Letters to the Editor – July 7

Bollywood actor Salman Khan pictured with fans and a Fiji flag in support for the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team to the Rugby World Cup. Picture: SUPPLIED

RWC 7s target

YESTERDAY’S front page aroused a lot of interest for two reasons.

The first was the excitement within fans as our 7s boys hit Utah.

Even superstar and Bollywood king and betaaj badshaa Salman Khan could not resist the opportunity to take pictures with 7s fans holding our national flag.

That’s the power and appeal of Fijian rugby. The second was more worrying as it pointed out the fact that even our beautiful islands have been hit with cocaine.

This is scary and I hope that authorities will act fast in getting our borders tight so that such hard drugs are prevented from plaguing our young ones. I must, at the outset, also commend the officers for acting fast and confiscating the $31m worth of drugs. Drug peddlers are targeting Fiji so every effort must be taken to make their efforts futile.

I’d rather leave this issue to the relevant authorities and focus on what I love writing the most about — rugby 7s. It’s nice to read that our boys have settled well in Utah and await powerhouse Radradra to join them.

On the other hand, the Melrose Cup has evaded our shores since the last win dating back to 2005 under Wayne Pivac and Jo Savou’s leadership and the likes of Serevi, Vunibaka, Daunivucu, Ryder, Nanuku, the Satala brothers, Naevo, Rawaqa and speed merchant Bobo. I have been tasked by some of my friends to write about our 1997 and 2005 victories at the So Kon Po Stadium and I will do so when the RWC 7s gets nearer.

The inaugural RWC 7s held in Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1993, the 2001 tournament held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the 2009 RWC 7s in the United Arab Emirates and the 2013 RWC 7s in Russia deserted Fiji.

Let’s hope that the narrow pitch in San Francisco will favour Fiji to become the first team to win three RWC 7s titles.

Toso Viti toso!

Rajesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Getting it right

THE Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) wishes to address inaccuracies published on page 5 of The Fiji Times on July 3, 2018, titled ‘Villagers call for an audit’.

According to the article, the Nacula Village Rural Water Project was funded by the Office of the Prime Minister.

This is not true; it is funded by the Water Authority of Fiji.

The article claims that one water tank has been installed in the village, instead of WAF providing a more permanent water source.

This is inaccurate.

While it is true that two, not one, Rototanks have been provided as rain harvesting storage tanks, these have been installed at the church and the village hall to supplement the water supply and storage capacity for the village.

The installation of the two tanks is not WAF’s only response to the plight of the Nacula villagers.

As for the claim that nothing has been done to find a more permanent solution for the water woes experienced by the people of Nacula Village, work is currently in progress to upgrade the existing Dronamo Dam. Once this is completed, the newly scoped, Macaqele Dam will also be constructed by the team.

Both of these sources only fill up in times of heavy rainfall, with a discharge rate of 0.2 litres per second, which could be as low as 0.1litres during prolonged dry seasons.

WAF is addressing this by constructing surface water source, borehole source and also by ensuring there are sufficient storage tanks available during times of heavy rainfall.

Unreported in The Fiji Times article is any mention of the fact that an additional scope was added to this project.

After the request made by the mata ni tikina, for the upgrading of 17 existing wells, an additional 17 culverts were bought for this extra work.

Also unreported, repairs were made to the six existing ferro cement tanks, so these could also be used for as water storage and a new 10,000 gallon ferro cement storage tank has been constructed.

The total cost of the project is $273,000. On completion of the Nacula Village water project, the village would have several water sources to complement each other to ensure there is enough water for use by the community. We hope this clarifies our position.

Samanmal Ekanayake, Chief Operating Officer, Water Authority of Fiji (The report was based on a district representative’s comments during a talanoa session with the Prime Minister last week. A representative from WAF was also part of the session and was quoted in our report. We endeavor to get things right and welcome such clarification – Editor)

Price of alcohol

I BELIEVE the assertion that the increase in price of alcohol and cigarettes will perpetuate poverty is bereft of logic.

It is common knowledge that these goods are harmful to our health. That is why they are commonly known as sin goods.

It is entirely up to the individual to make a choice whether he wants to enjoy a healthy life or ruin it through addiction to alcohol and cigarettes.

NCDs have become the number one killer in Fiji.

The Government is doing its level best to reverse the situation through its various awareness programs and initiatives aimed at promoting healthy living.

