CAPTION:?Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Russian Ambassador His Excellency Vladimir Morozov at Government Buildings today.
1. FIJIAN VOLUNTEERS TO ASSIST PACIFIC NEIGHBOURS -?The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has noted a significant expansion in the number of Fijian volunteers being sent to other Pacific countries to assist with their development.
2. PS FINANCE REBUTS ADB CLAIMS -?Fiji?s growth in the recent past has been broad based with majority of the sectors rather a single factor leading to the positive expansion, says for the Ministry of Finance permanent secretary, Filimone Waqabaca.
3. RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR MEETS PM -?In a bid to further strengthen relations between the two countries this year, the Russian Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency Vladimir Morozov paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today.
4. RUSSIA READY TO HOST FIJI?-?The Russian Government is ready to play host to the Fiji team at the Rugby World Cup 7s in Moscow from June 28 to 30.
5. RADIO TARANA CONTAINER DRIVE FOR EVANS RECEIVED -?Five containers of gifts and donations from Radio Tarana of Auckland, New Zealand were received at the Ministry of Provincial Development?s top yard in Walu Bay, Suva today.
6. IDO DONATES TO PM?s RELIEF ASSISTANCE -?The Islamic Development Organization presented $5,000 to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Suva today.
7. MINISTRY UNDERTAKES FINAL CONSULTATION ON FUEL STANDARDS?-?The Permanent Secretary of Industry and Trade, Mr Shaheen Ali said the ministry is finalising the review of the current fuel standards, by calling for final comments from all stakeholders.
8. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION RESPONDS TO CRITICS -?The Ministry of Education says that those who criticize their decisions must understand that there is a system in place.
9. INTRODUCTION OF THE CERVICAL CANCER VACCINE TO CLASS 8 IN 2013 –The introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine to be administered to class eight students should be rolled out to all schools over six months early this year.
10. NGO TO JOIN REHAB PROCESS -?Non government organizations will now be part of the rehabilitation process being conducted by Government.
11. RECOGNITION OF TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS BY PSC -?A circular has been issued by the Public Service Commission requesting ministries and departments to identify tertiary institutions that provide relevant qualifications and capacity enhancement towards their operations.
12. COMMUNITY LEADERS URGED TO BE MORE VIGILANT -?The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has expressed concern over the case of a 16-year-old student being raped by seven men in Savusavu.
1. FIJIAN VOLUNTEERS TO ASSIST PACIFIC NEIGHBOURS
The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has noted a significant expansion in the number of Fijian volunteers being sent to other Pacific countries to assist with their development.
He said Fiji would like to place volunteers in every part of the Pacific within the next three to five years.
The Prime Minister made the comments today when he presented airline tickets to six retired teachers who are due to leave our shores later this month to work in Nauru under the Fiji Volunteer Service (FVS).
There are already 12 Fijians serving in the Republic or Marshall Islands under the FVS and additional interest has been registered from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The Prime Minister said that Fiji was committed to assisting its Pacific Islands neighbours with extra personnel to complement the efforts of their own people working in social and economic development.
?Fiji has sufficient trained personnel for its own needs and proven capacity in such fields as education, public administration, disaster management, peacekeeping, social programs and environmental protection,? PM Bainimarama said.
?We would like to share these skills and assist our Pacific Island neighbours as part our ?Engaging with the Pacific? program.
?Fiji is committed to assisting those who request our help. After all, we are an integral part of the Pacific with strong links to our neighbours in the areas of trade, investment, education, transportation and people-to-people relationships?
The Prime Minister encouraged the volunteer teachers leaving for Nauru to be good ambassadors for Fiji and do everything they could to help the Nauruan people with their education needs.
The Fiji Volunteer Service scheme was launched in February last year and is one of the four components of the National Employment Decree designed to boost employment opportunities for young people, professionals and retirees.
