TOURISM Fiji expects its budget to remain at $23.5 million.
This will be the third year that the tourism marketing body receives the same allocation in the national budget. After years of fighting for a fixed budget, Tourism Fiji was finally heard in 2009. Outgoing Tourism Fiji chief executive officer Josefa Tuamoto said the grant had led Tourism Fiji to a new direction but had also helped in the drawing up of new marketing strategies which in turn has seen an increase in visitor numbers surpassing those in previous years.
Tourism Fiji is expected to continue targeting BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Tourism Fiji has set a target to surpass 1 million visitors by 2016. It is expected to hit the $1billion mark in earnings this year.
THE Department of Energy is anticipating an increase in its budget allocation for next year. This is to allow it to continue its rural electrification scheme, which is providing stand alone generator-powered projects in rural areas and outer islands.
In a government statement earlier, Director for Energy Peceli Nakavulevu did not state an amount but said the department needed an increase to allow the implementation of the Fiji Electricity Authority scheme.
"We will continue with the implementation of the FEA schemes and stand-alone generator powered projects in which the customers have paid their contributions in full," Mr Nakavulevu said.
From the $3.7million allocated to the department this year, close to 1, 500 homes have been assisted through government's rural electrification project around the country, especially to areas where access to proper electricity is only a dream for many.
Mr Nakavulevu said the department was hoping to supply and install solar home systems to another 1, 500 homes in 2012.
Women & Social Welfare
AMONG the many requests, the Finance Ministry would have received from ministries and departments, is a humble request from Ministry for Women and Social Welfare to build shelters for women market vendors.
Minister Doctor Jiko Luveni revealed this at the International Council of Women 5th Asia Pacific Regional Conference being held in Denarau, Nadi.
Dr Luveni said her department had made a submission to the Ministry of Finance for funds to build the shelter.
"We are hopeful that the request will be considered and included in next year's government budget allocation," she said.
During her presentation, Dr Luveni discussed efforts made through the Department of Women to economically empower women.
"The Ministry for Women activities have included the establishment of women centres and we are starting with one centre per province.
"These will act as a venue for incubation, quality control and marketing efforts for women's business products and goods as well as women's health programs.
THE 2012 Budget should have a universal social pension for every person more than 70 years old.
The Fiji Council of Social Services, in its submissions, wants these senior citizens to have free medical care at all government hospitals and medical facilities.
This would mean a great deal to the rural elderly and strengthen the National Policy Framework for the Older Persons, according to FCOSS.
In the council's 2012 Budget submission to the Ministry of Finance, executive director Hassan Khan said grants to civil society organisations should be restored to 2005 levels.
"This will be a very positive step as the CSOs will be able to work on areas of community outreach in the prevention of drugs and substance abuse, family strengthening, home care for the elderly, crime prevention and mobilising the community for social economic development," Mr Khan said.
"This will be a more positive and cost effective way then to increase expenses on more court houses and expanding correctional services."
Mr Khan said it was time for the government to seriously consider merging six councils that dealt with the promotion of health under different council labels.
As a first step, he said, the government should carry out a social and financial audit of the six councils because they could all be dealt under the National Council for Health Promotion with different programs.