FIJI NEWS SUMMARY-19/02/13

1 VOLIVOLI COMMUNITY JOINS FIGHT AGAINST VIOLENCE AND INJUSTICE

The village of Volivoli in Sigatoka has become the latest village in Fiji to implement the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Program; which will lead to creating a violent free community for their village.

Since it was introduced in 2008, the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare has continuously pushed for the implementation of the program as part of Government?s commitment towards women and child protection around the country. The program was piloted in Koroipita, Lautoka and since then has continued to expand with a total of 34 communities currently working with government in eliminating all forms of violence against women and children.

This week Volivoli villagers pledged their commitment for this program and were joined by the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni. The village was presented with a certificate acknowledging this commitment to a violence free program. ?The villagers thanked Dr Luveni for being the first cabinet minister to set foot in their village and network with the people.

Volivoli village Turaga Ni Koro or village headman Mr Rupeni Takavo, the turaga-ni-koro said that while the village seldom experiences any form of violence in recent years, the implementation of this program will strengthen peace and unity among his people to keep Volivoli a violence-free village.

?There are about 500 people in this village and we have committed ourselves to work with the government on the violence free program. We have set up a gatekeeping committee to ensure that no violence will be tolerated in Volivoli. The villagers have been informed about the Domestic Violence Decree and Crimes Decree, so are very well aware of the laws in place and the consequences they will face if they break the law,? he said.

?We will develop a guideline and a disciplinary committee will be formed to ensure that children are home by 6pm and focus on their studies. People will be monitored as we don?t want people to waste their time drinking yaqona we want parents to focus on their families wellbeing. In our village meetings we have made the rule clear and have confirmed that we won?t tolerate any forms of violence against women and children,? he said.

Volivoli women?s group president Mrs Kinisimere Lalanawai, thanked government for addressing womens? issues and said that all the villages in Fiji should join this program.

?This is a much awaited program and our women are happy that we have got a proactive minister who confidently reaches out to the communities and advocates on womens? right. Women contributions often go unnoticed. Through this program, we are hoping that the women here will become more visible in decision making processes and promote a culture where men respect the women and their families. This is possible and the zero tolerance program has showed us the way to build a better Fiji. I believe that all the villages should join this program,? she said.

In her opening address, Minister Luveni congratulated the Volivoli villagers and reiterated on the need for communities to take ownership of this program.

?Happy families set the platform for peaceful communities that care for the wellbeing of women and children. I hope to come back next year for the declaration and after successful implementation of this program, there will be a billboard in front of your village that will signify that this is a violence free community-there is complete happiness and peace in this community,? Minister said.

Sigatoka Police Station officer Mr Henry Steele pointed out that zero tolerance program will significantly complement the role of community policing in the areas.

?Volivoli village is one of the communities in Sigatoka that doesn?t have any reported cases of violence. We are determined to develop Volivoli as a model village for violence free program and more communities in the Nadroga/Navosa province have queued up for this initiative,? Mr Steele added.

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2 FIJI WILL CONTINUE TO STRIVE FOR IMPROVED RATINGS

FIJI will continue to strive towards better international ratings through its improved fiscal and macro-economic outcomes while simultaneously providing better economic conditions to all Fijians.

Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Mr Filimoni Waqabaca said that donor partners, development partners, the international community and multilateral institutions would continue to take note of the progress Fiji was making on the economic front.

Responding to the improved ratings by Moody?s Firm from negative to stable, the permanent secretary said Fiji?s progress was finally being recognised given all the challenges that it went through both domestically and considering the levels of assistance received from abroad.

?When they make these assessments, the Ministry will open its books to them. They go through our fiscal numbers, they go through our monetary policy with their experts who really analyse how our numbers are and based on those, they make their judgement on whether we have improved. In this case, given that we have migration from negative to stable, it is a sign of improvement,? he explained.

Added to this, there are real impacts on the ground that can be attested to through the number of programmes provided by Government in the improvement of livelihoods especially for people in the rural areas.

However, Mr Waqabaca said that the improvements will not end here as Fiji will continue to strive for better ratings to ensure easier access to funds and at a better interest rate.

