MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 4:30PM 16/08/13

1.?FIJI EXTENDS WELL WISHES FOR INDIA?S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS -?Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has sent Fiji?s well wishes to the people of India who celebrated their 67th Independence Day anniversary this week.

2.?GOVERNMENT RECIEVES $3.65M DIVIDEND FROM FPCL -?The Fiji Ports Corporation Limited (FPCL) today handed over a dividend cheque of $3.65million to the Attorney-General and Minister for Public Enterprise, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the FPCL headquarters.

 

3.?MINISTRY CLARIFIES BACKDATED PAYMENTS FOR SOCIAL PENSION BENEFICIARIES?-?The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has advised all recipients of government?s Social Pension Scheme (SPS) that normal payments under this scheme would remain at $30 per month.

 

4.?OHS INSPECTORS ENSURE PUBLIC SAFETY ON AMUSEMENT RIDES DURING HIBISCUS FESTIVAL:?17TH TO 24TH AUGUST?2O13 -?Government ?through the Ministry of Labour have inspected all amusement rides at the Hibiscus Festival this year to ensure safety conditions before use by members of the public.

5.?LABOUR MINISTER WARNS ROAD TRANSPORT OPERATORS -?Government has warned employers in the road transport industry to follow the Wages Regulation (Road Transport) Order which came in to effect on 31st of October, 2012.

6.?NEW LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ADMITTED TO THE BAR -?Twenty six (26) barristers and solicitors were this morning sworn in at the Supreme Court by?Chief Justice, Anthony Gates.

1.?FIJI EXTENDS WELL WISHES FOR INDIA?S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has sent Fiji?s well wishes to the people of India who celebrated their 67th Independence Day anniversary this week.

In a note to his Indian counterpart, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister Bainimarama said he was confident that the true spirit of friendship and cooperation that ?provides the unbreakable bond between the two nations and its people will be further strengthened in the years ahead?.

?The strong framework of democracy set by your founding fathers, the people of India have built a nation that is strong and proud,? PM Bainimarama said.

?Fiji attributes great value to the bi-lateral relations that exists between the two nations and is appreciative of the many forms of assistance that we have received from the Government of India and the goodwill that your country has shown toward us,? the head of Fijian Government added.

PM Bainimarama said the people of Fiji sent their best wishes for the continued well being and happiness of the Indian people the world over.

India gained independence in 1947 from Great British after a long struggle for freedom.

Fiji and India established diplomatic ties right after Fiji gained independence in 1970 and the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) is famously known to have been established in Fiji before it was opened anywhere else in the world.

It is through the ICC that 25 Fijian students are annually chosen to study in India through an Indian Government scholarship besides other technical assistance from the Asian nation.

-ENDS-
2.?GOVERNMENT RECIEVES $3.65M DIVIDEND FROM FPCL

The Fiji Ports Corporation Limited (FPCL) today handed over a dividend cheque of $3.65million to the Attorney-General and Minister for Public Enterprise, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the FPCL headquarters.

FPCL board chairman, Mr Tevita Kuruvakadua said the dividend is 50 per cent net profit after tax for the 2012 financial year.

?FPCL?s consolidation consisting of Fiji Ports, Fiji Ships and Ports Terminal Limited has improved its performance. FPCL?s net profit for the financial ?year ending 2012 was $7.31 million out of which $3.65 million was presented to Government,? Mr Kuruvakadua said.

The achievements for this year is 30 per cent above what we achieved last year,? he added.

Mr Kuruvakadua highlighted that in line with Government?s plans, FPCL will continue to pursue ports reforms in the financial years ahead.

?The 30 per cent ?increase reflects the potential that the company has in terms of operations and in line with public- private partnership policy. The board is quite confident that it will do better in years to come,? Mr Kuruvakadua said.

Mr Kuruvakadua added that in terms of corporate plans, the FPCL has undertaken infrastructural development in the last financial year such as ?building commercial sheds at the Lautoka port and at Muaiwalu in Suva.

?The board as part of its future plans, is also looking at staff and ?customer services such as improving technology ?and plans for extension of existing ports facilities,? he said.

-ENDS-

 

3.?MINISTRY CLARIFIES BACKDATED PAYMENTS FOR SOCIAL PENSION BENEFICIARIES

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has advised all recipients of government?s Social Pension Scheme (SPS) that normal payments under this scheme would remain at $30 per month.

The clarification comes from the Ministry?s permanent secretary Mr Josefa Koroivueta after recipients whose applications were approved after the first quarter received backdated payments.

?The normal payment for those eligible under Social Pension Scheme is $30 per month, however there were 2500 recipients whose payments have to be backdated to the month of January, thus they have received an amount more than $30 as it is a backdated payment,? Dr Koroivueta said.

?The beneficiaries are advised that the monthly payment for Social Pension Scheme remains $30 per month.?

Dr Koroivueta added that senior citizens who are 70 years and above can apply provided that they are not recipients of superannuation like Fiji National Provident Fund, government pension and after care fund and are not receiving social welfare assistance through Poverty Benefit Scheme or Care and Protection Program.

?A total of 6654 senior citizens who are 70 years and above in age are currently benefiting from $30 monthly Social Pension Scheme,? Dr Koroivueta added.

He said applications forms for the scheme are available in the divisional and district welfare offices.

