1. NEW RESIDENT MAGISTRATE SWORN IN – The new resident magistrate, Thennakoon Mudiyanselage Nilan Thushara Thennakoon was sworn in by Chief Justice Anthony Gates at the Judge’s common room, Government Buildings today.
2. BUA CHIEFS TO UNDERGO COMMERCIAL TRAINING – A training program designed to empower financial management and business entrepreneurship is being organised for chiefs in the province of Bua.
3. RICE INDUSTRY REVITALIZATION IN THE NORTHERN DIVISION – Revitalising Fiji’s rice industry in the Northern Division will be a key objective behind regular meetings to now be held between Government and the Rewa Rice Company in Dreketi.
4. $30MILLION FOR CWM HOSPITAL FACELIFT – Close to $30million has been injected into efforts to improve facilities at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) in Suva. This is part of Government’s plan to upgrade infrastructure and enhance human resources.
5. HEALTH MINISTRY ENCOURAGES HIV TESTS – Members of the public have been reminded on the importance of getting tested for HIV if at risk. This assists clinics to do a better follow up of patients and ensure they are on HIV treatment.
6. MAKE WISE USE OF SKILLS: NAUPOTO – Youth of Delainavesi in Lami have been encouraged to make good use of the skills learnt from the Seeds of Success (SOS) and multi skills training to make a difference in their lives.
7. POSITIVE SIGNS FOR SUSTAINABLE RENEWABLE ENERGY – Fiji is in a transition from heavy reliance on fossil fuel-based energy to a sustainable renewable energy future.
1. NEW RESIDENT MAGISTRATE SWORN IN
The new resident magistrate, Thennakoon Mudiyanselage Nilan Thushara Thennakoon was sworn in by Chief Justice Anthony Gates at the Judge’s common room, Government Buildings today.
Mr Thennakoon was called to the Bar of Sri-Lanka as an Attorney-at-Law in December, 2002.
From 2003 to 2005 he held the position of Tutor at Sri Lanka Law College.
Mr Thennakoon held the position as Senior Assistant Legal Officer at Sampath Bank from September 2004 to November 2010.
Before taking up the position as resident magistrate here, Mr Thennakoon was the Nations Trust Bank consumer litigation manager from December, 2010.
Mr Thennakoon, 41, is a Sri Lankan national and comes with vast experience in the legal fraternity.
2. BUA CHIEFS TO UNDERGO COMMERCIAL TRAINING
A training program designed to empower financial management and business entrepreneurship is being organised for chiefs in the province of Bua.
Organised under the banner of the Northern Development Programme (NDP), the training will be facilitated through Government’s Northern Division office.
The Programme’s manager, Waisale Tuidama said recent commercial activities taking place in the province is prompting them to engage chiefs to better understand the nature of these activities and to be more commercially involved.
“We are looking at Bua first, because it has more of a traditional life style and they have resources around them,” Mr Tuidama said.
Mr Tuidama said the training would also see the participation of relevant agencies such as the i-Taukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB), the Agriculture Department and Investment Fiji.
“We are expected to hold this two day training with close 30 chiefs of the Bua Province in the first week of April.”
Once complete, this training is expected to be carried out in both the Macuata and the Cakaudrove Province.
3. RICE INDUSTRY REVITALIZATION IN THE NORTHERN DIVISION
Revitalising Fiji’s rice industry in the Northern Division will be a key objective behind regular meetings to be held between Government and the Rewa Rice Company in Dreketi.
Government, through the Office of the Commissioner Northern, will now meet with the rice company in the North on a monthly basis as part of efforts to boost production.
Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu said with a new rice mill expected to open soon in Dreketi, the focus now is to ensure consistent production.
“There were some constraints that were highlighted by the past task force and this included the budget allocated by the government, land preparations, machineries and harvesting,” Mr Bolalevu said.
“We have to contribute positively and be able to revitalize the rice production and also improve the mill production.”
He added that the new mill is expected to also secure employment for those living in nearby communities.
Rewa Rice Mill manager, Ashrit Pratap said the biggest constraint the mill had was the age of the mill and its frequent breakdown.
Mr Pratap said that the new mill should be up and running by the end of July.
“We are pleased that Government has allocated funding for the mills. We will ensure that we produce the best quality rice for market as well as local.”
4. $30MILLION FOR CWM HOSPITAL FACELIFT
Close to $30million has been injected into efforts to improve facilities at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) in Suva.
This is part of Government’s plan to upgrade infrastructure and enhance human resources.
Health Minister, Dr Neil Sharma said the East Wing (CWM) was undergoing some modifications with plans to include 200 beds at the maternity units, delivery suites and operating theatres that would be commissioned this year.
“Our focus is nationwide with nursing stations, health centres, sub -divisional hospitals receiving facelift,” Dr Sharma said.
He said the ministry had plans to reduce wastage and practice better procurement methods in the pharmaceutical areas.
“This is a complex issue with the global market changing, population movement in country, transportation in/out of countries and changing patterns of prescribing,” Dr Sharma said.
“Our efficiency levels are more robust, wastage markedly reduced and better procurement, storage and distribution are in place.”
