1.?SOCIAL JUSTICE PREVAILS FOR WORKERS -?The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment has ensured that social justice is served to 140 workers after the Ministry recently recovered and paid out about $63,000 arrears of wages for a period of three years.
2.?PUBLIC SERVICE AIMS FOR EXCELLENCE -?The Fijian civil service continues to aim for excellence in order to meet and also surpass the expectation of its customers.
3.?FIJI?S HIGH COMMISSION IN UK BRIEFS ALL PARTY GROUPS -?Fiji?s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Solo Mara briefed the All Party Political Group (APPG) on the South Pacific about the 2013 Constitution and the September general elections at the Westminster Parliamentary complex in London earlier this month.
4.?WELFARE BENEFICIARIES EQUIPPED WITH BUSINESS SKILLS -?Twenty welfare beneficiaries of the Care and Protection Program, the Poverty Benefit Scheme and those currently dependent on the monthly allowances will be able to venture into small-medium enterprises and become financially independent.
5.?GLOBAL STRATEGY TO IMPROVE AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL STATISTICS -?The Ministry of Agriculture facilitated the first stakeholders meeting on Tuesday 20th?May to introduce global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics.
6.?STRENGTHENING FARMERS AND MARKET LINKS CONSULTATION WORKSHOP -?The Ministry of Agriculture organized a consultation workshop yesterday to address problems and issues hindering the current farmer-market linkage potentials in the Cakaudrove Province.
7.?CWM CHILDREN?S WARD RECIEVES TIMELY DONATION -?The Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital Children?s Ward got a boost with new furniture and books donated by International School Suva yesterday.
8.?FIJI NATIONAL SPORTS COMMISSION AND THINK PACIFIC SIGN MOU -?The Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC) and Think Pacific signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, which will provide a framework for the two parties to work together to achieve shared physical activity and sports development aims.
1.?SOCIAL JUSTICE PREVAILS FOR WORKERS
The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment has ensured that social justice is served to 140 workers after the Ministry recently recovered and paid out about $63,000 arrears of wages for a period of three years.
For a 23 year-old worker, the payout will assist him further his education in maritime studies which he intended to complete for quite some time while a 24 year old mother said the payment was timely as she anticipated the birth of another child.
Minister Jone Usamate said the Ministry is proud to have made a difference in the lives of these workers and accord them with what is rightfully theirs.
?This pay-out is indicative of Government?s commitment to ensure that all workers receive social justice through the ?just wages? provision enshrined in Fiji?s 2013 Constitution,? Mr Usamate said.
Mr Usamate highlighted that the main issue identified in this case was the non-payment of wages for the hours of work done by the workers.
He commended the management of the organisation involved for cooperating and paying the workers their rightful wages and benefits under the country?s labour laws.
?Our aim is to appreciate the vital contribution of our workers in national wealth creation. This means that employers must realize the value of their workers and their needs to sustain their livelihood whilst contributing towards the employers? profitability,? Mr Usamate said.
Mr Usamate also thanked the Ministry?s investigation team for their hardwork in ensuring the payments to workers were made.
?This was one of the biggest investigations conducted by the Ministry. A total of 219,888 Wages and Time record documents were audited for 1200 staff by 17 Ministry staff,? Mr Usamate said.
?The 140 workers were mostly employed in manual work.?
Workers and family members present during the presentation of the cheques were grateful to the Fijian Government for the payout.
Meanwhiile, the Labour Standard Service of the Ministry will be conducting training on the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) 2007 for the management and workers of the organisation so that all are well informed of their rights and responsibilities under the labour laws.
2.?PUBLIC SERVICE AIMS FOR EXCELLENCE
The Fijian civil service continues to aim for excellence in order to meet and also surpass the expectation of its customers.
That is the word from the Minister for Labour, Jone Usamate who opened a one day Best Practices Conference at the Warwick Fiji Resort at Korolevu, Nadroga today.
