MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 29/04/14 5:00PM

  1. MINISTRY CELEBRATES WORLD DAY FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH AT WORK – The National Occupational Health and Safety Service under the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment is today celebrating the World Day for Safety and Health at Work with the theme ?Safety and Health in the use of Chemicals at Work?.??

 

  1. GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW EXISTING WATER LAWS – The Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities will be reviewing existing water laws to streamline various stakeholder functions and powers for effective water and sanitation management in Fiji.

 

  1. REGIONAL Health OFFICIALS? meet to chart way forward – Senior Health officials from the Pacific? are currently attending a two?day meet to chart the way forward for a better and healthier Pacific.

 

  1. WORKSHOP AIMS TO RECOGNISE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES – The Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto today opened the Special Olympic Volunteer Workshop at the Suva Special School in Namadi, Suva.

 

  1. LANDOWNERS COLLECT $33M IN RENT – More than 1600 landowning units have earned about $33.27million in rent subsidy since 2008.

 

  1. FIJI EYES EMIRATES FOR SUGAR EXPORT MARKET – Fiji will export sugar to the United Arab Emirates if negotiations with stakeholders are successful.

 

  1. CONSISTENT DROP IN WORKPLACE MISHAPS – The Ministry of Labour has successfully achieved a consistent reduction of 3 to 7 per cent in total workplace accident rates per annum for the last 15 years.

 

8. Institutions welcome Grant allocation for elderly assistanceAs part of government?s pledge to improve service delivery, a total of $110,000 was awarded as grants to established institutions for older persons by the national council of older persons (NCOP) yesterday.

 

1 MINISTRY CELEBRATES WORLD DAY FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH AT WORK

The National Occupational Health and Safety Service under the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment is today celebrating the World Day for Safety and Health at Work with the theme ?Safety and Health in the use of Chemicals at Work?. ?

The day is marked with a special Awards Night to honor companies with best chemical management practices in Fiji and to recognize the significance and commitment of employers and their organizations towards upholding safe and healthy practices in the workplace.

The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Mr Jone Usamate said the celebration of the World OHS Day is an integral part of the global strategy on Occupational Safety and Health at the workplaces and promotes the creation of preventative safety and health culture in the workplaces.

?Our Ministry?s aim is to ensure safe and productivity driven workplaces in Fiji and only safe workplaces can be productive workplaces, therefore I urge all employers and workers to take extra care and all necessary safety measures while at work,? Minister Usamate said.

The ILO records an estimated 2 million deaths from work-related accidents and diseases each year. In the case of Fiji, the severity is not that high. However, the compensation payout for deaths and injuries for both private and public sector amounts to $800,000 from the beginning of this year.? From this amount injuries and deaths recorded by exposure of chemicals are minimal.

?The Ministry has not recorded any deaths directly related to chemical exposure in the country since the implementation of the Control of Hazardous Substance Regulations (COHS) in 2009. However, one injury case was reported and has been compensated,? Minister Usamate said.

The Ministry?s Chemical and Hygiene Unit in its effort to promote healthy and safe workplaces conducted a pilot project this year on developing best chemical management practises with two organisations in the Private and Public Sector.

?The aim of this project was to establish sound management of chemicals in the workplace.? The project, which involved the auditing of workplaces on safe storage and use of chemicals, will set a bench mark for the other employers to learn and to make improvements in handling of hazardous chemical at their workplaces,? Mr Usamate said.

As part of commemorating the World Day for OHS and to raise awareness on the use of Chemicals at work the Ministry in collaboration with its tripartite partners, the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the Pacific Island Countries and Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) and Fiji Trades Unit Congress (FTUC) also organized workshops to educate both employers and workers on safe of use chemicals at the workplace.

The major aim of these workshops were to increase awareness on safe management of chemical in the workplace, its implementation and to reduce the number of chemical related illness, injuries and workplace accidents in regards to handling of hazardous chemical.

A total of about 85 workers and employers have been trained on the safe use of chemicals at workplace in this workshop.