2. PS FINANCE REBUTS ADB CLAIMS
Fiji?s growth in the recent past has been broad based with majority of the sectors rather a single factor leading to the positive expansion, says for the Ministry of Finance permanent secretary, Filimone Waqabaca.
?The main drivers include agriculture, tourism, financial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, fisheries, construction and mining and quarrying. Other sectors contribute positively as well,? Mr Waqabaca said.
The permanent secretary was rejecting claims by a member of the Asian Development Bank that Fiji?s growth projections were not as high as envisaged by the Fijian Government but would be in fact 1 per cent less at 1.7 per cent rather than 2.7 per cent.
While questioning the methodology used by the bank to arrive at this figure, Mr Waqabaca said the ADB was pegging tourism as the driver of the economy, when it was broad based since 2011. After a period of marginal growth of 0.1 per cent in 2010, majority of the sectors have contributed to the growth.
The permanent secretary said ADB had been challenged to reveal on how they arrived at Fiji?s GDP growth figure but there had been no feedback from the bank on their methodology.
?Whether it was based on a forecasting model or just simply discounting the forecast growth number announced by the Macroeconomic Forecasting Committee in Fiji, which has an established forecasting methodology,? Mr Waqabaca said.
In 2011, he said that Fiji?s projection of 2 per cent growth was almost on par with the forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but ADB?s predictions were lower at 0.5 to 1 per cent.
The official GDP growth for 2011 was 1.9 per cent.
3. RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR MEETS PM
In a bid to further strengthen relations between the two countries this year, the Russian Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency Vladimir Morozov paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today.
Mr Morozov is the first ambassador to pay a courtesy call to the Fijian Prime Minister in 2013 ? this shows the already growing cooperation and friendly relations between the two countries.
PM Bainimarama and the ambassador discussed areas that could be further strengthened and areas in which Russia could provide assistance and technical cooperation.
He also praised the Fijian Government for its resilience and role played during the recent cyclone, which affected thousands in the Western Division.
The visit to Government Buildings was on the back of Mr Morozov?s meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the?Vale Ni Bose?Complex in Suva earlier this morning.
4. RUSSIA READY TO HOST FIJI
The Russian Government is ready to play host to the Fiji team at the Rugby World Cup 7s in Moscow from June 28 to 30.
The Russian Ambassador, His Excellency Vladimir Morozov gave the assurance to Fiji during his courtesy visit to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today.
?I can assure you Mr Prime Minister that Russia is ready to provide Fiji 7s team the best of our hospitality during the IRB 7s World Cup,? Mr Vladimir said.
Being a rugby enthusiast himself, Mr Vladimir said the country was looking forward to hosting the biggest tournament of the world in the abbreviated code.
?We know how Fiji plays and look forward to seeing your country take part in the tournament,? the ambassador said.
The IRB Rugby World Cup 7s will be hosted at the iconic Luzhniki Olympic Park in Moscow.
5. RADIO TARANA CONTAINER DRIVE FOR EVANS RECEIVED
Five containers of gifts and donations from Radio Tarana of Auckland, New Zealand were received at the Ministry of Provincial Development?s top yard in Walu Bay, Suva today.
A four-day radio appeal by Radio Tarana of Auckland, New Zealand resulted in a huge amount of donation, which were received by the National Disaster Management Committee for Tropical Cyclone Evan victims.
The five containers contained gifts from former Fiji citizens plus Fijians in New Zealand and Kiwis who donated items like non-perishable food, water, clothing, medical supplies and other essentials.
Radio Tarana is New Zealand?s most popular Hindi Radio Station, which conducted the four days radio appeal from the December 20 to 23 and received overwhelming response from listeners.
Ministry of Information personnel witnessed the opening of the first container at the Ministry of Provincial Development Top Yard in Walu Bay this morning.
DISMAC director Lt Col. Manasa Tagicakibau said Government was thankful to all former Fiji citizens residing in New Zealand, especially in Auckland for their generous donation.