The conference was held for representatives and champions from different government agencies involved in the Service Excellence Awards ? a public service wide, process re-engineering program, already in its ninth year of implementation that aims to streamline organizational processes and procedures within the public service.
Mr Usamate said Fiji was still undergoing major changes through transformation which will benefit all Fijians.
?The reforms, which are currently underway, are building a stronger and a more cohesive public service that continues to strive for excellence,? Mr Usamate said.
?For too long Fijians, the private sector, business houses and more have thought of the civil service as not capable for excellence but this is fast changing.?
A pioneer for excellence during his days at the former Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF) before joining Government, Mr Usamate said he has associated himself very closely with the public service.
?I have reviewed the Service Excellence Awards (SEA) for many years and I have noticed changes in the service since the inception of the programme,? Minister Usamate said.
?But we need to ensure that we are still on the game because the signs have been positive. Fiji has only for the second time seen continuous growth in the economy for five consecutive years and this year, we might be able to surpass all economic growth rates because we continue to strive just as the private sector.?
Permanent secretary for Finance, Filimoni Waqabaca also spoke at the conference and highlighted the need to always aim high.
?We need to set a higher benchmark, set the right practices and work towards achieving it. That?s how the civil service is,? Mr Waqabaca said.
?We can achieve excellence in the public service because we will show them (Fijians) that this is a changed service and we will continue to soar for excellence.?
The aim of this conference is to share practices that have been used within organizations to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the organizations processes and representatives of the various ministries and departments will hope to continue its efforts towards service excellence for the benefit of their service to the nation.
Other speakers included Director Immigration Major Nemani Vuniwaqa, Fiji Revenue and Customs chief executive officer Jitoko Tikolevu, Mr Mark Halabe of Mark One Apparel and Fiji Correctional Services Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Ifereimi Vasu.
3.?FIJI?S HIGH COMMISSION IN UK BRIEFS ALL PARTY GROUPS
Fiji?s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Solo Mara briefed the All Party Political Group (APPG) on the South Pacific about the 2013 Constitution and the September general elections at the Westminster Parliamentary complex in London earlier this month.
Mr Mara said a lot of discussion was focused on the new electoral system and the political landscape that this will generate for Fiji.
?This is part of the Fiji High Commission?s engagement with the political establishment here in the UK to raise Fiji?s political profile and awareness within the Parliamentary Palace of Westminster,? Mr Mara said.
Members of both houses present expressed their support for the constitutional provision creating equal citizenry for all Fijians, including the progressive Bill of Rights provision of the 2013 Constitution, and similarly extended their good wishes for a successful election in September.
The South Pacific APPG meeting was chaired by Ms Megg Munn, the Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley in the House of Commons and attended by?Baroness Winifred Taylor of Bolton (Labour),?Lord Leslie Griffith of Burry Port (Labour), Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Conservatives), Baroness Gloris Hooper (Conservative), Lord Diljit Singh Rana (Crossbench), Mr Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford in the House of Commons and Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil MP?(Scottish National Party).
4.?WELFARE BENEFICIARIES EQUIPPED WITH BUSINESS SKILLS
Twenty welfare beneficiaries of the Care and Protection Program, the Poverty Benefit Scheme and those currently dependent on the monthly allowances will be able to venture into small-medium enterprises and become financially independent.
These recipients, who are particularly unemployed single mothers and widows living near the Suva-Nausori corridor, have undergone a week-long business skills training facilitated by the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED).
The ?Competency-based Economies through Formation of Entrepreneurs (CEFE) business training? was held at the Nausori welfare office based at Tailevu House in Suva.
The trainees were presented with certificates by the Project Manager for Ministry of Strategic Planning Integrated Human Resource Development (IHRPD) Program, Mr?Marika Naiyaga last Friday.
In his opening address, Mr Naiyaga said the training opened new opportunities for the welfare recipients to become successful business operators.