The minister is confident that government investment in infrastructure will allow the ministry to focus on improving human skills, customer focus and ownership of new services and technology.
5. HEALTH MINISTRY ENCOURAGES HIV TESTS
Members of the public have been reminded on the importance of getting tested for HIV if at risk.
This assists clinics to do a better follow up of patients and ensure they are on HIV treatment. Early detection of positive cases has reduced the number of patients suffering from any other related infections and even death.
It allows HIV/AIDS positive persons the opportunity to utilise the available Antiretroviral drug that contributes toward improving quality of life and prevents mother to child transmission of HIV for pregnant women. With HIV treatment being available for pregnant mothers it is possible for children to be born negative.
Sixty-four new HIV positive cases were recorded last year, where approximately 31 per cent of the patients were between the age group of 20-year-old to 29-year-old and 77 per cent of the patients fell within the 20-year-old to 39-year-old category.
Since 1989, a total of 546 HIV positive cases were recorded in Fiji. The main mode of transmission is heterosexual spread followed by perinatal and homosexual spread at 5 per cent each with a transmission among bisexuals at 1 per cent.
The ministry has seen an increase in the number of tests and outreach programme, which has contributed towards to an increase in the detection of cases.
Members of the public are reminded to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This can be done by abstaining, engaging in safer sexual practices, having one sexual partner (being faithful) and refraining from sharing needles.
The 2011 HIV/AIDS Amendment Decree protects the affected and infected HIV persons in Fiji.
The HIV/AIDS Board, through the ministry, continues to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and encourages members of the public to contact their nearest health facilities for more information or visit the HIV/STI clinics based in the three main divisions of Fiji.
6. MAKE WISE USE OF SKILLS: NAUPOTO
Youth of Delainavesi in Lami have been encouraged to make good use of the skills learnt from the Seeds of Success (SOS) and multi skills training to make a difference in their lives.
While speaking to 41 participants during the closing of the week-long workshop in Lami, Minister for Youth and Sports, Viliame Naupoto urged them to use their energy and creativity wisely before it disappears with old age.
“Youth must always think of doing constructive things so we can make our society better. It is important for youth to make the right choice now because this will push you towards productivity,” Mr Naupoto said.
He highlighted that empowerment of Fijian youth through skills development and income generating opportunities is a priority for his ministry this year.
Delaibua Youth Club member, Marika Kelivou said the craft and jewellery making skills training was a blessing for him.
“I was fortunate to be part of this training because I only had computer skills and needed to broaden my knowledge,” Mr Kelivou said.
“It is not necessary to start big, but to take one step at a time and make the right choices in life. Learning about these skills really made me proud.”
Mr Kelivou, who could not complete tertiary education because of financial difficulties, expressed gratitude to the Fijian Government for implementing youth-friendly initiatives.
“Facing challenges in life will not deter me from achieving my dream of starting up a small craft and jewellery making business. I want to attain a qualification in computer studies and build a career out of it,” Mr Kelivou said.
Senior Youth Officer (Central), Shamim Mohammed said their work was in line with government’s efforts to capture and develop the full potential of young people.
“We need to constantly motivate youths so they become proactive and productive citizens in Fiji’s socio-economic development process,” Ms Mohammed said.
During the SOS and multi skills training last week, 16 participants acquired basic hairdressing skills, screen printing, sewing as well as craft and jewelry making while 25 others concentrated on agriculture-based ‘Feed Fiji’ programme at Delainavesi.
7. POSITIVE SIGNS FOR SUSTAINABLE RENEWABLE ENERGY
Fiji is in a transition from heavy reliance on fossil fuel-based energy to a sustainable renewable energy future.
Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities deputy secretary, Malakai Tadulala said Government was formulating policies and frameworks to reduce the reliance on fossil fuel imports used by the transport and energy sector.
“The Government is developing a green growth framework and part of that framework is to actually promote technologies that will produce energy,” he said.
“Our small island economy always had the issue of the high fuel bill, which drained a lot of foreign exchange. This is $1.2billion used for fossil fuel imports.
“The Government is expressing concerns on high fuel bills and finding solutions for the country, which is affecting foreign reserves and balance of payments linked to the economic growth,” Mr Tadulala said.
In the energy sector, the right framework to reduce the import bill will need to integrate improvements to electricity generation taking into consideration the issues on climate change.
Because the hydro schemes in Nadarivatu and Monasavu depends on the weather, Mr Tadulala said the extreme cases of droughts would see Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) improvising with diesel generators which burned more imported fuel.
On the other hand, Fiji’s rural electrification programme, which started in 1974, has over 600 villages installed with diesel generators.
Mr Tadulala outlined the problems faced by the rural communities with diesel generators.
“Apart from the high fuel costs and irregular shipping services, the reliance on diesel generators has become a source of poverty to communities,” the deputy secretary said.
Therefore, this renewable initiative will see the focus moving from diesel generators to solar systems and other energy projects as power supply for urban and rural areas.
A Renewable Readiness Assessment (RRA) for Fiji in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is underway through the first consultative workshop and is a way forward to address the issue of energy security and sustainable transport.