?Surely these five containers of gifts from Radio Tarana will be a form of blessing to those who are struggling to collect the pieces left behind by Cyclone Evan, we are thankful to everyone in the Land of the Long White Clouds for their generous donation,? Lt. Col Tagicakibau said.
Donations from overseas countries for Cyclone Evan were made possible after Government declared a State of Natural Disaster. The declaration will be lifted on Tuesday midnight.
6. IDO DONATES TO PM?s RELIEF ASSISTANCE
The Islamic Development Organization presented $5,000 to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Suva today.
IDO representative Abdul Asim said the organization had already been doing some work in the cyclone affected areas with the help of DISMAC officials in the Western Division. However, they could not get
access to the islands because of the high cost of travelling and the scarcity of ships servicing the islands.
?So here we have $5,000 in cash to help our brothers and sisters and the children in Yasawa, Malolo and Vatulele islands,? Mr Asim said.
The organization recently provided 444 cartons of rations worth $50 each to be distributed in Ba, Tavua, Nadi and Lautoka.
The rations provided earlier in the Western Division was worth $20,000.
The Sydney-based non profit organisation has also requested to open up an office here in Fiji.
7. MINISTRY UNDERTAKES FINAL CONSULTATION ON FUEL STANDARDS
The Permanent Secretary of Industry and Trade, Mr Shaheen Ali said the ministry is finalising the review of the current fuel standards, by calling for final comments from all stakeholders.
?High level of sulphur in fuel has been linked to higher emissions from vehicles and by the reduction of sulphur content in fuel, we will be able to reduce one of the major causes of pollution and greenhouse gases in Fiji,? he said.
Mr Ali said the Fijian Government in 2007, had taken the first step towards improving fuel standards and the current review, after 5 years, is timely and important for Fiji.
?Improvement of fuel quality not only has environmental benefits, but also increases the longevity of vehicle engines.? Furthermore, there will a marked improvement in the standard of vehicles in Fiji. Cleaner fuel will enable the importation of vehicles built on newer technology and engineered on the principles of increased fuel efficiency, increased performance and reduced emissions,? he said.
?For most consumers and households purchasing a vehicle is a major decision and the Fijian Government is trying to make available in the market good quality, affordable, high performance and fuel efficient vehicles.
?The Fijian Government?s effort towards cleaner fuel will not only benefit the environment but also contribute towards savings for the consumers and reduction in fuel bill. Furthermore, this move is in line with the practice and standards of the rest of the World.?
8. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION RESPONDS TO CRITICS
The Ministry of Education says that those who criticize their decisions must understand that there is a system in place.
?All due consideration and careful compliance of the procedures and regulations in place are followed before any decision is taken. The same was applied to the case of 11 students who received zero marks in Biology during the Fiji Seventh Form Examination,? said the permanent secretary for Education Dr. Brij Lal
?Nevertheless, we abide by the decision made by the acting Minister Commander Viliame Naupoto for an independent investigation into the matter and at the moment we leave it at that,? added Dr. Lal.
?I believe the School Management Association is well aware of the procedures and regulations in place and should appreciate the important task our Examination Office in the Ministry of Education do undertake in making sure that the system of examination is free of malpractice and should be fair to all candidates sitting the national examination.?
9. INTRODUCTION OF THE CERVICAL CANCER VACCINE TO CLASS 8 IN 2013
The introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine to be administered to class eight students should be rolled out to all schools over six months early this year.
The introduction of the HPV vaccine to girls in Class Eight is the last of three new vaccines (the Pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines have been rolled out for infants in September 2012) approved for introduction by Cabinet in May 2011.
?It is important that all girls in Class Eight receive the required doses that will be administered by the Ministry of Health. The findings that cervical cancer is the highest cause of any cancer deaths in the country is really worrying and that?s why parents, stakeholders and teachers should put their hands together in seeing that this initiative is carried out successfully,? commented Dr. Lal
?The Ministry of Education will assist Ministry of Health officials in making sure that this exercise is carried out smoothly in all schools.
