FIJI NEWS SUMMARY- 26/02/13

1 NEW BOOST FOR SEAQAQA LANDOWNERS

A piece of land that was deposited with the land bank has been taken up by the Fiji Sugar Corporation with the expectation of harvesting over $1million worth of sugarcane.

The mataqali Devo of Seaqaqa have had their land lying idle for the past 20 years as it was under mortgage by the Fiji Development Bank and would have continued to be unproductive if landowners had not entrusted the land to the land bank at the Ministry of Lands.

The mataqali received a lump-sum payment of $220,000 from the FSC recently for a lease of 99 years. Mere Godai, the spokeswoman of mataqali Devo, said while the landowners were happy to receive the money, it was the knowledge that they will be assisting the economy that makes it more special for them.

At today?s event the Ministry of Lands permanent secretary, Mr Tevita Boseiwaqa, said it was the intent of Government, through Pillar 6 of the People?s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress on ?Making more land available for productive and social purposes?, to avail idle land for better utilisation.

?All Government wants is the productive use of the land and ultimately the proper use of this resource will have a trickle-down effect where things like children?s fees being paid on time will also be addressed,? he said.

?The mataqali Devo has given their land with confidence to the land bank and Government has re-affirmed through the recent land decree that the ownership of i-Taukei land will not be taken away.?

The landowners, most of whom are now residing away from Seaqaqa, have been commended for having the foresight to put their land for better use as it will not only assist them but the economy as a whole through higher production of sugar.

With 80 per cent lease renewals through the iTaukei Land Trust Board already sending good signals to the sugar industry, the deposit of productive land for growing more sugar will be a further boost to the industry.

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2 AUSTRIA?S ENVOY PRESENTS CREDENTIALS

The new nonresident ambassador for the Republic of Austria, Dr Helmut Boeck presented his credentials to His Excellency, the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at Government House this morning.

Dr Boeck holds a doctorate in law from the University of Innsbruck, Austria and a Master of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

The Austrian ambassador also previously was the permanent representative of Austria to the United Nations from 2008 to May 2012 and was the head of the Department for International Organisations.

The nonresident ambassador will be based in Canberra, Australia.

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3 STUDENTS TO BENEFIT FROM ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD PROGRAM

Primary school students will now have access to better technology and enhance their computer knowledge and skills through the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme.

Navesi Primary School students in Lami were all smiles today as the school received a donation of 50 XO laptops from the Bank of the South Pacific (BSP).

The head teacher of Navesi Primary School, Mr Taubale Mocevakaca said the timely assistance, made possible through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Education, University of the South Pacific (USP) and BSP, would see their students acquire computer skills at an early age of six years.

Mr Mocevakaca said that in addition to today?s donation, the school would receive about 150 more laptops later so that each child at the school gets an opportunity to use a laptop.

?This assistance is just a start for the many other good things to come for our children as an official launching of the program would be held on the 22nd of next month,? Mr Mocevakaca said.

?We are grateful to the stakeholders for working in partnership with the Education Ministry and the government in ensuring better, quality and accessible education for the children of Fiji.?

The head teacher added that the school?s selection to pilot the OLPC program is indeed a beneficial one not only for the students but for the community at large.

?We have a roll of 216 students at Navesi Primary School and our students come from as far as Qauia, Delainavesi and nearby areas. Many of our students would use these laptops to complete their class based assessment projects.

?We have also made arrangements for internet connection at our new computer lab to enable students carry out their researches here at the labs. I am sure this assistance would go a long way in preparing our children for the technologically changing world out there,? Mr Mocevakaca emphasised.

BSP?s marketing manager Mr Nirdesh Singh is hopeful that their $2million contribution towards the OLPC program would ultimately boost the students? academic performance.

USP had also made a significant contribution by offering free education to teachers of the beneficiary schools on the proper use of the new laptops.

The E-learning lecturer for the School of Education at USP, Mr Ian Thompson highlighting on the need of taking good care of the equipment, said it now depended on the teachers and students to capitalise of the vital assistance provided.

?Teaching the teachers was a long training process and a difficult one too because of the way they had been teaching. Things are going to be different now as modern and advanced technology is involved. It would be like what Australia and New Zealand have,? Mr Thompson added.

