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Solid win for Kepa, Prasad and team

December 3, 2014

Prasad: this round to him

Good victory: the attempts by Fiji First to have its finger in the pie again have been foiled by
the Opposition standing its ground.

The Public Accounts Committee can now go ahead and do its job – dig into the Auditor’s Report 2007 to 2013 with gusto – with National Federation Party MP, Biman Prasad, staying on as chair.

Auditor’s report: Time for open information.

Prasad’s nomination was challenged by three Fiji First MPs but they’ve been unable to shake him, thanks to the Opposition sticking together, with Aseri Radrodro, backing the decision instead of getting a big head and fighting the hierarchy.

As Biman Prasad himself has said, there is no conflict of interest: the committee hasn’t even started work and his comments were about process, not specific outcomes.

The committee meets properly on December 15 with Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa urging everyone to work diligently and to remember the people will be watching.

source – c4.5; posted by rusi varani for SWM

Budget reveals high debt but promises economic growth of 4.2%

November 27, 2014

Fiji First released its 2014 budget on Friday.

As expected the budget is full of promises of developments and freebies.
But with debt at a record high, where will the money come from?
source – c4.5; posted by rusi varani for SWM

Murder of Aussie woman another blight on Fiji tourism

November 18, 2014

Tracy Maw: Returned to Fiji to reconcile with lover.

It’s the lifeblood of Fiji but the death of another tourist will surely hurt the industry the regime takes such pride in.

The discovery of the decomposed body of Australian woman, Tracy Ann O’Brien Maw, has been publicised widely in Australia, since she was found on Monday.

Both the details of her death and her relationship with a married Sigatoka local, plus the police investigation, have painted a picture of Fiji that is feral.

Media reports reveal she’d been in a relationship for four and a half years and had told a Facebook group she’d lost $42,000 plus her house as a result of it. She said she’d been sending him money regularly but he was probably spending it on his wife and family.

Relationship: She told friends she’d been ripped off.

“… when you come home to Aussie you really DONT know what they do when your not there. sad hey when we give them honesty and they just laugh at us in there lingo, even while we sit with then! How do we know what they saying?”

This is not the first time the death of a tourist has put the microscope on Fiji but the stories that have emerged about Ms Maw’s relationship and the pictures plastered across the pages shows it as a country where you get ripped of, can’t take your safety for granted or trust local authorities.

Police commissioner BJJ Groenewald insists a post-mortem could not determine the cause of death and Ms Maw had to be cremated ‘because of the total decomposed situation of the body.’

Her family are less than satisfied: this is not a new complaint – the loved ones of other tourists who’ve had to turn to authorities have spoken of incompetency and lack of confidence in them.

A man was arrested yesterday and police say he is known to Ms Maw but are not in a position to release his name.

According to Tourism Fiji, visitor arrivals in September were up 4.5 percent from last year.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics said there had been 64,000 visitors so far and the final number should surpass the 675,000 peak recorded in 2011.

Visitors from New Zealand and the US were up 15 per cent, while arrivals from China jumped 25 percent. Australian arrivals had dropped 0.4 percent.

source – c4.5; posted by rusi varani for SWM

The bombshell Auditor General Reports for 2007 to 2013

November 10, 2014

The evidence of the Auditor General Reports indicates that Bainimarama and Khaiyum obtained significant personal financial advantage by paying themselves large increases in salary, decided by themselves.

By Professor Wadan Narsey
Fiji tax-payers have received an absolute bombshell regarding the use of their money by the Bainimarama Regime, with the simultaneous release of the Auditor General Reports for the years 2007 to 2013, all 28 volumes of them. (very much in keeping with the Diwali fireworks and in anticipation of the now forgotten Guy Fawkes night).
These reports are detailed audits of government incomes, expenditures and borrowings, usually tabled annually in Parliament by the Minister of Finance, as a “report on the performance of the government” for the previous year.
All taxpayers must understand what is in these reports, given that annually at least 25% (or more than a billion dollars) of their total incomes is forcibly taken from them by the government as taxes, hundreds of millions further are borrowed by the same government to be paid by the current and future tax payers, and the entire revenue is then spent allegedly on tax-payers’ behalf.

