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Friday, October 31, 2014

Welfare of players

FIJI Rugby Union has been paying lip service to our sevens players rather than walk the talk in looking into their welfare.

It's not surprising that our elite rugby players, who have made us proud in the past, are resorting to overseas contracts as they are well looked after.

So much has come out of FRU, which is the parent body for all rugby organisations in Fiji, and it looks as if only a few of these have come into fruition. While we celebrate the emergence of young and talented players who have donned our national jumpers with pride, we must continue to make noise to let FRU know that part of rugby development that it continues to harp about, is the welfare of the players.

Be prepared to see more of our emerging players pack up for greener pastures.


Unaccounted for years

THE Auditor-General's reports for the unaccounted years have certainly exposed the mismanagement of public funds all around Government.

As a young person, I am very interested in the affairs and the spending of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, than the other ministries.

According to a The Fiji Times report (FT 27/10), because of poor planning and execution by the Ministry of Youth and Sports there was some $85k unused by the ministry.

This money was allocated for sports field projects for 2013. The report goes on to say unplanned projects were undertaken upon the directive from the Minister for Youth and Sports then.

Such incompetence has stopped the development of sporting facilities in rural areas and the young people in the rural areas continue to suffer.

It is, however, encouraging to know the same person no longer holds the minister's portfolio. I understand, though, that this person is still an elected MP, it is hilarious.

Would it be too much to ask for this guy to justify his shortfalls and explain to the young people what went wrong where?

And would it be right to ask for assurance from the new Minister for Youth and Sports and his Assistant Minister do a much better job in the next four years for youth and sports development in Fiji?


Beggar problem

THERE is nothing sociological in Pat Vuli's take on the growth of the street beggar population in Fiji (FT 30/10).

It is simplistic. It lacks understanding and is driven by the "punish the poor" mentality of the affluent society and "the culture of contentment" which nobel economist John Kenneth Galbraith has so poignantly written about (Culture of Contentment 1992).

I wonder if Pat Vuli has wondered why we have so many beggars on our streets when the political leadership has been claiming that the country has been prospering over the past eight years?

Pat Vuli should talk with Fr Kevin Barr or Professor Nii Plange.

It will help him shed his shallow thinking.

RAJEND NAIDU, Sydney, Australia

Tarseal to gravel

AS a taxpayer of this nation, I am still waiting for a reply from the Fiji Roads Authority as to why the following tarsealed roads have been reverted to dusty gravel roads - Siberia Branch Rd; Batanikama Rd; and Prince Andrew Rd.

The above roads are in a pathetic condition with potholes all over.

I wonder if Neil Cook, the CEO of FRA, has included the number of potholes the above roads have.

The contractors who have been assigned to carry out the road repairs are really sleeping on the job .

Residents living in the above areas are fed up with the poor service delivery and therefore request our honourable minister to look into this matter.


Thank you WAF

I HAVE been an ardent contributor to this column, social media and TV One, regarding the water problems that have plagued Kashmir, Lautoka, for the past 15 years.

We have received water now (FT 24/7) for the past five months, however, I have held my words of praise and gratitude until today. There has been a reason for this.

Namely down to the fact that we started receiving water overnight, so, obviously there was no major work done apart from diverting water from elsewhere to provide us.

Soon after, WAF constructed a new road above my home to facilitate laying of water pipes, that would connect us, to our now famous Kashmir Reservoir - the largest in Fiji.

That connection will take place, as in the words of the water engineer who visited me with WAF CEO, Mr Ravai, by the end of this week.

Mr Ravai wanted no public words of appreciation, however, I emphasised to him, you have achieved what no one else did in the past 15 years, so a simple word of thank you, would be in order.

There will indeed be great celebration in the Kashmir area when they turn on that valve at the end of the week, permanently ending our water woes.

Well done Water Authority of Fiji.


Kadavu raids

IT is alarming to read the news that the Kadavu Provincial Council has passed a motion for the police raid team to revisit Kadavu as there has been another increase in marijuana cultivation on the island.

This motion has come after the council was informed by the provincial administrator in Kadavu that the biggest number of criminal cases recorded in Kadavu for 2012 and last year were marijuana cultivation and rape.

To have the delegates pass this motion would mean that the chiefly instructions and village meetings requesting the youths to refrain from planting marijuana has fallen on deaf ears.

There must be a market available 24/7 where those who plant marijuana could get big money easily which makes them disregard their chiefs, their church and even their village elders and their parents.

This Government wants all of us to be smart Fijians not stoned iTaukei and while those in Kadavu should help the police in uprooting marijuana, the rest of us should help the police in identifying and closing the buyers that encourage the cultivation in the first place.


PSC reforms

WITH so many reforms surfacing suddenly, I am drawn to fathom that either the back log of unattended reforms, putting things in perspective was ignored for way too long or those tasked with the work were sleeping over their work.

More so, the Public Service Commission is under a lot of scrutiny now.

So this means some people have been negligent of their responsibility.

While changes are good, but too sudden a change can have detrimental impact on the human resource.

There is no denial that some ministries such as the Education Ministry is forever on its toes, well prepared, informed, so the focus should shift to those that have been languid to do the work required of them.