?Take what has been taught to you during this workshop and start your business, with patience watch your business grow-nurture your business like a flower and soon you will reap the rewards of your efforts. The Department of Social Welfare and government of the day has faith in your abilities to make good use of the skills and information provided, invest it effectively to grow your businesses and lead by example for your families and communities,? Mr?Naiyaga said.
?Today marks a new journey for all of you here, now that you have the required skills, you will also be assisted with a funding of $1600 as a start-up capital to help you start your own businesses. In 2013, the Ministry and NCSMED has trained and assisted 25 recipients who are now operating successful businesses ranging from canteen, bakery, poultry, ginger farming, banana planting, sheep and vegetable farming, I am glad to say that some of these recipients have enlarged and diversified their businesses.?
Following this training, Ms Um Hadiba, a 45 year old single mother from Makoi Hart Home is now determined to start her catering business. Since 2012, she is being assisted through the Care and Protection monthly allowances to support her daughter?s education.
?I am grateful to the Department of Social Welfare for creating such opportunities for single mothers. The workshop has provided me with indepth knowledge on managing a business, about transactions keeping, cash flows and developing business plans. Currently, I am getting $25 monthly allowances with $30 food voucher from welfare and I have realised that I cannot be dependent on this amount forever, especially, as I am a single parent and I want to have a substantive income earning,? Ms Hadiba said.
?I am looking forward to start my fish and chips business. I already have a business plan and currently I am looking for an ideal location to set up my stall in Suva. I am confident to make my business a success and as my business grows, I am hoping to employ single mothers. I will no longer be dependent on anyone to support me and one day my daughter will be proud of my achievements,? Ms Hadiba said.
Similarly, Ms Inise Vakaluma, a 62 year old widow from Davuilevu Housing, 9 miles also took advantage of the training to open a new business.
?I have been receiving welfare assistance since 2012. That?s when my husband passed away and I had to look after my youngest son, who is slow learner (intellectual disability), and is a student at the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) vocational centre. I am getting $60 monthly allowances with additional $30 food voucher. I have also set up a vegetable stall at RB South Point in Nakasi,? Ms Vakaluma said.
?This training has challenged me to open up a new business, which will be a canteen and the money earned will also help me to send my daughter for higher education. I would like to thank the Social Welfare Department for empowering me with the skills and funding to expand my business,? she added.
In announcing the 2014 budget, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had reiterated that Fiji cannot support a culture of dependency.
?With an allocation of $500,000 the ?Welfare Graduation Scheme? focuses on moving recipients from ?welfare to workfare.? We must commit ourselves to the idea that poverty is a temporary state. As a society, we must uphold the value of work and self-sufficiency. When people move from welfare to work, they regain their self-esteem and confidence,? PM Bainimarama had emphasized.
To date, the Department of Social Welfare has assisted 109 recipients into starting their own businesses, which are running successfully and this program is closely monitored by the Department and NCSMED.
5.?GLOBAL STRATEGY TO IMPROVE AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL STATISTICS
The Ministry of Agriculture facilitated the first stakeholders meeting on Tuesday 20th?May to introduce global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics.
Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Ropate Ligairi highlighted the importance of statistics for policy makers and development practitioners.
?These two driving force are responsible for developing investment strategies to promote economic growth in finding many challenges in the changing face of agriculture in the twenty-first century,? Mr Ligairi said.
Principal Economic Planning Officer (Statistics), Sera Bose added that this Global Strategy is an initiative of the United Nations Statistical Commission in partnership between International Agencies, developed and developing countries which involves an extensive consultation process.
?It provides a framework for national and international statistical systems to enable them to produce and apply the basic information needed in decision making,? Mrs Bose said.
?It is the basis for renewed initiative of capacity building in agricultural statistics; mobilization of resources and provides a conceptual framework to meet emerging requirements.
?It improves the decision making for poverty reduction, increases food security, provides sustainable agriculture and rural development.