The Auditor General Reports try to verify whether the taxes are being collected according to the law, whether loans are being borrowed responsibly and as planned, and whether the revenues are being spent the way that parliament approved or as stated in the Annual Budget documents, or whether there are deficiencies in the above.

Upon tabling in parliament and with the elected parliamentarians, the Auditor General Reports are usually released to the media, and hence to the public to monitor and act if they see fit.
That is what used to happen annually for forty six years after independence in 1970.
Then the cycle was broken by Commodore Bainimarama who seized power through a coup in December 2006.

Principles of a sound audit
It is useful to first outline the basic principles which the owners of all organizations, private or public, expect from a good audit whether in accounting, economics or management:
The Auditor General must be totally independent of the Fiji Government (reasonably so) and must be adequately resourced (not so, according to his reports);
The government ministries must give the Auditor General every information that they ask for (they refused in a number of cases);
The audit must clearly point out the major faults (done pretty well), as well as the remedies to the owners, the people of Fiji (not so good);
The owners must be able to make the organizational changes that are necessary to eliminate the faults pointed out (little chance of that);
The next audit must check to see if the faults pointed out the previous year have been rectified (often not rectified) and the public notified of these failures (not done).
Despite the Auditor General’s best efforts, some of these principles have been significantly compromised by the Bainimarama Government (as given in the brackets above), the most obvious being the complete failure to report annually.

No AG Reports from 2007 to 2013
For seven years, the Auditor General Reports have been prepared and submitted to the Bainimarama Cabinet by a very brave group of civil servants in the Auditor General’s Office (read here my appreciation of them).
But the Bainimarama Government and Minister of Finance refused to release any of the AG Reports, despite the many requests from the public and international condemnation. Read here one of my last critical articles to appear in The Fiji Times, 28 October 2008:https://narseyonfiji.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/when-security-guards-rob-the-bank-and-the-surveillance-report-goes-to-the-robbers-the-fiji-times-28-october-2008/)

The flimsy excuse was that the law required Bainimarama to table the reports in Parliament and because there was no parliament (which he himself had removed), he did not have to table the reports, totally ignoring that the fundamental objective was for the Bainimarama Government to report to the people, not some empty hall in the Parliamentary complex at Veiuto or Government buildings.

For eight years, the unelected illegal Bainimarama Government completely controlled the raising of taxes and loans, and the spending of all revenues, without any accountability whatsoever to the people.

Then, after becoming an elected Prime Minister in September 2014 (promising “equality for all” and “if you don’t want another coup, vote for me”), he released all seven sets of Auditor General Reports, totaling 28 reports altogether.

They are now being read by the curious media and the public, many understandably searching for evidence of abuse and misuse of tax-payers’ funds.
The revelations in the reports
Professor Biman Prasad, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee which is charged with examining the AG Reports, has already stated that “it has become abundantly clear there has been widespread abuse of public funds and blatant disregard of fundamental financial procedures (as well as) … pilferage, wastage and abuse of public funds”.

Professor Prasad noted that there had been “continuous disregard of recommendations by the Auditor-General” indicating that the Bainimarama Government carried on “business as usual” year after year for eight years, making no attempt at correcting the mistakes being pointed out by the Auditor General.

These conclusions are quite damming of Bainimarama’s performance as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and also of the two most important Permanent Secretaries – of Finance and Public Service.

They also explain why Bainimarama and Khaiyum were adamant in not releasing the reports before the September 2014 elections, given that they would have inevitably influenced the outcome and certainly Bainimarama’s support.

With Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party campaign claiming great honesty, transparency, accountability and opposition to corruption, the Opposition parliamentarians can now legitimately state that the evidence in the Auditor General’s Reports suggest that the 2014 elections were won by Bainimarama and Khaiyum using lies and deceit.

Of relevance to this claim is the personal integrity of Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bainimarama and Attorney General Khaiyum, with respect to the salaries that they paid themselves during 2010 and 2013, and the blatant abuse of process of payment.
Ministers’ salaries
While the Public Accounts Committee will no doubt investigate the many revelations of costly abuse of public funds and lack of transparency and accountability, the public will be especially interested in the revelations about ministerial salaries between 2010 and 2013, and what is still not being revealed.
The public already know that in November 2011, Regime supporters John Samy and the late Archbishop Mataca (Co-Chairman of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji) wrote a letter to Bainimarama, complaining about the increasing lack of transparency and accountability of his Government.

source – wn blog; posted by rusi varani for swm.

How will Fiji repay the $US20m Qatar paid to free soldiers?

November 5, 2014

Fiji soldiers freed: at what price?

There’ll be many issues for the Opposition to dig into with the budget due later this month but one it can’t lose sight of is the deal made by the regime with Qatar to free the 45 peacekeepers.

A deal was made that much is certain: we’re only missing the finer details.

Some of the answers are already there for us: look to the speech Epeli Nailatikau gave detailing the plans of ‘his government’. We quote:

“With a view to reducing fuel prices and increasing our

Israel TV footage: UN finalising deal with Al  Nusra

buying power, my government will follow the lead of Mauritius in taking control of the import of all fossil fuel, such as petroleum and gas, in place of the existing private companies. We will call for international tenders for the supply of fuel and the existing companies will then buy that fuel from the government.

“As well as being able to negotiate lower prices in the international marketplace, the government will generate revenue from the sale of fuel, establish price stability and be able to pass on the benefits of competitive prices to consumers.”

Fiji has tried this before and it did not work: it ended up in debt. But what’s in it for the key players who hustled the deal: Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, Inoke Kubuabola and Robin Nair?

So much of Fiji has already been sold to China; we need to know what else is now being peddled without our knowledge or mandate.

This was a deal, too, that narked the international community: while the United Nations insisted it didn’t deal

Robin Nair: Fiji Day in Abu Dhabi

with terrorists, it facilitated negotiations for Qatar to pay the US$20m ransom sought by Al Nusra.

Israel TV footage clearly shows UN officials and Al Nusra finalizing the deal, despite the US and the UK saying they don’t negotiate with terrorist organisations and even as the terrorists continue to hold and behead journalists and aid workers.

Qatar pays ransom: international report
https://twitter.com/theLemniscat/status/510822567452901377

source – c4.5; posted by rusi varani for swm

Fiji regime presents ‘clean’ human rights report to UN – What a load of crap

October 31, 2014

The regime delegation to the UN: ‘We’re all happy in Fiji’

First the Auditor’s General report now human rights.

A regime delegation is in Geneva presenting a Human Rights report to the United Nations claiming to have resolved breaches.

Led by Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the delegation delivered a 22 page report saying Fiji has met 97 out of 103 recommendations by the UN.

Here’s some of the bullshit presented to the UN:

Khaiyum told the panel Fiji will ratify human rights treaties and is committed to making changes, where needed, to align local rights laws and policies with accepted international standards.

He promoted the 2013 Constitution at length, describing it “as an expression of will of the people” that reflects values that provides for, protects and promotes rights of all its citizens and should be aspired to universally.

Khaiyum said while the country has not acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, the 2013 Constitution provides for and promotes these rights under the Bill of Rights.

With regard to  Women’s Rights, he said these are consistent with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which Fiji ratified in 1995.

“Our Constitution protects all Fijians from unfair discrimination including on the grounds of sex, gender identity and expression, pregnancy, marital status, culture, religion, social origin, conscience and social or health status,” he said.