Meanwhile, Nabua Primary School and Draiba Primary School also received a similar donation from BSP today.

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4 FIJI CHAIRS REGIONAL EXCELLENCE DRIVE

Fiji is now the Chair of the Pacific Public Service Excellence Award Working Group and will work with other regional countries to implement a framework for excellence in public service delivery.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr Josefa Serulagilagi, the Public Service Commission?s chairman said that Fiji was proud to be chosen as the Chair of the Working Group at the 10th Public Service Commissioner?s Conference held in Majuro, Marshall Islands in August last year.?? He said that the basis of our selection was largely in view of our proven track records and experience in running such a programme for our own public service.

The other members of the Working Group are Public Service Commissioners from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands and Vanuatu.

Mr Serulagilagi said PSC will work closely with the Secretariat of the Conference and other members of the Working Group in putting together a framework for recognizing excellence in public service delivery in the Region.

?The Public Service Commissions are keen to examine and possibly adopt such initiatives which will enhance service delivery standards in their respective countries as well as the Region as a whole,? he said.

Mr Serulagilagi said that the Working Group will be networking soon to explore the various possibilities and then take a proposal for consideration of the 11th Pacific Public Service Commissioners Conference to be held in Samoa in September this year.

In addition to the Awards Working Group, there are two other Working Groups respectively focusing on Terms of Reference and the State of the Service.

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5 KOREA OFFERS SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS

Civil servants in Fiji are now being offered two Masters Scholarships by the Government of the Republic of Korea.

The successful applicants will be studying Development Cooperation Policy at the Seoul National University and the duration of study will be for a year beginning August 30, 2013.

Public Service Commission permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand said that this is a wonderful opportunity for our public servants given our emphasis on building improved capacities for the development of a professional public service.

?We will definitely utilize this opportunity and are deeply appreciative of the offer of assistance by the Government of the Republic of Korea in this instance,? he said.

The scholarship will cover tuition fees, living allowance, meals, textbook and materials and overseas travel insurance, study visit and field trips and return airfare.? Applicants must be a Fiji citizen, under 35 years of age and must be a civil servant specifically recommended by the respective Permanent Secretary.

More application details can be obtained from the PSC website www.psc.gov.fj. Those applying must submit their applications to the PSC Overseas Training Unit no later than March 4, 2013.

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6 G77 MEETS ON RIO OUTCOMES

?Under Fiji’s chairmanship, the G77 and China today held a full-day?s brainstorming meeting at the Ambassadorial level on the follow up to the Rio+20 outcomes document, “The Future We Want”.

The brainstorming session tackled issues relating to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and follow-up to the MDGs, all of which are interlinked processes that help shape the post-2015 development agenda.

In addition to the Group of 77 Ambassadors and delegates, invited guests also participated in the brainstorming sessions. These invited guests included Under Secretary-General Mr Wu Hongbo of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Executive Director of The South Centre Mr Martin Khor, and Chief Economist of The South Centre, Dr Yilmaz Aky?z.

The Group of 77 members had the opportunity to provide their suggestions on the substance of SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda in two interactive sessions chaired by Fiji?s Ambassador Peter Thomson. Key points raised by members included the need to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda is elaborated by intergovernmental negotiations with a mandate from the UN General Assembly, rather than exclusive smaller groups established outside of intergovernmental mechanisms. As regards the formulation of the SDGs, members expressed concerns relating to need for the UN?s Open Working Group to commence its work on substance at the earliest.

G77 members mentioned the need for the eventual SDGs to be balanced appropriately across the three pillars of sustainable development, while highlighting the centrality of the need to eradicate poverty wherever it remains. Members also highlighted the need for SDGs to be outcome-oriented with clear indicators, and for there to be a manageable number of priority goals. The need for adequate resourcing for the achievement of the SDGs and for the post-2015 development agenda was a central part of the interventions of many members.

Ambassador Thomson said that today?s brainstorming session in New York was conceived as, the beginning of a process whereby the G77 will be ahead of the game in the formulation of the SDGs and in consideration of the larger post-2015 development agenda.?

Press Release