The Ministry verifies the registered chemicals with the requirements under the COHS and monitors the safe use and storage of these chemicals to ensure prevention of occupational diseases, injuries and deaths in the workplace.

A total of 357 companies in Fiji have registered the chemicals utilized by their companies with the National OHS Service.? The Minister urges employers who have not yet registered to comply with the requirements under the COHS Regulations and register the chemicals being utilized at their workplaces.

 

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2 GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW EXISTING WATER LAWS

The Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities will be reviewing existing water laws to streamline various stakeholder functions and powers for effective water and sanitation management in Fiji.

This was highlighted by the Minister of Works, Mr Timoci Natuva during the Water Supply Management Training for Ministry of Health in conjunction with Department of Water and Sewerage held in Suva today.

The workshop aims to provide an opportunity for relevant experts and policy advisors to discuss on key water related issues affecting Fiji and seek possible solutions.

Minister Natuva says a consultation with relevant stakeholders found that the rural population are lagging behind in terms of access to clean water and efficient sewerage services.

?The analysis also confirmed an enabling over-arching water legislation to cover all the issue about water allocations, water tariffs in Fiji is lacking,? said Mr Natuva.

?The new legislation should provide the required legal framework for water supply management in Fiji,? Minister Natuva said.

He highlighted that it should also provide the platform for coordination among agencies and sets the direction of national positions and priorities regarding rural water and sanitation issues.?

Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Fiji is trying its best to achieve the target of reducing by half, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by year 2015.

Fiji?s Rural water and sanitation scheme was allocated a total of $5 million under the 2014 budget.

Minister Natuva urged all stakeholders to learn and share ideas and experiences to benefit the community and its people on effective water and sanitation management in Fiji.

 

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3 REGIONAL Health OFFICIALS? meet to chart way forward

Senior Health officials from the Pacific? are currently attending a two?day meet to chart the way forward for a better and healthier Pacific.

Opened by the Fijian Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma, the regional meeting provides the platform for the Pacific Health Ministers meeting which will be held next year.

In opening the meeting, Dr Sharma said it was high time that the Pacific became ?serious in addressing health issues mainly non ? communicable diseases which is the single highest killer in the region.?

?Your call to this important forum is to set the platform for ministers on a mere open level playing field in the future Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Ministers Meeting 2015,? he said.

?Take recognition that the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) era is not left out of the post 2015 development agenda.?

Health directors, chief executive officers and permanent secretaries attending the meet will also review the required architecture for health and will also establish a terms of reference.

The senior officials will also be reporting to their respective economic/trade ministers in preparation to the SIDS meeting in July this year.

?Your ability to negotiate policy and technical support will remain paramount if you are able to make a difference on an escalating health agenda,? Dr Sharma added.

?Consider youth issues of substance abuse, alcohol, cigarette exposure and increasing mental issues and motor vehicle accidents. All these variables increase our individual health budget and already far too many of us have a high global index on aid dependency.?

The two day meeting concludes tomorrow.

 

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4 WORKSHOP AIMS TO RECOGNISE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto today opened the Special Olympic Volunteer Workshop at the Suva Special School in Namadi, Suva.

In his opening address, the Minister highlighted the role of sports in raising awareness on those with disabilities.

?Special Olympics is raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Through sports, they showcase the skills and dignity of SO athletes and also bring together communities to see and take part in the transformative power of sports.?

He told the volunteers present at the workshop that they now join millions around the world who find the time to make the world a better place.

He reiterated that the Special Olympics is about transforming lives, including their own (volunteers).

?It?s about a spirit of giving and teamwork. It’s about making your community and neighbourhood a more welcoming and accepting place for people of all abilities,? added Mr Naupoto.

He also thanked the trainers as volunteers for coming forward as they will work among the most vulnerable in the world that are often ignored, neglected and excluded from schools and society.

Director Operation Asia Pacific Region Mr Simon Koh said; ?Special Olympics provides year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympics – type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.?

?This is to give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other special Olympics athletes and the community.”

?We are optimistic that this is a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities for this minority group in Fiji to be recognised and are empowered to effectively participate in our society,? Mr Koh said.