As responsible citizens we also have a duty to look after our health and avoid overindulgence. The price of kava has jumped threefold but there is no reciprocal decrease in consumption.

Comparatively alcohol is cheaper than kava now.

Even if the price is reduced what is the guarantee that the savings will be spent on purchasing healthy foods.

On a positive note it is encouraging to learn that some villages have imposed a ban on the consumption of kava except during traditional ceremonies.

SELWA NANDAN, Lautoka

Billboard message

ALL Fijian families are special but I believe the budget was a disappointment for the majority of families for it did not improve their standard of living.

Dan Urai Lautoka World Cup soccer irony France, Brazil, Sweden and Russia have six letters each while their opponents Uruguay, Belgium, England and Croatia have seven letters each.

Ironically, the 2018 World Cup soccer quarter-finals will be played on July 6 and 7.

Let’s see which teams win — those with six letters or those with seven letters!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Natabua road

THANK you Edward for the update on the four-lane road for Natabua.

I also heard there is a proposal for a double storey road to be built. Yedow!

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Cocaine concern

IT’S a cause of disquiet the finding of $F31 million worth of cocaine on an island in the Lau Group despite the swift actions by authorities.

While we applaud the co-operation of civilians, it’s a concern that rogues have infiltrated our borders.

We need stricter security. Amenatave Yaconisau Palm Drive, Delainavesi Great market Congratulations to Fiji Airways for returning to Japan after a few years lapse. Japan is always a great market and the visitors from Japan are also familiar with Fiji as the culture and tradition is still very much intact.

Vice versa a lot of Fijians travel to Japan on education, cultural exchange, sports and even entertainment.

Japanese tourists are always clean and tidy as they proved in the World Cup in Russia, spend a lot of money and are also long stayers. The re-introduction of the Narita flights is a major boost for Fiji and Fiji tourism.

Tomasi Boginiso Nepani, Nasinu

Mill breakdown

I REFER to the statement by Dr Biman Prasad on the Lautoka mill breakdown after a $16 million refurbishment.

Whenever a new installation is done mechanical or electrical there is a commissioning done where problems are rectified. With a sugar mill the actual commissioning process can be only done when the cane is brought in.

Than there is this “Murphy’s Law” which states if anything can go wrong it will!

Sukha Singh, Labasa

Coke find

This is the second time within a space of a month that cocaine worth $31 million have been found on Fiji’s shores as reported in the front page of The Fiji Times, 06/07 titled cocaine find.

On June 22 at Port Denarau following the raid on the yacht Shenanigans, police discovered cocaine and methamphetamine with the estimated price between $20m to $30m and two weeks later $31m worth of cocaine was found in the Lau Group.

This is a serious problem that needs immediate attention, because we know the intense situation behind trafficking huge amounts of drugs like such on our shores.

While I thank the departments and people who have put in extra efforts for these drugs to be confiscated, however, I would like to humbly request our Government to re-look into its policies, especially on hard drugs like cocaine, and strengthen it to deter drug traffickers on our beautiful isles.

Kositatino Tikomaibolatagane, Vuninokonoko Rd, Navua

Couple of observations

Congratulations on presentation of the budget.

Just a couple of observations that the Government of the day may want to ponder on: 1) Traffic congestion — This can be greatly reduced by adopting laws similar to Australia or New Zealand.

I am sure these governments will be happy to help with their experience unless someone is injured, state property is damaged, or a tow truck is required, the drivers of the vehicles can exchange registration details, drivers’ licence details and promptly remove the vehicle so other vehicles continue using the road.

Within 24 hours they need to lodge an accident report to the nearest police station or via online.

This will save the country a bundle of lost hours and also save the add-on accidents.

If they are insured then the insurance companies can get the details by logging in to the data centre.

No need to run around and look for the police who made the report: and 2) Environmentally friendly — Kudos to the government for its initiatives.

Plastic bag levy up by 100 per cent — fair; LLDPE stretch wrap duty up from 5 per cent to 32 per cent — fair.

However, the “big” manufacturer can import this as packaging material under “concession” and possibly pay maximum five per cent while the “small” manufacturer is unable to import this under concession as he can’t meet the overseas suppliers’ MOQ per run and will have to buy from an importer and distributor of this item but the importer has to pay 32 per cent duty and naturally recover same from the “small” guy.

This is not a level playing field. This government seems to be trying to help the smaller guys but may have not realised the small manufacturers who do not have big buying power, may have been overlooked.