?Schools should expect visits from the School Health Team early in Term One for awareness purposes and also for the distribution of brochures on HPV vaccine and cervical cancer. In this respect I urge all teachers to help in the implementation and promotion of this whole exercise to benefit our children.?
10. NGO TO JOIN REHAB PROCESS
Non government organizations will now be part of the rehabilitation process being conducted by Government.
This was revealed today in Lautoka by the Disaster Management Committee director Lt. Col Manasa Tagicakibau after a series of meeting with NGOs was held with the Minister of Provincial Development Colonel Inia Seruiratu.
Lt Col Tagicakibau said the NGOs were brought in to help in the rehabilitation of those living on squatter settlements and other areas that received damage to their houses during cyclone Evan.
?The Commissioner Western has also identified new land of which these squatters will be moved but the meeting with NGO?s this morning clearly identified their role in humanitarian assistance provider for these people,? Lt. Col Tagicakibau said.
These NGO?s included Habitat for Humanity, International Red Cross, Fiji Red Cross, and others funded by New Zealand Aid, and AusAid.
?We will also be working closely with these NGOs on damage to houses in the squatter settlements at the same time Government will continue its direct assistance to houses in villages and schools which suffered the brunt of cyclone Evan,? Lt. Col Tagicakibau said.
?The coming on board of NGOs into the rehabilitation process will lighten the burden of the rehab process.
?They will not only provide humanitarian assistance but will also take on the cost of some work done since most NGOs are funded through AusAid and New Zealand Aid,? he said.
On the other hand there are military engineers, and carpenters who are helping rebuild villages and schools in cyclone affected areas.
The director also highlighted that their meeting in Lautoka was to confirm that as from Tuesday the Declaration of Natural Disaster will be lifted.
11. RECOGNITION OF TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS BY PSC
A circular has been issued by the Public Service Commission requesting ministries and departments to identify tertiary institutions that provide relevant qualifications and capacity enhancement towards their operations.
PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said the objective was to ensure that ministries and departments provided feedback on tertiary institutions that provided appropriate qualifications that were suitable to the respective workplace processes.
?Despite the recognition of the Fiji Higher Education Commission of training providers, some of the programs that are provided by these agencies may not be that relevant to civil service operations,? Mr Chand said.
?The priority will be to validate institutions that serve a purpose in the work of the civil service in terms of recognition of qualifications to make appointments and promotions.?
Qualifications from the University of the South Pacific and Fiji National University have been traditionally recognized by the commission and will be used as benchmarks to the qualifications provided by other new training institutions to gauge their relevance, strength and quality.
Mr Chand went on to say that once submissions have been received and analysed, the Public Service Commission will issue a circular on the approved list of recognized institutions that will guide and provide clarity to ministries and departments for purposes of recruitment.
12. COMMUNITY LEADERS URGED TO BE MORE VIGILANT
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has expressed concern over the case of a 16-year-old student being raped by seven men in Savusavu.
The Minister Dr Jiko Luveni said it was of grave concern that this horrendous act took place while the outcry against the gang rape and murder in India had not died down yet.
?This dehumanizing act has plagued our society it must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Women and girls throughout the world must be spared from such traumatizing incidents,? Dr Luveni said.
?The social welfare officers have obtained assistance from ?Empower Fiji?, counselling and support will be provided to the girl and her family.?
The Minister for Women is calling on community leaders and members of society to be more vigilant and play a proactive role in putting a stop to violence against women and children.
?This incident occurred in a village setting and it is time for village elders and community leaders to be more vigilant on such issues and declare zero tolerance on violence in their own communities,? Dr Luveni said.
?While the Government has provided the legal framework, there is a need for strengthened family and community support to eliminate all forms of abuse and violence against women and children.?