?We will continue to work towards those targets, Government has put out macro-economic targets going into medium term and we are headed towards those in terms of reserves level which is high and inflation which is low,? he said.

?Those macro-economic figures have assured the raters in Moody?s that given the improved position they have now given us an improved rating,? he said.

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3 MINISTER CALLS FOR STRICTER CONTROLS AT WESTERN CENTRES

Following a recent tour to the western division, the Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma is now implementing stricter controls and thorough assessments of health centres in the western division.

The Minister?s recent tour beginning from Sigatoka right through to Korovou was part of the Ministry?s review processes to determine where it lacked efficiency and areas that could be improved.

?Efficiency is vital to this profession and there should be no excuses why quality services cannot be provided to the general public?, Minister Sharma said.

?Complacency is not an option at all in this profession and I strongly urge you to prioritise the lives and welfare of those that walk through these doors?.

While highlighting the need for medical personnel to respond effectively to the needs of the public, the Health Minister said that medical facilities and resources should be managed well by personnel.

?Ensure that medical materials are always available and use a process where supply is easily addressed to avoid any possible shortages?.

The minister also stressed that it was vital that Hospital Administrators inspect hospitals at least once a week and provide feedback to relevant authorities.

?This exercise is designed to bring efficiency in how you operate and how the health centres are run to ensure that the public are not deprived of the most basic health services?, Minister Sharma said.

The Minister also met with members of the public and assured them that government through the health ministry would ensure that improved and efficient services would continue to be provided not only in the western division but also in other parts of the country.

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4 MINISTER LEADS DELEGATION TO GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT MEET

The Minister for Local Government, Housing, Urban Development & Environment, Samuela Saumatua is heading Fiji?s delegation to the 27th United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum in Nairobi Kenya.

The meeting focuses on the follow up on the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) entitled ?The Future We Want? and the endorsement of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly which includes provisions for strengthening and upgrading UNEP and measures for an enhanced institutional framework for sustainable development. The theme for this meeting is ?Rio+20: From Outcome to Implementation?.

Fiji?s presence at this meet is intended to strengthen government?s own capacity and resources when responding to climate change issues. As well, the overall thrust of this policy direction is to strengthen the UNEP?s co-ordination mandate within the UN system and also with member countries.

The meeting brings together Government Environment Ministers, officials, UN sister organisations, major groups, development partners and International NGOs to share experiences and collectively agree on the Way Forward.

Minister Saumatua is accompanied by the Strategic Planning, National Development & Statistics permanent secretary Mr Pita Wise, the Director Environment, Mr Jope Davetanivalu and Acting Chief Economic Planning Officer, Strategic Planning Office, Mr Paula Cirikiyasawa.

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5 COLLECTIVE APPROACH NEEDED TO END COASTAL INUNDATION

The Minister for Works, Transport and Public Utilities has called for a collaborated approach to address coastal inundation.

The Minister made the comments at the opening of the Coast Inundation Forecasting demonstration project ? Fiji (CIFDP-F) stakeholders? workshop in Nadi this week.

This workshop is expected to identify information on operational forecast and warning requirements that will facilitate an integrated operational coastal inundation management system in the country.

?I wish to reaffirm Government?s total support for the success of the CIFDP national sub-project for Fiji, and to be built on all-inclusive, dynamically integrated and cross ? sectoral experiences and information,? he said.

In 2012, Government, in its efforts to address gaps in Fiji?s early warning system for flooding, decided to transfer the flood forecasting and warning mandate to the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS).

Through this amalgamation, the forecasting and warning responsibilities for both fresh water flooding, and sea-level related coastal inundation, become the responsibility of one agency, the Department of Meteorology.

?This effectively sets up and provides an ideal situation for Government to successfully launch and efficiently demonstrate an integrated Coastal Inundation Forecasting System in Fiji,? Minister Natuva said.

?After the completion of the demonstration phase, I strongly urge all the national institutions, including the FMS, to continue to work collaboratively with the WMO and its Partners, and stakeholders, to identify the best solutions to realize the underlying needs, and successfully demonstrate and sustain an operational Coastal Inundation Forecasting System, operated and managed by Fiji for Fiji and its entire population.?

