the seasonal work programme will just be a walk in the park for us here in Ra.

Honourable Minister, I have been knocking on that door for two years now and I am physically, mentally and spiritually ready to lead a group from Ra for seasonal work and compete with groups from other provinces. Which province will tarnish the standards and reputation set by our pilot workers who have taken the lead?

Our children in tent classrooms and our struggling families back home will be the motivation and driving force that will keep us going come what may.

Give us a chance and we will work to the best of our capabilities. We will not let you, our village and our country down. Certainly we will put a smile on the faces of our employers thus paving the way for more of our brothers and sisters to follow.

Meet you in Rakiraki soon.

 

 

 

VAT and related issues

Norman Yee, Nadi

The budget submission by Dr Raju of the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on VAT and related issues is fully supported.

I have myself submitted my views on this to the Budget Committee.

We have been led to believe and looked forward to consumer prices dropping due to the reduction of VAT from 15 per cent to nine per cent. However, because of the greed of many merchants there was only an imperceptible reduction in living costs. While it was stated that inspectors would be out to check on prices, I could not see what resources the authorities can muster to check every shop in every town.

I have seen price tags in two small hardware shops that still displayed the old prices, but managed to get a discount.

While Government’s intentions to help the consumer, the merchants had unfortunately negated this.

But surprisingly while the VAT was reduced the service turnover tax (STT) was increased to 10 per cent, and a new Levy the Environmental Levy (EL) of six per cent was also imposed ostensibly to ‘apply mostly to visitors.’ We find that this had widespread application to a large segment of the population that uses entertainment such as cinemas, nightclubs, coffee shops, bistros and restaurants and even taxis. This was shown on the FRCA website.

So it seemed a large number of the population is thus affected. With reduction of VAT by six per cent but add to that a new levy of six per cent with an increase of five per cent of STT, the total effect is an increase of five per cent overall, not a reduction.

It is not surprising that the tourism people had to ask that Fiji must remain competitive to continue to attract visitors to our shores.

The recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) appears to support this conviction that there has been a 6.3 per cent increase in the CPI in recent months.

The effects of Cyclone Winston had further aggravated food prices.

I am appealing to the Government to reduce the STT to the previous level of 5 per cent and retain the EL if need be so that status quo is maintained so that the VAT reduction can be properly felt. Later, these charges (STT & EL) could be raised incrementally, not in 100 per cent leaps, but like two per cent so it will be hardly felt.

I have been impressed by Government’s many initiatives to help the people, but being human one can make mistakes and I believe this aspect of the tax regime is a mistake that needs to be reviewed downwards.

I have hopes that these remarks would be considered and taken into account.

 

 

 

Agriculture

Amrit Singh, Nausori

Daily we hear or read in the news that food is getting scarce worldwide.

In Fiji, the shortage of food also comes when a cyclone or draught hits the nation. Government is spending so much money to upgrade roads, but it should also focus on the agricultural sector.

As of now Fiji is lagging in this sector where money could be made with ease. While travelling around Fiji near Navua, Rewa, Korotari Labasa, Naitasiri, Bau, Korociri, there are many vacant lands left idle. The Government should identify such places as ideal farming lands because they are flat lands.

Therefore the Ministry of Agriculture is failing in its part. Fiji doesn’t lack the land, it lacks people with ideas and an eye for prosperity. Our dairy and ginger industry can be our major earner with sugarcane industry just like New Zealand has sheep, apple and the potato industry thriving.

We have the land, we can upgrade roads later. We need to first stabilise our agricultural sector and the rural roads first rather than wasting money on the Nausori to Suva corridor because it can work properly the next 10 years.

If a farmer is hungry and poor the entire nation is hungry and poor.

 

 

 

Parental interview

Herleen Emily Kumar, Nadi

When we have parent’s day in school, I have noticed that some students are too shy to bring their parents for interview.

Sometimes I do not understand why children react in this manner – an issue which gives a pause of thought to each individual youth out there.

From knowing this, I made an oral survey and I came to know that some of the students’ parents were old. Some of them said their parents did not work in a good place and there were other reasons linked to the issue.

I wish to inform the children that their parents are equivalent to ‘God’ because they are the ones who have bought them into this world, nurtured them, provided shelter, food and so forth.

Today, I wish to tell each student in Fiji not to be shy in bringing their parents, not only for parental interview, but in any event of your life. So the next time your school has a parental interview, be happy to welcome your parents to the school.

 

 

 

Key’s rejection

Tukai Lagonilakeba, Nadi

Again Bill Gavoka, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Salote Radrodro will have learned that their irresponsible and unwarranted political request to John Key will not be entertained by him and his country in their endeavour to reset, mend and rekindle the Fiji-NZ government’s diplomatic relations.

In their meeting at the Opposition’s office during Mr Key’s Fiji visit last week he has taught them a very valuable valid lesson to Ro Teimumu and co. That he will not be dragged into their Opposition petty childish politics that is not relevant to his Government’s agenda and priority, but he will support Fiji in its nominee for the Presidency of UN General Assembly.

Gavoka might want to explain why their hidden agenda was exposed by Mr Key to his Fijian counterpart Mr Bainimarama as recorded by the Fiji Sun on June 11, but it was great to see the Opposition’s dirty linen brought out in the open for all Fijians to see and specifically to those very little disappointed SODELPA supporters left.

My only regret is that we cannot have elections today to support my colleague, Simon Hazelman’s prophecy of another overwhelming mandated FijiFirst party majority win to again govern for another four years and prove a point to those who still cannot and will not accept, but reconfirm why the Bainimarama-led Government and leadership is the best, respected and trusted in moving our country forward to greater heights that is beneficial to all Fijians inclusively irrespective.

This SODELPA gang have definitely got their hearts and priorities in the wrong place again, very disappointing.

 

 

 

Blueberry picking

Savenaca Vakaliwaliwa, Canada

It is strange that out here, a blueberry farmer is desperate for more workers to pick blue berries in his big farm and the situation will get worse when other blue berry farms go on a recruitment drive.

This farmer has four buses to pick and drop workers and it is amazing to see the hardworking seniors both male and female, originally from Punjab.

In Fiji, we would not allow old people to work in the farm, but out here they have beautiful big houses, but still love the extra cash through seasonal blueberry picking.

The other day, it was drizzling with rain and I thought that no work should be done, but these old people kept working until the downpour got heavy.

Fijians who can get a visa to come out this way should do so because it would be a win-win situation for both sides.

I am told that the Serevi Invitation Sevens will be held here in July, so one can use this 7s tournament to apply for a visa now and once here, you can earn double or more what you spent just picking blueberries for four months.

 

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