Another example — big people involved in waste disposal business can import big diameter plastic pipes (not manufactured in Fiji) at five per cent duty while other small operators have to buy the same item from importers but they have the disadvantage of duty at 32 per cent.

I believe Government needs to level the playing field so small guys are not disadvantaged. Let everyone import at the same rate.

My two cents worth of comments.

Bhavin Mistry, Suva

WAF team

I would like to say a big thank you to the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) team in Lautoka. During the Vaturu Dam shutdown, we ran out of water and just one phone call and they sorted this out within an hour.

Bula vinaka to the team.

K. Sahai, Simla, Lautoka

WC soccer excitement

The biggest sporting event has seen upsets and heaps of excitement, disappointments and goals.

The quarter-final kicked off with the Uruguay (13th appearance and two time winners) versus France (15th appearance and one time winner) and thrills and spills from 19-year-old Mbappe, who became the first teen to equal Pele’s feat of scoring twice in a World Cup match.

France has fast players in Kante, Pogba, Giroud, Dembele, Hugo, Griezmann and Pogba with mastermind in Didier Deschamps while Uruguay will heavily rely on the golden touches from Pereira, Vecino, Godin, Tabarez, Suarez and Cavani.

Not only did the La Celeste win Group A, it did so without giving up a goal in group play and in recent meetings Uruguay won 1-0 in 2012 while the teams ended goalless in 2013.

I feel that for the 20th anniversary of its World Cup victory in 1998, France will be looking to make waves.

The second quarter-final should live up to expectations. Belgium takes on Brazil, which has won the most World Cup soccer titles (five) and appearances (21), scored the highest number of goals, has one of the best defensive records and has made a seventh consecutive WC quarter-final.

However, Brazil is yet to win since the magic in 2002. The Roberto Matinez coached Red Devils, which is one of the most talented and decorated teams on paper, has grit and spark in attack and tore Japan apart with three scintillating goals in one of the best comebacks. It will bring out the best from Neymar, Willian, Coutinho, Jesus, Paulinho, Lukaku, Hazard, Bruyne and Fellaini.

Brazil has won against Belgium (2-0 in 2002 and 2-1 in 1988) and continues its quest for a sixth title.

The always-great Brazil side looks favourites to win and I reckon this team has quality everywhere and it’s hard to find a weak spot.

Sunday morning will bring out the best from England and Sweden and Russia and Croatia.

England will rely on their form, lady luck and Kane to continue with his goal scoring spree.

The cloud of dread that haunted England in previous WC penalty shootouts has been broken and the team has been given a psychological boost.

The last time England met Sweden was in 2012 and both teams have a win each. Sweden, which is featuring in its 12th World Cup, beat England 4-2 while England beat Sweden 3-2.

Despite missing Zlatan Ibrahimovich Sweden will hope that Lindelof, Forsberg, Claesson, Svensson, Larsson and Guidetti find their feet.

The fourth quarter-final will bind Russians against giants Croatia, in its fifth World Cup appearance, laced with stars Vida, Modric, Rakitic, Lovren and Kovacic. Croatia’s best finish was third place finish in 1998.

Russia, on the other hand, by virtue of being hosts qualified for the world cup but has set the stage alight after knocking out Spain.

The Russians will be no pushover and backed by huge crowd will surge for an upset.

Thus, I wish team Brazil all the best. My pick — France versus Brazil and England versus Croatia semis and Brazil to lift the WC cup!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Four big ones

Of the eight quarter-finalists, only four teams have won the World Cup in the past.

Brazil last won in 2002, France in 1998, England in 1966 while Uruguay won in 1950.

Of the four teams that have tasted glory in the past, only two (France and Brazil) have won in the past 50 years.

Additionally, there has only been three first-time champions in the past 40 years. Argentina won for the first time in 1978, France won for the first time in 1998 and Spain won for the first time in 2010.

The rest of the champions in the past 40 years had won the cup in the past.

Judging by history, I would predict Neymar and Brazil to prevail against Belgium and France to conquer Uruguay to set up a mouth-watering semifinal showdown.

On the other side of the bracket, the only team to have ever tasted glory is England who would be favourites to progress to the semi-final.

Croatia versus Russia would be very hard to predict even though Croatia are highly favoured to progress.

I am predicting Brazil, France, Russia and England to progress.

Go France go.

Shad Alfaz Ali, Navua

Brutality claim

The allegation of police brutality in one of the maritime stations last week is unfortunate and is an unprofessional approach as far as the police force is concerned.