He said that continuous engagement and support from the World Maritime Organisation and its national and international stakeholders was vital to ensure the sustainability of this higher intent.

While Fiji has been active not only in improving its institutional capabilities to better serve its communities, ?Government will continue its humanitarian obligation towards assisting neighboring Pacific island countries in the field of coastal inundation forecasting and warning?.

Minister Natuva said there was a real need for technical and professional expertise to undertake the hydrological forecasting and warning services, including water level and flow monitoring, data analysis and modeling capability.

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6 GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ASSESS SCHOOLS IN BEMANA

Bemana District School teachers and students last week were surprised to receive a government delegation visiting schools in their district.

The government delegation was headed by the Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister?s Office, Pio Tikoduadua together with the Permanent Secretary for Education, Dr Brij Lal and the Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development, Mr Filipe Alifereti.

The team visited the school and identified different areas in the school that needs improvement. The school will have a classroom built to accommodate the kindergarten students, have their dining room refurbished and improvements to the boys dormitory ablution block.

The girls? dormitory will also receive bunks to allow girls to sleep on bed as they have been sleeping with their mattresses on the floor.

?The focus of the government is to provide the assistance needed to groom our children for their future. They are our tomorrow and it is our duty to render all the services we can to encourage them to work hard and excel in the future?, said the Ministry of Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal.

?I commend the Prime Minister?s office and the Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development for their commitment in taking education to a new dimension for these remote schools,? added Dr Lal.

The government is committed to improving the education of our children and it is the responsibility of management, teachers and parents to rally the support needed in attaining the desired output.

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7 PS EDUCATION ENCOURAGES BEMANA STUDENTS

The Ministry of Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal has called on students of Bemana Catholic Secondary School to work hard and use all educational opportunities available.

The permanent secretary was part of a government delegation that visited the school last week to verify developments needed in the school.

?The government officials are visiting your school to see that you receive quality education. We are here to assist you in every way possible to help you?, Dr Lal said.

?The government is doing all it can to provide opportunities for all students. Opportunities that will allow students to maximise their potential and pursue higher education and employment opportunities,? added Dr. Lal.

?The theme of the Ministry of Education for 2013 is ?step up? and we are working on improving all that we can to deliver the required services needed?.

The Permanent Secretary also commended the management of the school and commended the teachers and students of the school for maintaining a good image of the school.

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8 FIJI VOLUNTEER SCHEME TO EXPAND TO REGIONAL COUNTRIES

Fiji will soon be sending volunteers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor Leste.

Public Service Commission (PSC) permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand highlighted that this opportunity is credited to the successful consultations by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and officials of the Fiji Volunteer Scheme (FVS) administered by the PSC with relevant counterparts in PNG and Timor Leste.

Mr Chand said that the respective governments were briefed on the terms, conditions and entitlements for volunteers, the latest dispatch of volunteers to the region and the number of Pacific island countries who have expressed interest in engaging FVS Volunteers.

He said the consultative meetings was promising given that relevant line agencies have shown keen interest in the scheme and appreciated the information provided.

?This is an indication of the importance and sustainability of the Fiji Volunteer Scheme.?

Requests for volunteers from Timor Leste included English teachers, Nurses, Ambulance Drivers, English translators and Legal Officers. Papua New Guinea indicated considering the Scheme in the East Sepik Province.

Mr Chand said the concept of volunteering under the FVS is about nation building and participating in programs in society that will bring about civic pride and patriotism on the part of individuals who are involved.

?Individuals who are willing to offer their skills and expertise are encouraged to register as an Unemployed Graduate Trainee Volunteer, a Senior Volunteer (Local) or a Senior Volunteer (Regional),? Mr Chand added.

He said under the scheme, local volunteers are eligible for a weekly allowance of $100 of which 50% is paid by FVS and 50% by the host Ministry or Agency.

A person who wishes to be engaged as a Volunteer needs to first register with the National Employment Centre and can then be identified to be part of the Fiji Volunteer Scheme program.

The Public Service has released an expression of interest for FVS volunteer registration and more information on FVS can be accessed at www.psc.gov.fj.

MINFO