FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 23/03/15 5:00PM

1. PRIME MINISTER SENDS CONDOLENCE MESSAGE ON THE PASSING OF THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SINGAPORE – Prime Minister Hon Voreqe Bainimarama has sent a message of sympathy to his Singapore counterpart, Hon Lee Hsien Loong, on the passing of the former Prime Minister and founder of the City State of Singapore, His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew.

2. PARENTS COMMEND GOVERNMENT?S FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAMME – More than 20,000 Year 1 students will by the end of this week, receive government?s free breakfast programme following today?s launch at the Nakelo District School by Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama.

3. FIJI AND CHINA SIGN MOU ON FORESTRY COOPERATION – The Fijian government today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of the People?s Republic of China on forestry cooperation.

4. WORLD MET DAY CELEBRATIONS BEGINS IN SUVA – Fijians are becoming more aware of the importance of accurate and consistent information during times of natural disasters.

5. SECOND FIJIAN RELIEF TEAM LEAVES FOR VANUATU – A 40-member relief contingent left for Vanuatu today to assist in rehabilitation and relief work following the devastation in the country caused by Tropical Cyclone PAM.

6. ROKO TUI?S REMINDED OF DUTY TO THE PEOPLE – Roko Tui?s from the 14 provinces around the country are currently in a one week forum in Nukuloa, Ra to look at improving their work.

1 PRIME MINISTER SENDS CONDOLENCE MESSAGE ON THE PASSING OF THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SINGAPORE

Prime Minister Hon Voreqe Bainimarama has sent a message of sympathy to his Singapore counterpart, Hon Lee Hsien Loong, on the passing of the former Prime Minister and founder of the City State of Singapore, His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew.

In his message, Prime Minister Bainimarama paid tribute to Prime Minister Yew?s vision and commitment to build Singapore into a nation now envied across the globe.

?Fifty years on from a sleepy tropical port, Singapore has become the envy of many in the developed and developing world alike in wealth and progress to say the least. And such has been largely the vision of the late Founder. Truly, he has passed on satisfied in the fact that he has made Singapore meritocratic, corruption-free and equal for all races, a legacy that no doubt you will pass on?, the Prime Minister said.

The Head of the Fijian Government said that his government and the people of Fiji shared with Singapore ?these moments of grief and sorrow.?

?Fiji is indebted to the late Founder for having stood with us in the early years of our nationhood,? PM Bainimarama said. ?And Your Excellency has continued to share your advances bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally based on our common vision for the well being of our pluralistic societies in a rapidly changing world.?

His Excellency, Lee Kuan Yew passed away this morning at the age of 91.

2 PARENTS COMMEND GOVERNMENT?S FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAMME

More than 20,000 Year 1 students will by the end of this week, receive government?s free breakfast programme following today?s launch at the Nakelo District School by Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama.

Commending government?s free breakfast programme which includes a 250ml of milk and a weetbix biscuit were parents of the seven schools that are located in the Nakelo district.

Nakelo District School parent, Lavenia Naiveli said that today?s event was an emotional one for her as a parent because milk and weetbix are considered luxury food items that most parents are not able to afford.

?For us that live in the rural areas, putting milk on the table is sometimes not possible and today to see my daughter receive her packet of milk and weetbix is a dream come true,? Mrs Naiveli said.

?I am thankful and appreciative to government for making this possible and for giving our young children a nutritious and healthy breakfast before they start their day.?

Similar comments were shared by Visama District School parent, Laitia Leiloma.

?I would like to thank government for this assistance as most of us have difficulties in buying milk for our children,? Mr Leiloma said.

The Prime Minister said that government is building healthy bodies in this first year of the children?s school life to help in the building of healthy minds.

?My Government promised through the FijiFirst manifesto that we would provide this milk from the start of the school year. It has taken a bit longer than we thought but we have been determined to get the program exactly right for the sake of every year one child ? no matter where they live – and here it is,? PM Bainimarama said.

?As with our free education program for all students in primary and secondary schools, no longer is a child?s family circumstances the determining factor in whether he or she receives adequate nutrition in the first year of primary school or gets the best possible start in life.?

As of today, the Ministry of Education has distributed milk to all schools in the Nausori district, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki and schools in the Southern Lau group in its first shipment.

3 FIJI AND CHINA SIGN MOU ON FORESTRY COOPERATION

The Fijian government today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of the People?s Republic of China on forestry cooperation.

The MOU will enable both countries to share experiences on forestry developments, training, research, climate change and the exportation of forest products to China.

Fiji?s Minister for Fisheries and Forests Hon. Osea Naiqamu said the MoU will help them work towards improving their resource base and building a more resilient forest sector.

?We see this MOU as a means for building closer ties and more collaboration and we are confident that it will open new doors and create new opportunities within the forest sector of the two countries,? Hon Naiqamu said.