MOE has always been abreast with reforms, implementation, fundamentally its timing of response has always been as quick as a fox.

So the focal point should be other sectors that were in leisure for way too long.


Don't compare

WITH all the hype about reduced electricity rates, the Minister for Infrastructure made it clear that Fiji still has the lowest electricity bills in the Pacific region which also includes Australia and New Zealand. I am wondering why do we have to compare ourselves with these two countries when we can't match the wages the workers there get paid.


Who is first

I REQUEST Mr Prime Minister not to drop his popularity by making unprofessional statements. Be for all Fijians and not only FijiFirst.


Retirement age

IF the mandatory retirement age for civil servants is 55, why are some individuals, some of whom are holding senior positions, still employed in the civil sector? Apparently, this debatable rule is not applicable to all. The Police Commissioner, who is well over 55, is just a fine example. At his age, this bloke should be kicking back and enjoying his retirement right now.



LAUTOKA, the jaywalking capital of Fiji. It's a city where pedestrians seem to take great pride in committing multiple jaywalking violations by crossing where they want, when they want. In Lautoka, pedestrians have the right of way, vehicles have to yield to them.


Medicine, VAT

ON page 10 of the FijiFirst manifesto, paragraph five, it says FijiFirst will continue to place zero VAT on powdered milk, rice, edible oil, tin fish, flour, sharps and medicines. According to the Fiji Customs Tariff, there is 15 per cent VAT on medicines, all the rest are OK. I hope they know this. Furthermore, milk for infant use is duty and VAT free, yet the cost of a can in the pharmacies is high.


Fuel prices

THE price of a barrel of oil currently stands at around $US80. It was $US115 in June this year. This is a drop of 30 per cent. I fail to therefore comprehend why fuel prices in Fiji have recently come down by about 1 per cent. I do appreciate there are other factors which may influence the price but surely, there has to be a bigger price drop.


Soccer slide

WE are in next year's U20 World Cup because NZ qualified automatically. That's a fact. What transpires at the tournament next year is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the slide!


What are the incentives

ACCORDING to an article in your paper (FT 30/10), the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport said we should not expect any drop in FEA bills.

He added that since FEA spent $24million a week on diesel fuel, it is not possible to pass on the reduction to the consumers.

However, he did mention that there are incentives that members of the public can take in order to reduce electricity bills through the wise use of electric appliances.

Can the Government or FEA tell the consumers what incentives are available to them to help reduce their electricity bills?

Don't just push it on the consumers to do everything.


Money back

THE Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Lieutenant Colonel Pio Tikoduadua, has made comments about not reducing the electricity bill anytime soon because of the high cost of producing power using diesel generators.

First of all, let me remind the honourable minister that this was one of the reasons we, the people, voted for FijiFirst as per your manifesto.

Secondly, it would mean a false promise by your party.

The honourable minister had also mentioned that the electricity rate in Fiji was lower than New Zealand and Australia.

These countries have also permitted IPPs where consumers use solar system, mini hydro and windmills to sell power back to the grid.

With the higher rates, most consumers have gained by selling power and with this green energy, it is good for the environment.

Why can't the authority implement the same here?

I believe with consumers taking the opportunity to make a buck, there will not be just savings in energy, but FEA can do away with the environment unfriendly diesel generators.

The money back system will bring smiles to the poor.


Unfair comments

IT is rather sad to read comments by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport addressing issues relating to high electricity costs raised by the Baitinikama residents.

Instead of consoling and giving assurance of looking into it, he abruptly said FEA tariffs won't go down anytime soon and nothing could be done about it at the moment.

He said incentives which the public could take were the wise use of electrical appliances. Holding a ministerial portfolio, he could not offer any better suggestion than what we were taught in primary school.

FEA management need to recruit innovative personnel such as myself who have problem-solving skills and ability to counter such situations.

FEA, being a monopoly, has been a total failure when it comes to serving the general public. The board and management have not learnt from past experiences.

These issues are historical and they have to fork out extra for diesel usage when the hydro is low on water. Consumers bear the increase in tariffs to enjoy the luxury of electricity.

I hope there are two separate tariff systems in place - commercial and residential. Bulk of electricity is consumed by the commercial sector so it should bear more in terms of an increase in tariffs.

Also interesting is the figure of $24 million spent weekly to purchase diesel.

I wonder if FEA enjoys huge discounted rates buying $24 million worth of diesel every week from the local fuel companies.

If so, I am curious to know if any of the local fuel suppliers have the capacity to supply such a high volume of diesel every week. Also of interest is whether the Government is subsidising this purchase or putting it to the end users.

I would suggest FEA deal directly with overseas fuel suppliers and get a discount for its bulk buying of $24million a week.

It should target areas of operating costs within the organisation and divert funds to deal with urgent critical issues.

Introduce e-billing system and the use of digitally controlled LED system on streetlights.

Furthermore, please refrain from comparing costs of electricity bills and saying that Fiji's bills are cheaper than Australia and NZ.

Do consider the electricity consuming population of these two nations and the fact that electricity is not a monopoly but there are more players in the market unlike what FEA has been enjoying in Fiji for decades.


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