?Statistics also enables the target countries to develop sustainable statistical systems for production and dissemination of accurate and timely agricultural and rural statistics, which is comparable over time and across countries.?
Moreover, agriculture and rural statistics is important, because three out of four poor people in developing countries live in rural areas that mostly rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods.
?Currently in Fiji, there is a need to measure agricultural performance and the results of agricultural investment has become an increasingly pressing priority,? she said.
She added that there is a wide range of important policy issues depending on good quality agricultural and rural statistics.
6.?STRENGTHENING FARMERS AND MARKET LINKS CONSULTATION WORKSHOP
The Ministry of Agriculture organized a consultation workshop yesterday to address problems and issues hindering the current farmer-market linkage potentials in the Cakaudrove Province.
Fifty two participants from as far as Wailevu and Tawake attended the workshop at the Yaroi village hall in Savusavu with the presence of the agriculture officers and exporters.
The workshop was officially opened by the director for Crop Extension, Mrs Unaisi Waibuta who stressed the importance of trust, understanding, sustainability and reliance between Farmers and Exporters.
?Role of farmers is really important both locally and internationally, it is important that we base our work from these linkages as this can map out a way to strengthen the farmer and market relationship,? she said.
Representative from the Agriculture Marketing Authority Nemia Leve advised the farmers of the need to be consistent with the production rate of crops.
?Exporters are looking for farmers that produce quality crops and are consistent in their production irrespective of increase or decrease in price,? said Mr. Leve.
?I urge the Cakaudrove farmers to program their supply of dalo and cassava as they are high in demand and market will be a problem if the supply is not consistent,? he said.
A local Kava Exporter Anil Behari urged farmers to plant more to promote local produce in overseas markets.
Meanwhile, the Savusavu Town Council in its bid to help farmers market their produce has upgraded the market to address the needs of the farmers.
Cakaudrove Farmers Representative said the workshop was something farmers look forward to as this is the time their problems are addressed.
Cakaudrove has a total population of 32,049 with 10,630 are farmers growing dalo, yaqona, cassava, coconut-copra, vanilla, ginger and cocoa.
7.?CWM CHILDREN?S WARD RECIEVES TIMELY DONATION
The Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital Children?s Ward got a boost with new furniture and books donated by International School Suva yesterday.
CWM consultant paediatrician, Dr Lisi Tikoduadua said the donated items worth $3000 will be used by children and their parents during their stay at the ward.
The items include easy chairs, coffee tables, diapers, drawers, books and a book shelf.
?We admit more than 2000 children coming not only from Suva but through referrals around hospitals in Fiji. We also get patients from other Pacific island countries such as Vanuatu and Solomon Islands,? Dr Tikoduadua said.
International School principal, Dr Anna Marsden said the donation was made possible through the initiative of Year 10 students, who worked together with the Parent Teachers Friends Association (PTFA), for a six-month fundraising drive.
?We want our children and other young people to be responsible and know that they have a duty to support our society and make a difference. We know that our children are capable of bringing about positive changes and we are delighted that they can do something,? Dr Marsden said.
8.?FIJI NATIONAL SPORTS COMMISSION AND THINK PACIFIC SIGN MOU
The Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC) and Think Pacific signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, which will provide a framework for the two parties to work together to achieve shared physical activity and sports development aims.
FNSC sports development manager, Giles Smith said the partnership will allow them to engage Think Pacific for development programs.
?The Think Pacific team has a strong background in Sports coaching and event management, which will complement our existing Development team. We very much look forward to working together with them moving forward to reach our common development goals,? Mr Smith said.
A United Kingdom organisation, Think Pacific provides funding, planning and logistical support to enable partners achieve their specific sports development aims.
Think Pacific has already worked with FNSC in conducting the recent school holiday Sports Camp hosted by Fiji Sports Council and plans are already in place to conduct further joint programs throughout Fiji this year.