?It is also our hope that this MoU will add more value to our current collaboration and will pave the way forward for a much stronger economic cooperation and capacity building,? he said.

Chinese Minister of State Forestry Administration Zhao Shucong in signing the MoU said this was a starting point for both countries to be able to improve their resources and to share their experiences of the Fiji forestry developments.

Mr Zhao said the MoU will also strengthen and promote forestry cooperation to a higher level and build up more cooperation between the two countries.

He has also invited the Minister for Forests to visit China in order to be able to share more experiences and knowledge.

4 WORLD MET DAY CELEBRATIONS BEGINS IN SUVA

Fijians are becoming more aware of the importance of accurate and consistent information during times of natural disasters.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Hon Mere Vuniwaqa, at the World Meteorology Day celebrations in Suva today. At the event, the Minister said the weather office plays a vital role in providing the essential information on the weather and climate.

Building on theme for this year?s celebration ?Climate Knowledge for Climate Action?, she said the timely and correct information on climate variability was very important to the livelihood of people with very few now contesting the evidence or the need to take responsibility on climate change.

?Climate knowledge can and must support this process, helping decision makers at all levels to make better decisions with available information,? she said.

Speaking on the situation on the ground, Mrs Vuniwaqa said she had seen firsthand the impact of encroaching seawater to sugarcane farms in the North with the soil salinity affecting the livelihood of people who for decades depended on the land.

Government for its part continues to boost the capacity and capabilities of the Fiji Meteorological Services (FMS) with a budget allocation of $5.7m in 2015 since it provides timely advice to climate sensitive sectors.

?Today, the average weather forecast of five days in advance is as skillful as the two-day forecast 25 years ago and seasonal climate forecasts have become increasingly skilful,? Minister Vuniwaqa said.

She said Government will continue to work on expanding weather and climate monitoring network; in further improving predictive capabilities and introduce new methods and techniques including climate models.

?The Bainimarama Government is committed to all Fijians to provide an essential service that is aimed to reduce the loss of life and property caused by disasters and other catastrophic events related to weather, climate and water,? the Minister said.

To commemorate the day, the FMS office at Fletcher Road had an open day where schools were invited to take a tour of the office and the booths displaying weather and environment related materials.

5 SECOND FIJIAN RELIEF TEAM LEAVES FOR VANUATU

A 40-member relief contingent left for Vanuatu today to assist in rehabilitation and relief work following the devastation in the country caused by Tropical Cyclone PAM.

In farewelling the contingent, the Minister for Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Hon Inia Seruiratu urged the officers to uphold the values and principles of their profession as they are being deployed into a stressful environment.

?Vanuatu right now needs technical people for assessment, survey and clean up. You are now being deployed to a stressful environment because of the devastation caused by the TC PAM. I expect you to uphold good values and to respect the structures that exist in Vanuatu as a sovereign nation?, Minister Seruiratu said.

In highlighting the long and cordial association Fiji and Vanuatu shared, Mr Seruiratu urged the team to carry out their duties appropriately.

The relief team comprises of 30 military officers and 28 military officers and 12 health workers who will be in Vanuatu for 14 days. 10 military personnel is expected to leave for Vanuatu tomorrow to assist in rehabilitation work.

The health officers were farewelled at the Ministry?s Headquarters this morning by the Minister for health and Medical services Hon. Jone Usamate.

?I am happy to note that we were approached for help and we are able to respond to the call. But I must remind you that you must live up to the expectation and give your level best and meet the challenges that are in front of you. Also in the line of duty you must look after yourself also and make a safe journey back home?, said Minister Usamate.

The total cost of deployment is around $250,000.00 funded by the Prime Ministers Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.

6 ROKO TUI REMINDED OF DUTY TO THE PEOPLE

Roko Tui?s from the 14 provinces around the country are currently in a one week forum in Nukuloa, Ra to look at improving their work.

Opened by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs permanent secretary Savenaca Kaunisela, the week-long meeting will look at how best the Government executive heads of the provinces are able to enhance more awareness on the programmes and initiatives provided Government

?Government has a lot on offer for iTaukei?s pertaining to improving lifestyles through various initiatives which can be tapped,? he said.

?We need to ensure that we (Roko Tuis) are aware of our roles and responsibilities towards a high performance team that would bring about effective and efficient participation of the iTaukei in the Nation’s peace, progress and prosperity.?

Mr Kaunisela urged them to carry out the work diligently taking into consideration the needs of the iTaukei at their various provinces.

Mr Kaunisela also insisted and reminded the Roko Tui’s to up-skill and ensure that they meet the minimum qualification requirement prescribed by the Board and the Ministry.

He added that they need to work within their budgets and making sure projects are completed on time.

?The work that you?re doing is a calling and Government expects Roko Tuis to be true examples and take responsibility of your area of work which you have been assigned to do, help mediate and be neutral, when doing community outreach programs,? Mr Kaunisela added.