The training is the first for Volunteers who will be working with children and adults with Intellectual disabilities through sports and recreation activities for the Special Olympics movement.

It is aimed at empowering and educating the volunteers about the Special Olympics movement so that they could become advocates of the Special Olympics mission.

Former student of the Suva Special School in Namadi Miliai Rokodi, 19, said; ?My dream is to participate in a Special Olympics.?

“I attended this special school from 2007 to 2012 and this year, the school has employed me again as a typist and office girl. I used to represent the school as an athlete running in 200 and 400 meters and also played volleyball and netball,? said Rokodi.

The Lutu, Wainibuka lass is looking forward to completing the workshop and learning ways of serving and empowering her fellow peers in the future and hopefully participate in a Special Olympics in the region.

 

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5 LANDOWNERS COLLECT $33M IN RENT

More than 1600 landowning units have earned about $33.27million in rent subsidy since 2008.

This is after the establishment of the Committee on Better Utilisation of Land (CBUL) initiated by Prime Minister Rear Admiral Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.

After the formation of? CBUL the rate of Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (ALTA) lease renewals increased to 80 per cent in 2013 from 43 per cent in 1997.

The objective of CBUL is to ensure expired ALTA leases are renewed for sugarcane farming and to allow landowners and farmers achieve a higher return through the conversion of land into productive agricultural and commercial use.

The Prime Minister said more agricultural leases than ever were now being renewed with landowners realising the advantages of re-leasing their land.

One of the biggest landowning units in Tavua, Navusabalavu has seen better returns from their land after re-leasing it to tenants (farmers) for sugarcane farming.

Navusabalavu landowning unit head, Manasa Naiceru said they have 100 per cent renewals for their sugarcane farming land in Tagitagi, Yasiyasi, Toko and Vatia in Tavua.

Mr Naiceru said they successfully renewed more than 80 leases with 189 sugarcane farmers leasing Navusabalavu land.

Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Manasa Vaniqi said more than 6000 cane farmers in the Western and Northern Division have benefitted under the CBUL.

?A total of 7864 cane leases expired since 2008, out of which 6241 were renewed. As for non-cane farming leases such as dairy and other agricultural leases, 1190 were renewed out of 2308 leases,? Mr Vaniqi said.

?The total leases expired since 2008 were 10,132 and total renewals done amount to 7431. Our target for 2015 is 2000 renewals to 85 per cent. ?

ITaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) general manager, Alipate Qetaki said the CBUL, landowners were encouraged to renew land leases. Sugarcane farmer, Ram Ratan of Veisaru, Ba said the lease renewal of his three acre land gave him a new hope to continue farming.

?My family of four relies on sugarcane farming for income and survival. If it had not been for the lease renewal, I would have to vacate the land and find a new place to start all over again. I applied for my cane land lease renewal in 2012 and it was approved in 2013 for 30 years,? Mr Ratan said.

?I praise the Bainimarama Government for their efforts and especially, the Prime Minister for thinking about us farmers. I believe the land is the only thing in the world worth working for because it?s the only thing that lasts.?

Mr Vaniqi highlighted the Fijian Government?s political will to revive and sustain the sugar industry as it supported the livelihoods of around 200,000 Fijians.

?Government raised the unimproved capital value (UCV) to 10 per cent from 6 per cent and subsidized 50 per cent of the increased UCV. The other half is paid by the tenants and it was a substantial benefit to the landowners. It also encouraged farmers to come back to sugarcane farming.?

PS Vaniqi said Fiji?s dairy industry also took advantage of opportunities provided through CBUL.

?The dairy industry, such as Tailevu North and Waibau in Naitasiri and some other agricultural farming areas also capitalised on CBUL initiative,? he said.

?At the same time for sugar sector, we are now able to produce around two million tonnes of cane with the mill capacity at 4.2 million tonnes.

 

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6 FIJI EYES EMIRATES FOR SUGAR EXPORT MARKET

Fiji will export sugar to the United Arab Emirates if negotiations with stakeholders are successful.

Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said the decision to pursue new sugar markets was because of stability in market trends.