?People can apply by filling in this form, and ensuring that it is certified by civil servant or community leader and submit with two passport photos,? Dr Koroivueta said.

He said the senior citizens in the maritime areas namely Kadavu, Lau, Lomaiviti, Rotuma have also been assisted with the $30 monthly Social Pension Scheme.

?This is primarily done to ensure that there is even distribution of the Social Pension Scheme amongst the senior citizens in urban and those in the rural and maritime areas. A total of 177 senior citizens have been assisted in the maritime areas.?

The SPS has a budgetary allocation of $3.24 million for 2013.

The recipients of social welfare assistance such as the Care & Protection Allowance and Poverty Benefit Scheme (PBS) will NOT be eligible for this assistance.

-ENDS-

 

4.?OHS INSPECTORS ENSURE PUBLIC SAFETY ON AMUSEMENT RIDES DURING HIBISCUS FESTIVAL:?17TH TO 24TH AUGUST2O13

Government ?through the Ministry of Labour have inspected all amusement rides at the Hibiscus Festival this year to ensure safety conditions before use by members of the public.

Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Mr Jone Usamate said that OHS inspectors from the Ministry have been at the festival grounds with the objective of safe and incident free festival where everyone can enjoy themselves.

Mr Usamate said prior to installation of the rides, owners of amusement rides and their operators went through a one and half hour OHS awareness session to fully understand their obligations under OHS legislations to warrant a safe and incident free festival.

He added that owners of the rides have been specifically advised to carefully monitor their operators to ensure that they follow the safe operation procedures.

?A total of 29 Amusement Rides have been inspected and passed for safety this week by the OHS Inspectors,? Mr Usamate said.

?OHS Inspectors have been rostered to undertake daily safety monitoring of the rides during the week-long festival and the operators will be closely monitored during this period,? he added.

He said that inspectors will not tolerate any unsafe behavior and will issue on the-spot penalty fines to those operators and owners that are found to be in breach of the OHS legislations.

The Minister appealed to the public that whilst the owners and the operators have the obligations to ensure that the rides are operated safely, it is equally important that the public exercise due care and not to abuse the rides as there are safety instructions to be followed.

Mr Usamate said that the objective of this OHS exercise is to ensure that we have a safe and incident free Hibiscus Festival 20L3, where everyone can enjoy themselves with their friends, families and loved ones, freely celebrating the spirit of Hibiscus.

-ENDS-

5.?LABOUR MINISTER WARNS ROAD TRANSPORT OPERATORS

Government has warned employers in the road transport industry to follow the Wages Regulation (Road Transport) Order which came in to effect on 31st of October, 2012.

Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Mr Jone Usamate has further urged employers to pay workers employed in the road transport sector a minimum rate of remuneration.

For example, heavy PSV Drivers in bus industry are to be paid $3.16 an hour while light PSV Drivers are paid $2.67 an hour.

The heavy goods drivers are paid $3.23 an hour while mechanic and repair man in bus and taxi industry are paid $3.27 an hour.

Mr Jone Usamate has also reminded transport industry employers to ensure workers follow the required work hours of eight hours per day for six days.

He added that normal hours work must not be worked out for more than two shifts.

In terms of overtime, the Minister highlights that all transport operators must pay in excess of eight hours work for the first four hours, time and half time workers hourly rate of pay and thereafter twice the workers normal rate of pay.

For all work on public holidays, the workers must receive twice the workers normal rate of pay.

Mr Usamate added that workers are required to get $7.00 as meal claim or a decent hot meal after two hours of overtime in a normal working day.

Workers are entitled to get paid 10 days annual leave and 10 days sick leave with three days bereavement leave.

The Ministry of Labour has recovered a total of $84,238.43 and paid to workers from the road transport industry in terms of their arrears of wages and entitlement dues through complaints lodged to the ministry by workers and through conducting labour inspection by Labour officers.

In light of this, Mr Usamate has also warned employers to strictly followed the terms and conditions ?set out in the Wages Regulations Order and in the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) 2007.

-ENDS-

6.?NEW LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ADMITTED TO THE BAR

Twenty six (26) barristers and solicitors were this morning sworn in at the Supreme Court by?Chief Justice, Anthony Gates.

Justice Gates urged the legal practitioners to be courteous to court, counsel, litigants and witnesses at all times because their conduct at the Bar would also be a reflection on their universities.

?If you strive hard for high standards, people will take note and think highly of your tertiary institution,? Justice Gates said.

?You have each taken an oath or affirmation that you will truly and honestly conduct yourself in the practice as a legal practitioner according to the best of your knowledge and ability.?

Justice Gates also called on the legal practitioners to be fully conversant with works of the profession in their first years at the Bar.

?Having said that, you will find much fulfilment and gain much understanding of the world and human nature if you read widely. You should of course, read about the law. In the next few years you will be very busy learning about the practicalities. But you should also try to read books on general topics as well,? Justice Gates said.

For 24 year old solicitor, Anjinish Reddy of Tavua, today?s ceremony marked years of hard work and dedication to her studies.

?The fact that we have come this far is a big achievement for any lawyer. Being admitted to the Bar is definitely the biggest day of a lawyer?s life. Currently, I am working for a law firm and my plans are to continue there.?

Ms Reddy also had a short, yet profound message for aspiring lawyers of Fiji.

?The only way to achieving your goals is through hard work. There is no shortcut.?

-ENDS-