I believe this sort of unprofessional approach will only surface when officers fail to gather critical information and evidence and try to jump to conclusions.

Whoever gave the directive for the arrest of the complainant without concrete evidence should be accountable for the actions taken by the officers.

I believe police work nowadays revolves around professionalism, ethics, human rights, powers of arrest and what not.

I believe the days of torturing suspects and vakaveitalia are over. It was accepted by the society at that time, but not today.

Pita Soroaqali, Nadarivatu.

Borrowing funds

Don’t they understand that all developing countries need to borrow and have debt?

Or do they understand but just like to scare people and get votes, or are they deliberately lying?

I believe there is such a thing as good debt and there is such a thing as bad debt.

I believe bad debt is borrowing money to meet recurring expenditures — a bad habit for government.

Good debt is borrowing to finance critical infrastructure to benefit future generations.

I believe this enables economic growth and creates jobs. Apparently, debt is like a nuclear energy that can be used for “good or evil”.

This simple explanation also applies to families.

Borrowing money for education, medical care and business loans are good debts. Bad debt would be borrowing to sustain credit card, purchase of expensive jewellery and clothes and for payday loans.

It’s important to understand the difference between good and bad debt.

I believe Fiji’s continuous investment in its infrastructure demonstrates the Government’s acknowledgment that infrastructure is linked to economic growth.

It is vital that we invest in infrastructure because of many years of neglect by previous governments, hence the need to borrow.

Dharmendra Kumar, Rewa St, Suva

World Chocolate Day

Well here it is guys, July 7, the one we’ve all been waiting for! World Chocolate Day, sometimes also referred to as International Chocolate Day.

While many health-conscious people stay away from chocolate because of its calorie count, some studies have shown chocolate to act as a stress reducer. Among the different kinds of chocolates, dark chocolate is reported to be the healthiest.

OBSERVE — Enjoy some of your favourite chocolate today.

HISTORY — Within our research, we were unable to find the origins of World Chocolate Day.

World Chocolate Day is celebrated annually on July 7.

This is a day to indulge in your favourite chocolate, whether it is chocolate milk, hot chocolate, a chocolate candy bar, chocolate cake, brownies or something covered in chocolate.

Pick your favourite ones today — or hope you might get one as a present.

Neelz Singh, Lami

Separate lane

I too wish to respond to Narayan Ra eddy’s letter on a separate lane for cane trucks and to also adjust Scribe’s views on the topic. Separate lane for something that only happens six months a year is unrealistic and we can add the bicycle lane to that category. I do subscribe to a separate lane, but let it be a bus lane for obvious reasons and footpaths be constructed, which can also be used for bicycles.

Nigel Fiu, Lautoka

Plastic bags

YOUR correspondent Nardeo Mishra is absolutely correct in asserting that increasing the tax on plastic bags is not the best solution to discourage their usage (FT 3/7).

Not only it is discriminatory because it is selectively applied but it also undermines the rationale behind its imposition.

It should be either totally banned or tax should be levied on all plastic bags irrespective for what purpose they are used.

They are still available at outlets other than supermarkets free.

Maybe, if the levy is increased to 50 cents then the shoppers will think twice before buying them.

The objective should be to create incentives for shoppers to switch to other substitutes such as biodegradable and paper bags by making them more affordable by either subsidising the cost or reducing the import duty.

Once the demand for plastic shopping bags is curtailed it will eventually lead to its demise.

Some of the supermarkets are offering cartons in place of plastic bags but even the cartons have to be disposed of.

One option worth considering is for supermarkets to give away a free non-plastic bag for purchases above say $50 or be allowed to claim tax rebate on their sales.

Selwa Nandan, Lautoka

Thank you

I THANK Premila Kumar (CEO Consumer Council of Fiji) for always replying to people’s queries that are sent to the letters to the Editor’s column.

While some people in authority way look down upon queries sent via this medium, they have to remember that for some it’s the last resort for them to be heard.

Be like Ms Kumar and do the right thing.

Oh and I forgot, Hasmukh Patel of EFL, thank you kindly sir.

If you are in Lautoka, Kava Place invites you to a bowl of kava.

We won’t talk about electricity.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Climate action

A leaflet that I had read re-enforced the importance of supporting “climate action” initiatives especially in the Pacific region.

