1.?FIJI HITS OUT AT DEVELOPED COUNTRIES AS G77 CHAIR -?Fiji, as chair of the Group of 77 and China negotiating bloc, has hit out at developed countries for backtracking on their climate change commitments and reminded them to show leadership, as stipulated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
2.?ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING -?Banks, accountants, lawyers, foreign exchange dealers and large and small private sector companies have been urged to be more vigilant in reporting suspicious transactions and detecting money laundering activities.
3.?FIJI VOLUNTEER SCHEME RECEIVES A MILLION FOR 2014 -?The Fiji Volunteer Scheme (FVS) has been allocated $1million in the 2014 National Budget.
4.?SIGATOKA AWAITS OPENING OF UPGRADED VALLEY ROAD -?People living along the banks of the Sigatoka river are eagerly awaiting the opening of the newly sealed Sigatoka Valley Road.
1.?FIJI HITS OUT AT DEVELOPED COUNTRIES AS G77 CHAIR
Fiji, as chair of the Group of 77 and China negotiating bloc, has hit out at developed countries for backtracking on their climate change commitments and reminded them to show leadership, as stipulated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The statement was delivered at the start of the UNFCCC High Level segment in Warsaw, Poland by the Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni, on behalf of the Group.
Dr Luveni is currently in Warsaw leading a strong 16-member Fiji delegation.
?After one week of intense negotiations, our technical people have advised that things are not looking promising in Warsaw. This is a source of major concern within our Group. We urge Developed Country Parties, to show leadership. This process is at a critical juncture where leadership is desperately desired. The Convention clearly stipulates where leadership lies,? said Dr Luveni.
?It is highly disappointing and indeed regrettably inadequate, that at a juncture such as this, when we are so full of enthusiasm and determination to discuss, analyze, assess and determine for ourselves, an instrument that will guide our behavior and regulate our affairs for the benefit of this and the future generations, in as far as the climate regime is concerned, that we are now witnessing retractions by some parties from their obligation and from their leadership role, in these processes,? she added.
Dr Luveni did not mince her words when she articulated retractions by developed country partners.
?Last week, instead of increasing its emission reduction target or at the very least remain at current level, a prominent Annex 1 Party announced its intention to substantially deviate from its promised target to a level much less compatible with previously stated pledge,? said Dr Luveni.
?In a more recent forum, Australia and Canada clearly demonstrated their unwillingness to show increased ambition by reserving their position on Green Climate Fund, thus, conclusively confirming their unwillingness to move forward in these endeavor.
?The Group of 77 and China has earlier articulated its priorities for COP19 at the opening of this session. Despite one week of negotiations, there continues to remain a serious lack of clarity on the predictable scale up of the provision of finance up to 100 billion USD per year by 2020. Three years after its launching in Durban, the Green Climate Fund, as I speak, remains an empty shell. It is absolutely necessary that we see a rapid and substantial initial capitalization and an ambitious resource mobilization for the GCF for 2014,? Dr Luveni said.
?Clarity on finance, including for the transfer of technology, and capacity-building, which is the basic foundation of any ambitious action on climate change is essential if Warsaw is to be a success.?
Dr Luveni, earlier in the day, also welcomed the UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon into a coordination plenary meeting of G77 and China.
2.?ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING
Banks, accountants, lawyers, foreign exchange dealers and large and small private sector companies have been urged to be more vigilant in reporting suspicious transactions and detecting money laundering activities.
The call was made today by the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde during the opening of the fourth National Anti-Money Laundering Conference at Holiday Inn, Suva.
The conference, which is being hosted by the Reserve Bank of Fiji, is attended by 160 officials from anti-money laundering practicing authorities.
Mr Pryde said money laundering fuels corruption and organised crime which is why early detection is vital to combat such activities.
?It is not only the lawyers and the accountants that need to be vigilant but also the public who are used by money launders and duped into assisting the concealing of illicit or stolen proceeds,? ?Mr Pryde said.
Since 2006, there have been a total of 4,054 suspicious transactions reported by various financial institutions in Fiji.
The Fijian Government over the last few years has reformed Fiji?s laws on money laundering and proceeds of crime.
Mr Pryde said the law in Fiji has been strengthened to keep up with emerging trends in money laundering with the use of tools such as civil and conviction based penalty applications in the courts.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under RBF implements the Financial Transactions Reporting (FTR) Act and the FTR Regulations in order to fight against money laundering , terrorist financing, fraudulent activities and other financial crimes in Fiji.
