MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 4:00PM 23/05/13

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1. FIJI TO REVIEW DISASTER POLICY AND PLAN -?Fiji?s outdated disaster management policy and plan is currently under review with a view to incorporate disaster risk reduction and climate change into a new national plan.

 

2. MAJOR PLANS FOR EXPANSION OF HEALTH SERVICES -?Ministry of Health has evaluated its progress on capital projects for the first quarter of 2013 and plans to continue doing so for the second quarter.

 

3. UTILIZE TRAINING ON OFFER IN INDIA -?The Public Service Commission (PSC) is encouraging ministries, departments and agencies to make full use of opportunities for training offered under the Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) programme of the Government of India.

 

4. BORRON HOUSE ATTRACTS SPECIAL INTEREST -?Borron House continues to be an attractive venue for those who wish to hire the premises for special occasions.

5. CONCILIATORS TO BE APPOINTED FOR EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION -?More than 20 civil servants are participating in a Mediation Skills Training this week who will soon be appointed as conciliators by the government.

6. FNSC TO SEND TEAM TO KADAVU FOR OUTREACH?-?The Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC) will be sending a team to Kadavu in July as part of their outreach programme to take sports development to a new level.

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7. EDUCATION CLEAN-UP SUVA FORESHORE -?The Ministry of Education organized a social event to clean up the Suva foreshore over the weekend.

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1.?FIJI TO REVIEW DISASTER POLICY AND PLAN

Fiji?s outdated disaster management policy and plan is currently under review with a view to incorporate disaster risk reduction and climate change into a new national plan.

Minister for National Disaster Management Mr Inia Seruiratu who is currently in Geneva for a disaster policy and plan review meeting said this review stresses the need for an effective crisis and emergency management system.

?Our policies need to be reviewed because the current ones were developed many years ago and may not be very relevant anymore. These documents are quiet old. ?We have the Act of 1998 and the disaster management plan of 1995.

Minister Seruiratu said one of the biggest challenges for government is to bring disaster risk reduction and climate change together.

?There are few key areas that we are focusing on ? we need to look at our infrastructure. Most of our infrastructures were built without proper risk analysis. We must build an element of risk assessment into all our infrastructures. This work will require special fund to allow us to reduce, mitigate and transfer risks,? minister Seruiratu said.

He added another area the Fiji Government is working on is improving its information systems.

?We need to strengthen the links between all the agencies and stakeholders because information is power. We need the data and statistics that need to be collated and shared so that we can use it as a planning tool,? Minister Seruiratu said.

Minister Seruiratu said human capital development is another area that government is trying to promote.

?We can have the best infrastructure, the best information system but at the same time we need the right people to do the job. People need to be trained. The human capital development is something that we need to focus on,? Minister Seruiratu said.

?If we invest in our people, we will have a workforce that is effective and efficient and also sustainable in the long term. Minster Seruiratu revealed here in Geneva that work is underway to upgrade its national emergency operations centre.?

Minister Seruiratu highlighted another key component is building the resilience of communities.

?We need to strengthen our other networks with the local government. We want resilient cities, resilient towns and resilient communities. We need to focus our efforts on the local government and the private sector. They play a key role in terms of investment and financing during and post disaster,? Minister Seruiratu said.

Minister Seruiratu said the most challenging and important aspect of disaster reduction efforts is finance.

?For the first time ever for Fiji, we have invested through the 2013 budget on disaster risk reduction. We hope we will continue to get more funding because it is not an expense but an investment,? Minister Seruiratu added.

?If we need to minimize the cost in the future, then we need to invest today.?

Minister Seruiratu acknowledged the need for public-private sector partnership as governments cannot do it on their own.

?In Fiji, we are grateful that the private sector is fully involved. It is the private sector that will feel the brunt of disasters when disaster strikes in terms of economic loss and damage,? Minister Seruiratu said.

?Everyone has to be involved. This has been the message that I continue to emphasise that disaster risk reduction is everyone?s responsibility rather than central government and the communities.?

Minister Seruiratu government needs to put in place clear policies, proper systems and accountability.