“These grounds that I have just read out are all new grounds and weren’t in any of the previous constitutions.”

Khaiyum: Spewing lies

Khaiyum told the council the Military Code will be amended by Parliament as a matter of priority to remove the reference of death penalty altogether.

In regard to reports of assault on citizens while in police custody, he said where evidence of such assaults have been shown to be sufficient for prosecution as determined by the Director of Prosecutions, “such persons have been prosecuted and some are currently serving terms of imprisonment for such acts.”

He told the council that under the constitution, police procedures have been modernised and made more transparent to address and avoid acts of assault in police custody.

In regard to public service, he told the council that the Fijian Public Service policy is now based on meritocracy, after he Fijian Government has done away “with discriminatory policies for the public services put in place by previous governments” which introduced policies that “only further advanced an elite agenda and clique.”

“In light of this experience, all appointments in the public service are now made on the basis of qualification and performance alone. The public service is currently undergoing reforms which will ensure that the systemic prejudice based on race, ethnicity, gender identity and religion is eliminated.”

Chief Justice Anthony Gates also made a presentation to address matters pertaining to the judiciary, Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde addressed matters pertaining to the administration of the criminal justice system and MIDA Chairman Ashwin Raj is to address matters pertaining to media freedom.

source -c4.5, posted by rusi varani for swm

Bainimarama punishes North for promising to vote for him then voting SODELPA

October 28, 2014

Now starts the era of revenge.

Frank Bainimarama claims “Nobody will be left out” and yet two years ago he withdrew aid from two cyclone-damaged villages because they refused to swear allegiance to him.

Media coverage and stories such as “PM: Supporter first on my list” during the weekend tell us exactly where taxpayer and international aid money is going to be spent by Fiji First.

If Bainimarama has his way, the North will go begging because according to him he was betrayed by villages that said they would vote for Fiji First but voted instead for SODELPA.(Fiji Sun October 26)

“Everyone pays tax – either it is through VAT, income tax or licence,” says Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa. “The people are entitled to any developments required.”The Opposition has been quick to remind Bainimarama the country’s coffers are not his personal funds.

The party’s Shadow Minister of Itaukei Affairs, Naiqama Lalabalavu, says Bainimarama’s threats to cut off SODELPA supporters show

“It is consistent with what he did in early 2013 with the Tui Vitogo and his people,” he says.what type of government is in office.

“It is similar to the threat he made to Niko Nawaikula’s supporters.”

Lalabalavu also asks:

“How does he know who did not vote for him? What does he
Foreign aid donors are being urged to note Bainimarama’s bias and to secure guarantees to any funds given to Fiji. have from the Elections office that will allow him to identify who did or did not vote for him?”

“Taxpayers include many who did not vote for Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party,” says Lalabalavu.

“They have equal rights for their tax dollars to be used for their well-being.”

The threats to the North follow the one last week to withhold development support from people who voted for Niko Nawaikula, after he said the good in the Constitution should be extracted and the rest discarded.

Bainimarama went on to accuse Nawaikula of threatening a coup.

Nawaikula said at the time: “This type of behaviour is blackmail….and for the Fiji First Government to use this same tactic ust 11 days after the first sitting of our new Parliamet in8 nyears, is a sign of what the people can expect as the ‘real intent’ of this government.”

Cynicism runs wide because of the well-documented revenge taken against Lautoka villages Vitogo and Naviyago, soon after Cyclone Evan devastated the West in December 2012.

After Tui Vitogo refused to support Bainimarama,  the dictator ordered material to rebuild damaged homes removed.

The suspension of funds was confirmed in writing to all government departments on January 23rd 2013 in a circular signed by then Commissioner Western, Joeli Cawaki.

The Opposition has also called on Bainimarama to drop his conditions for Fiji returning to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Bainimarama insists Fiji will only return when New Zealand and Australia opt out and become development partners.

 

source- C4.5; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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