1. BRAZIL DELEGATION IN FIJI TO IDENTIFY AREAS OF COOPERATION – A delegation representing the Brazilian agency responsible for establishing and strengthening cooperation is in the country to look at possible investment and trade opportunities.
2. MORE FIJIANS INTO MICRO ENTERPRISES – A growing number of Fijians are now engaged in Micro Business enterprises as a form of employment and source of revenue.
3. TEACHERS UNDERGO BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS – The Ministry of Education recently completed a workshop designed to empower teachers with Basic Counselling Skills to assist them in their profession.
4. GOVERNMENT WELFARE ASSISTANCE STRENGTHENS ANTI-DISCRIMINATORY PROCESS – Government is putting in place processes to avoid any discrimination in the allocation of welfare assistance to applicants.
1 BRAZIL DELEGATION IN FIJI TO IDENTIFY AREAS OF COOPERATION
A delegation representing the Brazilian agency responsible for establishing and strengthening cooperation is in the country to look at possible investment and trade opportunities.
This morning Fiji’s Ambassador to Brazil, Ambassador Cama Tuiloma this morning received the Director of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), Ambassador Fernando Jose Marroni de Abreu, in Nadi.
Ambassador Abreu is heading a Technical Team on a fact finding mission to look specifically at Fiji’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. The Brazil officials will also meet with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests Mr Inia Seruiratu. They are also expected to meet with the Public Service Commission permanent secretary Mr Parmesh Chand to identify training opportunities and capacity building opportunities between the two countries.
In welcoming the technical mission, Ambassador Tuiloma expressed the Fijian Government’s appreciation for the growing relations between the two countries. Brazil’s position as a growing global agribusiness powerhouse is poised to be an advantage to Fiji particularly in the areas of training, information sharing and expertise exchange, technology transfer and institutional capacity building. As part of their program, the team had visited the Sigatoka Valley, Koronivia Research Station, Naduruloulou Fisheries Station, Galoa Hatchery Station and the Navua Dairy Farm to identify specific needs in respect of production in these areas.
Brazil and Fiji have also been negotiating a Technical Cooperation Agreement since 2011, which aims to promote technical cooperation in the areas identified by both countries. This is the first agreement that Fiji and Brazil are scheduled to sign later next week. Early this year, the Under Secretary-General of Political Affairs for Asia & Oceania at the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, Her Excellency Ambassador Maria Edileuza Fontenele Reis was in Fiji and reaffirmed Brazil’s commitment towards establishing or strengthening current relations with Fiji. Establishing a diplomatic mission for Brazil in Fiji was also proposed.
Whilst in Nadi, Ambassador Abreu also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
ABC is the agency affiliated with the Ministry of External Relations of the Brazilian Federative Government in charge of all international technical cooperation involving Brazil and other countries or international organizations. ABC’s mandate is to negotiate, coordinate, implement and monitor technical cooperation projects and programs that stem from umbrella agreements signed between Brazil and other countries and international organizations.
2 MORE FIJIANS INTO MICRO ENTERPRISES
A growing number of Fijians are now engaged in Micro Business enterprises as a form of employment and source of revenue.
The Microfinance Unit of the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) recorded Five Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Five (5,455) microenterprises established since 2008 to date.
The FCOSS Microfinance Unit manager Ms Lavenia Rabo said that a total of more than $3 m ($3,752,132.00) was lent during this period to clients.
Ms Baro said they started giving microfinance assistance to clients in the Central Division a few years back but expanded to the Eastern Division and Western Division from 2008 to 2012.
She said they have opened offices in Sigatoka to service the province of Nadroga and Navosa and also expanded their services to clients in Koro, Ovalau and Moturiki in the Lomaiviti province.
“In November 2012 we opened our service for the district of Nalawa in the province of Ra and we have our Point of Service based at Burenitu village,” Ms Baro said.
She said that due to this, they are now looking at the possibility of expanding services to the district of Tavua.
“We are currently working with our District Council of Social services in Tavua to establish an office in Tavua which will service the Tavua and Ba district, this should be up and running by October of this year,” Ms Baro said.
Ms Baro said their microenterprises clients have also been a source of employment to fellow unemployed Fijians.
“Usually the majority of these microenterprise owners employ between 2 to 8 people in their various micro enterprises,” Ms Baro said.
3 TEACHERS UNDERGO BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS
The Ministry of Education recently completed a workshop designed to empower teachers with Basic Counselling Skills to assist them in their profession.
Held at the Civil Service Training centre in Nadave, the workshop saw the participation of 41 officials from across the country.
“This workshop has equipped you as teachers with counselling skills so you are able to deal with the diverse cases in both primary and secondary schools. It is timely, considering the fact that some of the issues and cases are quite sophisticated”, said the Ministry of Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal, who also delivered the closing statement at the meet.
“As teachers, you need to be well-informed with current issues, be widely read and appropriately equipped and skilled in tackling the everyday issues in schools. I believe that now, you will know the alternatives to the sticks, to the derogatory remarks, to the displeasing comments and the fearsome expressions and body language used to the students,” he commented.
Meanwhile eighty five teachers from the five disability inclusive schools completed a three day Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP) Inclusive Education Workshop at Novotel Conference Centre, Lami this week.
Dr Lal also closed this separate workshop and pointed out that teachers and teaching personnel at disabilities institutions need to be updated on ways to improve their work.
4 GOVERNMENT WELFARE ASSISTANCE STRENGTHENS ANTI-DISCRIMINATORY PROCESS
Government is putting in place processes to avoid any discrimination in the allocation of welfare assistance to applicants.
Through the Ministry of Social Welfare, government introduced the Poverty Benefit Scheme; a scheme that has now widened its scope of those eligible for welfare assistance but at the same time ensures that rigorous checks are made against applicants.
Head of the Ministry Dr Jiko Luveni said that Government will maintain an anti-discriminatory stance in the process of identifying applicants. She highlighted that in the past, Government officials had provided recommendations and endorsement of applications without any proper checks. This, the Minister highlighted is no longer being practiced to ensure accountability and transparency.
“The Poverty Benefit Scheme provides an objective and evidence based recommendation for the applications. In the previous system our welfare officers provided the recommendation and endorsement. This left room for biased and subjective decisions, however with new system it will provide recommendation based on evidence,” Dr Luveni said.
The Minister also pointed out that a questionnaire used in the identification process will capture various information that is based on (HIES) Household, Income and Expenditure Survey.
“The metrics used in this questionnaire are based on variables like property ownership (houses, land), assets and household items, deriving a threshold score at the end of the assessment that determines whether the family is really poor and should be assisted through Poverty Benefit Scheme. Currently, welfare officers are doing home assessments using the new questionnaire for the recertification process.”
The Poverty Benefit Scheme has an allocated budget of $22.6 million in the 2013 national budget. This is expected to assist 13,000 households with a maximum payment of $150 per month a maximum allowance of $150 per month (inclusive of the $30 food voucher) is provided to families and maximum of 4 members in a family can qualify for the assistance. Part of this amount consists of a $30 food voucher. Part of the Poverty Benefit Program includes the Welfare Graduation Scheme. When assistance is given to a family, the head of the family signs a contract to undergo skills training and take up income-generating and vocational-training opportunities provided by the Ministry.