Sharing the experiences of the floods in Nadi in 2011 and the devastation of tropical Evan in 2013, Minister Seruiratu said the level of preparedness and resilience shown by the people and the government worked out really well.

?We in Fiji are learning through our experiences and we can confidently say that we are much better positioned now in terms of our level of preparedness to face the brunt and consequences of future disasters,? Minister Seruiratu added.

?Cluster arrangement is perhaps in its infancy stage but through the experiences that we have gone through in the previous disasters, it has strengthened our coherence and networking.

Minister Seruiratu said the response to Tropical cyclone Evan, a category four cyclone was a collective effort.

?Government tried to do its best within the resources it has to disseminate information, to warn the population. But more so, people themselves need to take responsibility,? said Minister Seruiratu.

?I must say, our people took responsibility during tropical cyclone Evan. We can provide them with the best information but the decision lies with the individual. What we experienced is a good reflection of the level of resilience through the awareness programmes and the involvement of the stakeholders. We still need to work on it and keep improving.?

Minister Seruiratu said the new plan also incorporates ?the concerns and aspirations of vulnerable peoples in the South Pacific.

?In this reviewed Act and Plan, we have made sure that their needs are included in it. In fact we have conducted meetings with them and have included their needs in this plan. Back in Fiji, we are working with our systems as well, particularly with evacuation centres,? said Minister Seruiratu.

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2.?MAJOR PLANS FOR EXPANSION OF HEALTH SERVICES

Ministry of Health has evaluated its progress on capital projects for the first quarter of 2013 and plans to continue doing so for the second quarter.

Minister for Health, Doctor Neil Sharma said for the second quarter the ministry is progressing on works that have commenced at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH).

?We are developing four new operating theatres at CWM Hospital and the whole place has been renovated. The departments have been all painted and we have recently installed urology station specifically for people that have kidney stones,? Dr Sharma said.

Government has allocated $4million that will used ?for major upgrades at health centres across the country, while $900,000 will be allocated for minor repairs.

?For Lautoka Hospital, new set of lifts are being put in place and all sub-divisional hospitals have had some degree of renovation so in 2014, we will go into a mode of regular maintenance,? Dr Sharma said.

Dr Sharma said next year, the Lautoka Hospital will have three additional operating theatres setting up a cardiac cath laboratory.

?We want Lautoka to develop because it?s servicing a large population in the West,? Dr Sharma said.

Other developments feature in Labasa where renovations are currently ongoing in the accident and emergency units.

?All our rural health centres have had their services improved with the provision of extended hours to be offered to patients,? the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has increased its human resource capacity with a total of 2500 nurses recruited into the workforce.

?The increase in the nurses? intake will gradually show results later in time. However, for the meantime, this is a milestone development that is part of our succession planning,? Dr Sharma added.

With the current improvements to health facilities, Dr Sharma is adamant that people will take ownership of their health.

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3.?UTILIZE TRAINING ON OFFER IN INDIA

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is encouraging ministries, departments and agencies to make full use of opportunities for training offered under the Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) programme of the Government of India.

PSC permanent secretary, Mr Parmesh Chand said there is a need to fully utilize these training opportunities offered by the Government of India which in turn will contribute to efforts in building human resource capabilities in the public service.

The ITEC and the Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Programme (SCAAP) for 2013-2014 sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi is offering 55 places for civil servants.

?There are short term and long term courses on offer from the Government of India in the areas of accounts, audit, finance, Information Technology (IT), English, Management, Small and Medium Enterprises, Rural Development and Environment and Renewable Energy,? Mr Chand said.

He said that officers who attend this training will have to adhere to the new Bonding Policy which means that upon their return from training they are to work in their respective ministries and departments and also share knowledge they have learnt.

In 2012, there were 55 public servants who benefitted from the various training programmes in India under ITEC in areas such as, Audit, Banking, IT, Communication, HR, SMEs, Technical Courses, Accounts and Rural Developments.

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4.?BORRON HOUSE ATTRACTS SPECIAL INTEREST

Borron House continues to be an attractive venue for those who wish to hire the premises for special occasions.