This medium of awareness was titled “Climate Change Facts”, and presented the following: These are facts and are not in dispute.

1. The Earth is warming;

2. Climate has always changed – but never this rapidly in human history;

3. Today’s warming is mainly due to emissions from fossil fuels;

4. Sea levels are rising;

5. The Arctic is melting; 6. The oceans are becoming more acidic;

7. Weather events are becoming more intense and frequent;

8. Small changes in temperature have immense consequences; and

9. Climate change will impact people in many ways.

The above listings cannot be overemphasised and thus requires effective teamwork as a nation and the Pacific as a whole to support and appreciate the various “climate action” programs.

Have a blessed and safe weekend!

Spencer Robinson, Suva

Tax evaders

I am indeed thankful the Government has come down really hard on tax evaders of the past.

I believe some leading supermarkets in this country have been too smart in the past decades depriving our country of taxes.

I believe their tax goosestep methods became ineffective when FijiFirst took over, causing and forcing a few to pay millions to FRCA coffers.

I believe no one can hide from FijiFirst because they have all types of magnifying glasses which can expose all hidden taxes which must go to Government.

Suliasi K Tamanalevu, Nasinu

Monthly allowance

CAN I request Government to approve a monthly allowance of $50 – $100 per child to assist with the increase in daily living expenses.

I believe approving a baby bonus payment for those earning under the $30k is just misleading, unrealistic and will just make life harder for them.

I view it as a first world country approach and will just contribute to the ever increasing poverty line.

I believe it sounds such as the story of one blind leading another.

Michael Mon Chambers, Kermode Rd, Lautoka

Bula time

The annual week-long event, the Bula Festival, will start in the Jetset Town of Nadi next Saturday.

As usual, the festival will start with a float procession and marching bands through the town on Saturday.

People from all walks of life come in huge numbers to witness this special feature every year.

To the tourists, the main attraction is the police band, not to mention the school marching bands as the flicking camera lights tell you.

Many videos are also made of the event and quickly uploaded on social media so that people around the world see them.

This is how our digitalised world looks today.

From this week, the stalls start to take shape at Koroivolu Park.

I think the cultural program and public judging will be staged at the Prince Charles Park as usual.

Let’s welcome the festival and make the most of it with our friends and families.

Do not forget to taste the barbecue which is nicely cooked at the ground.

I wish the festival all the very best.

Suresh Chand, Nadi

Greener pastures

One of my nieces, her husband and their three children left Fiji about four years ago in search of a better life.

Some people call it greener pastures.

A few days ago, while chatting with her on Facebook she said, “Uncle, the grass was not green for us, but it was greener than where we came from”.

From living in rental flats in Fiji and struggling to make ends meet on a minimum wage and her being unable to get a job, her husband decided that they leave.

He was able to get them overseas because of his tradesman certificates and diploma.

He has good references from his past employer.

One thing that she said which caught my full attention was when she said they struggled when they got there.

Rent is $700 a week for starters.

Despite that, they managed to buy a decent car and she found a job.

Their dream is to buy a home because they have been given permanent residency.

The three children all go to school.

Her eldest son works in the afternoons and on the weekends.

Long story short — she said, “Uncle, the grass was not that green when we came, but with determination and perseverance we will make the grass greener, much more greener”.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Something to ponder on

With so much increase in the number of vehicles on our roads, I feel it’s time that Land Transport Authority (LTA) establishes itself in other parts of Fiji as well so that the public has easier access to pay fines and get the vehicle inspected.

For example, in Nausori there is only one office and the population is quite high.

The number of LTA offices is not sufficient as drivers and other stakeholders have to wait for hours before they are served.

On a positive side, it is also very encouraging to see the increased presence of police and LTA officers on our roads.

I feel they are doing a marvelous job in ensuring that everyone is safe on our roads.

The attitude of some drivers is just disgusting.

Adding to that is the number of drunk drivers.

So many have been booked for speeding and dangerous driving — a leading cause of road fatalities in Fiji.

On a technical point, the fines imposed on drivers are quite low.

For example, a driver gets a fine of $25 for speeding when this could have resulted in casualties.

In foreign countries, the fines are relatively high and drivers get disciplined for infringements.

LTA in Fiji should also revise the current fining system.

If drivers become irresponsible and reckless on the roads, then they do not deserve any chance on the road to take someone’s life.

Life, after all, is very precious. Together, we can make roads a safer place for all users.

Naveen Dutt, Wainibokasi