1. FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER EXTENDS SYMPATHIES TO AUSTRALIAN PM – Fijian Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has sent a letter of sympathy to the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard following the devastations in Queensland caused by recent flooding.
2. FIJI MISSION IN CANBERRA ON STANDBY FOR FIJI NATIONALS – Fiji nationals living in Queensland, Australia have been requested to contact the Fiji High Commission in Canberra should they require consular services following adverse flooding and severe post-cyclone weather.
3. $20MILLION TOP UP FROM SUGAR SECTOR – Government’ efforts to modernise the sugar industry will bring in an extra $20million into the economy this year.
4. MINISTRY TO FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT – The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources will be implementing stronger measures to ensure that land development in the country does not damage the environment.
1 FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER EXTENDS SYMPATHIES TO AUSTRALIAN PM
Fijian Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has sent a letter of sympathy to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard following the devastations in Queensland caused by recent flooding.
“May I take this opportunity, on behalf of the people of Fiji, to convey to you, Prime Minister, our deep sadness at the extent of the flooding in Queensland associated with the monsoonal system, and the loss of life, destruction to property and suffering to the general public,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.
“Having also very recently suffered at the wrath of severe Tropical Cyclone Evan a month ago, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Queensland, especially the families of the victims and with all the people of Australia.”
PM Bainimarama also reaffirmed his gratitude to the Australian government for the relief efforts that were generously forthcoming for the victims of Tropical Cyclone Evan.
In addition, the Prime Minister expressed his sincere wishes to the Australian government that their efforts on bringing relief and comfort to their people will be met with complete success.
2 FIJI MISSION IN CANBERRA ON STANDBY FOR FIJI NATIONALS
Fiji nationals living in Queensland, Australia have been requested to contact the Fiji High Commission in Canberra should they require consular services following adverse flooding and severe post-cyclone weather.
The High Commission’s acting head of mission Cheryl Brown – Irava said staff at the High Commission in Canberra are ready to assist former Fiji residents or any Fiji nationals residing in the northern State of Queensland should they need consular assistance.
“There is a sizeable Fiji community in Ipswich and we are in touch with contacts there for any assistance they may require,” she said.
“The Fiji High Commission has also contacted the State Emergency Services (SES) of Queensland advising of the Mission and Consulate General contact details should Fiji nationals in affected areas require consular assistance.”
“The High Commission will continue to monitor the flood situation in Brisbane and other regions in QLD and keep in contact with community groups,” Ms Brown – Irava said.
3 $20MILLION TOP UP FROM SUGAR SECTOR
Government’ efforts to modernise the sugar industry will bring in an extra $20million into the economy this year.
Through the investment in equipment to assist farmers cultivate and harvest their cane, practical steps are being taken to restore Fiji’s sugar industry to prosperity.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said costs would be reduced and an increase in efficiency and sugar production were assured.
“The industry needs to be sustainable, well managed and properly equipped,” he said.
The good news for a sector vitally important for Fiji, and the well being of all its citizens was disclosed following a board meeting by the Ministry of Sugar and its stakeholders.
Commodore Bainimarama said Government was determined to modernize the sugar industry so that it becomes viable and sustainable.
Sugar farmers must play their part in these vital reforms. That is why a cane quality payment system was introduced this year, with an allocation of $4.4m.
Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Manasa Vaniqi, said in view of the restructure put in place by Government in the last two years the cane payment to farmers had been significantly higher compared to the recent past.
“We have managed to make a turnaround for the industry in two years when the Deloitte Report was predicting that it would take more than seven years for the industry to resurrect itself,” he said.
Mr Vaniqi said the industry’s dependence on Government through budgetary allocation, injecting funds to help it survive, was slowly being phased out. This is reflected through the declining allocation, which will eventually lead to the industry standing on its own two feet. He added predictions had placed the recovery figure to be more than $170m but Government had helped the industry recover with only $142m.
Sugar Cane Growers Council chief executive Sundresh Chetty said all industry stakeholders supported this initiative to move to mechanisation.
“It is high time Fiji joined other sugar producing countries in the move towards mechanization,” Mr Chetty said.
“It will ease the problem of labour and cane shortage in mills during the harvesting season.”
GOVERNMENT has also allocated $600,000 for the acquiring of cultivators, ploughs and other farming implements for 2013.
Director Sugar, Viliame Gucake said the concept of an equipment pool included the purchasing of tractors, trucks and mechanical harvesters in preparation for the harvesting season.
“One of the challenges faced during the last two seasons was that iTaukei farmers did not cut cane on Sunday and also Indian farmers did not cut cane during the soccer season,” Mr Gucake said.
“It affects the supply of cane to the mill so this decision to come up with the strategy of an equipment pool was taken.”
“The pool notion includes the training of cane cutters because growers previously hired cutters from the maritime islands.”
The director also confirmed that a team recently visited Queensland to see how the equipment pool was utilized by farmers there.
In addition, the equipment pool strategy is part of the sugar industry’s Strategic Action Plan 2013-2022 which has been broken down to a five- year focus beginning this year until 2017.
4 MINISTRY TO FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT
The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources will be implementing stronger measures to ensure that land development in the country does not damage the environment.
The Ministry’s acting permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa said that the Ministry will prioritise several critical areas in which they can improve on, particularly as a facilitator for economic development.
“We will strengthen our monitoring mechanism to ensure land development processes are adhered to before issuing any development lease or before any land development takes place”, Mr Boseiwaqa said.
Outlining his Ministry’s targeted outputs for year, Mr Boseiwaqa pointed out that bureaucracy has been a cause in delays in their services.
“In view of this, with the Ministry’s new vision in mind, Our Lands and Minerals; Smart Management for Growth, we are going to lay a platform to achieve this by tapping all available opportunities within our reach; through staff capacity building, pursing relevant government reforms and policy initiatives, keeping up with modern technologies, promoting a corporate culture and divisional empowerment through delegation of authority and staff strengthening”, Mr. Boseiwaqa said.