Public Service Commission permanent secretary, Mr Parmesh Chand said an increasing number of enquiries have been received regarding the availability of Borron House for activities such as film shooting, short term stay for dignitaries and persons who are not guests of the State as well as hosting of private and public functions.

Mr Chand said that the Commission in consultation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Civil Aviation had drawn up a criteria for hiring out of Borron House.

He said the property will always remain a VIP State House and as such Government use of it will have priority over private functions.

?However, at times when it is not required for State functions by Government, the property is being made available for private accommodation and functions.?

According to the criteria, those who wish to stay on a short visit will be first approved by Government and will have to pay a premium price commensurate with special status and significance of Borron House.

Mr Chand said the daily rate is fixed at $5,000.00 per night inclusive of VAT for stays at Borron House. For functions involving the use of lawns only, the rate is $3,000.00.

He said the costs of security and catering will be covered separately by the guests and reservations for stay or use of Borron House needs to be made two weeks in advance.

The Office Accommodation Division of PSC coordinates the bookings and oversees the hiring of Borron House.

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5.?CONCILIATORS TO BE APPOINTED FOR EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION

More than 20 civil servants are participating in a Mediation Skills Training this week who will soon be appointed as conciliators by the government.

These conciliators will resolve employment disputes and grievances and facilitate settlement between the employer and employee.

The two day training, which started yesterday, is organised by the Public Service Commission.

Chief Mediator, Vimlesh Maharaj said they are providing resource personnel to train conciliators so that they are aware of the processes involved in resolving disputes and grievances through mediation.

Mr Maharaj said the Mediation Services Unit of the Ministry of Labour has a success rate of about 80 per cent in the resolution of disputes and grievances.

?We have a very structured and dedicated process. The disputes are referred to the mediation either by the union or individual worker or the employer. Mediation is attempted as the first point of settlement,? Mr Maharaj said.

However, if a dispute is not resolved through mediation, then it has a natural progression to the Employment Relations Tribunal and on point of law appeal to the Employment Relations Court.

Mr Maharaj said the Mediation Services Unit has mediated over 1200 cases in 2012.

?Employers are engaging in mediation because mediation services provided by the Labour Ministry is free of cost to the parties. It is a free service offered by this government to the people and the employers.

?We started off with 75 per cent success rate and we have enhanced it. Today we are hitting 79-80 per cent dispute resolution,? Mr Maharaj highlighted.

Mediation Services Unit works on cases where an employee is aggrieved for being dismissed, disadvantaged by the unjustifiable action of the employer, discrimination in employment matters, sexual harassment or duress.

All disputes referred to the unit must be resolved at the maximum of thirty days from the day mediation starts.

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6.?FNSC TO SEND TEAM TO KADAVU FOR OUTREACH

The Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC) will be sending a team to Kadavu in July as part of their outreach programme to take sports development to a new level.

FNSC executive chairman, ?Mr Peter Mazey said the programme is part of their plans to take sports outreach to both the rural and urban areas.

?The Sports Commission has been tasked to do a lot more work with the communities this year,? ?Mr Mazey said.

?We have had a request from Kadavu to assist the community there in athletic development.?

Mr Mazey also confirmed that the FNSC has had meetings with Athletics Fiji on this issue.

?Athletics Fiji will be providing the training officers and coaches and the Commission will be funding this trip,? ?Mr Mazey said.

The FNSC was set up by government to not only be a sporting organisation but to promte the growth of sports in communities for both the young and old.

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7.?EDUCATION CLEAN-UP SUVA FORESHORE

The Ministry of Education organized a social event to clean up the Suva foreshore over the weekend.

The Education Social Enrichment Committee (ESEC) coordinator, Mrs Miriama Namosimalua said the activity was an effort to inspire children and the community to clean up and conserve the beautiful environment for all.

Gloves, sacks and refreshments were provided to the participating ministry staff members and their families before the different groups were sent to their allocated areas.

The ESEC?s message is to create public awareness of littering and which is everyone?s responsibility to keep public areas clean and visually attractive.

“I wish to encourage everyone to take up initiatives like this to bring about civic pride and become responsible citizens,? concluded Mrs. Namosimalua

The committee have started implementing its plan for the environment cleanup for the year.

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