?Fiji has one of the most sophisticated anti-money laundering legal frameworks in the Pacific. We have further amended the Proceeds of Crimes Act to allow for the forfeiture of unexplained wealth,? Mr Pryde said.
?This, as yet untested device allows the DPP to make an application in court for the forfeiture of assets that are ?unexplained? to the satisfaction of the court. In other words, the burden of proving that wealth is lawfully obtained is on the respondent or the person against whom the order is sought,? he added.
Mr Pryde said financial agencies need to work together in ?early detection of money laundering in order for authorities to quickly restrain the money and have it forfeited to the State.
3.?FIJI VOLUNTEER SCHEME RECEIVES A MILLION FOR 2014
The Fiji Volunteer Scheme (FVS) has been allocated $1million in the 2014 National Budget.
The FVS is an initiative of the State to reform the management of employment creation services in Fiji and is administered by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
PSC permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand said the budget allocation for this programme since 2012 was $400,000.
?The increase to $1million next year which is also an increase of 150 per cent marks the significance of the scheme and the demand and interest shown domestically as well as by other Pacific Islands in the region,? Mr Chand said.
Mr Chand said that the engagement of volunteers provides young people with an exciting opportunity to gain work experience and knowledge for further pursuance of permanent career opportunities.
He said more experienced people are needed to impart their expert skills and knowledge to the organization and those that work around them.
?In the region, volunteers provide assistances that directly benefit the grassroot members of the community while their remittances benefit the economy and the volunteer families,? Mr Chand said.
He added that the Fiji Volunteer Scheme has drawn a lot of attention in the region especially when providing expert skills at minimal costs.
?Our people are also able to adapt better to living and work conditions in their respective neighbouring Pacific Island Countries compared to Volunteers from further afield,? Mr Chand said.
?As a result, our neighbouring countries such as Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tokelau and the Timor Leste are among those Islands that have shown interest in seeking such assistance in the spirit of friendship and development cooperation.?
Since its beginning in March 2012, the FVS has engaged a total of 78 Volunteers under the scheme following which six have been engaged on teaching assignments in the Republic of Nauru, twelve as volunteer teachers in the Republic of Marshall Islands while the remaining sixty (60) have been engaged locally.
The various sectors that the volunteers have been engaged in include: ?Health, Education, Climate Change and Environment, Forestry, Public Administration, Social Security and Rural Development, International Relations and Good Governance and Information and Technology. ?The various fields include; administration and logistical support, Community Rehabilitation Assistance Program, Teachers in the Primary and Secondary Schools, Social Welfare, International Relations, Climate Change, Forest Management, IT, Executive and Legislative Parliamentary support, Local Government ?(Review of the Local Government Act) and the National Council for Elder persons.
Volunteerism is giving selflessly as a means of engaging people in the phases of national, regional and international development.
The FVS contributes to Pillar 5 of the People?s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress which is: ??Achieving Higher Economic Growth while Ensuring Sustainability.?
4.?SIGATOKA AWAITS OPENING OF UPGRADED VALLEY ROAD
People living along the banks of the Sigatoka river are eagerly awaiting the opening of the newly sealed Sigatoka Valley Road.
Sigatoka Special Administrator Jay Whyte said there is an air of excitement among the people of the area who are anticipating a lot of positive developments after completion of works on the road.
The 15 kilometre road upgrade is being carried out by the China Gezhoubd Group Company Limited (CGGC) with a funding of close to $40million from the Chinese government soft loan.
?It?s almost done and it looks wonderful to see people so happy about the new road,? Mr Whyte said.
?There will be a lot of positives from the completion of this road because there would be more efficient transportation of goods and services to the people in the highlands of Navosa and also there will be less maintenance for vehicles that would want to travel up the valley,? he added.
Mr Whyte said the Sigatoka Valley is well known for its agricultural output and has enormous untapped potential.
?The valley’s scenery and pristine environment also provides potential for revenue generation and job creation through the tourism sector apart from its agricultural benefits,? he added.
Mr Whyte added that the recent announcement by the Prime Minister for a $60million road to connect Sigatoka to Serea is a step in the right direction.
The Sigatoka Valley project is the first one undertaken by CGGC in Fiji with the other being the Naqali – Serea road upgrade which is also likely to be ready in time for its opening early next year.