?These are markets like in the Middle East, Bangladesh and China. The issue for us at the moment is the premium we are getting at the moment from the European Union, the market prices are reasonable,? Mr Khan said.

?The UAE?s position as a new economic player on the global stage augurs well for Fiji as a sugar-producing nation.

?There are two things that we got to look at because the industry is capital intensive a lot of costs are fixed costs.

?At the last International Sugar Organization meet held in Nadi the Prime Minister, who heads the Sugar portfolio, said we needed more engagement, more co-operation, more understanding of each other?s positions and points of view.?

Prime Minister Bainimarama is confident the ISO will deliver better outcomes for the sugar industry as a whole.

Over the past 20 years, the ISO has evolved from an almost irrelevant commodity organisation with a questionable future into the largest inter-governmental commodity organisation in the world.

The group has now 87 member countries, including, most recently, Sri Lanka, which joined us a couple of months ago.

On the ground farmers like 50-year-old Kanti Lal of Solovi in Nadi has praised government for its efforts to improve and sustain the sugar industry.

?I thank Government for introducing the CBUL programme for farmers to utilise idle land. Most farmers have capitalised on this initiative,? Mr. Lal said.

?The cane payment system has improved,? Mr. Lal said.

A carpenter by profession, he left his work to become a sugarcane farmer after witnessing the changes Government implemented to improve the sugar industry.

 

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7 CONSISTENT DROP IN WORKPLACE MISHAPS

The Ministry of Labour has successfully achieved a consistent reduction of 3 to 7 per cent in total workplace accident rates per annum for the last 15 years.

And there has been significant general improvements in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) standards.

Minister for Labour Jone Usamate said Fiji was asked to document our own successful OHS model by the International Labour Office Safe Work Geneva in order to promote OHS best practices.

?The OHS law covers all workers under contracts of service and those under contracts for service, whether unionised or not,? Mr Usamate said.

?We have successfully achieved a consistent reduction of 3 to 7 per cent in total workplace accident rates per annum for the last 15 years with significant general improvements in OHS standards in Fiji?s workplaces with significant social and economic benefits to the nation.?

The Labour Minister said Government ensured that even if workers were not members of unions, they remained under OHS law protection.

?The Employment Regulation Promulgation (ERP) and OHS legislations adequately protect the lives of all workers in the workplace, whether the workers are members of trade unions or not,? Mr Usamate said.

?The ERP, the Wage Regulations Orders (WROs), the Mediation Services and the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) also protect the interests of all workers.?

Minister Usamate noted the minimum labour standards under the ERP, the WROs, the Mediation Services and the NMW were specially designed to provide adequate wages and social protections for the marginalised workers who are not members of any trade unions.

?They comprise 72 per cent of the employment market,? Minister Usamate said.

Highlighting Fiji?s successful OHS model, the Labour Minister said Papua New Guinea adopted this model, which was under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Agreement between the Ministry of Labour and the PNG Labour Department.

The Fijian Labour Ministry has provided consultancy services to its PNG counterpart and completed PNG?s draft reformed OSH Bill in November 2013.

 

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8. Institutions welcome Grant allocation for elderly assistance

As part of government?s pledge to improve service delivery, a total of $110,000 was awarded as grants to established institutions for older persons by the national council of older persons (NCOP) yesterday.

The Minister for Social Welfare, Women & Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni said during the handover ceremony that this assistance is due to government?s commitment towards promoting an inclusive, protective, healthy and enabling environment for older persons. She highlighted that the assistance will ensure that those elderly persons living in various institutions will continue to be looked after.

Suva Relief Trust and Pearce Home chairperson Linley Barrack acknowledged the government for placing importance in the elderly and for setting up of NCOP.

?It shows government values old people communities and also sends a message to the wider society,? said Barrack.

The seven institutions who have signed the grants agreement include Channel Home of Compassion; father Law Home, Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS), Housing Assistance Relief Trust (HART), Society of Saint Vincent De Paul, Senior Citizens Ba Community Centre and Suva Relief Trust and Pearce Home.

 

MINFO