- ACTING PRESIDENT ISSUES WRIT OF ELECTIONS – The Acting President Chief Justice Anthony Gates has today issued the Writ of Election; which calls for the holding of the Fijian election in September, 2014.
- NEW CENTRE TO STIMULATE EMPLOYMENT FOR DISABLED PERSONS – A new centre opened today by Government will provide employment opportunities for disabled Fijians, especially those living in Suva.
- WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION REFORM BRINGS RELIEF FOR FAMILIES – The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment is set to reduce the turnaround time in compensation payment for injuries or fatalities caused at the workplace.
- SUMMIT TO STRENGTHEN MECHANISMS FOR PROTECTION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN – The Women’s and Children’s summit organised by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation will begin this week on the 6th to 8th of August at Studios 6 in Suva.
- WESTERN DIVISION PREPARES FOR DRY SPELL – The Commissioner Western’s Office is taking a proactive approach in dealing with dry weather conditions in the division especially those in nearby islands.
- PSC ADVISES ON CIVIL SERVICE CONDUCT FOR 2014 ELECTION – The Public Service Commission has advised civil servants on their involvement and conduct leading up to the September 17th National Elections, the Election Day and the immediate post-election period.
1 ACTING PRESIDENT ISSUES WRIT OF ELECTIONS
The Acting President Chief Justice Anthony Gates has today issued the Writ of Election; which calls for the holding of the Fijian election in September, 2014.
Justice Gates said the Fijian Elections Office must also receive the nominations of candidates for election at Fijian Elections office by 12 noon on the 18th of August 2014.
The Electoral Commission Chairman, Mr Chen Bunn Young said the nomination period for the receipt of nomination of candidates for the General Election shall be from 8am on the 5th of August to 12pm on the 18th of August.
Mr Young added the draw of candidates’ numbers will be on 24th of August and deadline for postal voting is on 27th of August.
“The next phase for the Elections office on voter education is allocation of seats and counting which had already begun. The Elections Office have met with Divisional Officers, taxi operators and bus operators in regards to transportation of people especially in rural areas to polling venues,” Young said.
2 NEW CENTRE TO STIMULATE EMPLOYMENT FOR DISABLED PERSONS
A new centre opened today by Government will provide employment opportunities for disabled Fijians, especially those living in Suva.
The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni today opened the “Ability Shine Production Centre” in Suva. Designed to empower disabled persons, the centre produces sanitary napkins for women and is collaboration between the Fijian Government, the Indian Government through its High Commission in Fiji and the Fiji National Council for Persons Living with Disabilities (FNCDP).
While opening the centre, the Minister said the journey started in 2012 from Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India, during the training of Fiji’s first solar engineers. Since then, some of the women that participated at the course in Rajasthan have contributed to their various communities. Some of these women will also work at the newly opened centre.
“The sanitary napkins provides a solution to women at an affordable cost and are quality controlled which comply with the health requirements instituted by the Ministry of Health,” Dr Luveni said.
“The centre packs and labels the products in house and can produce 300 sanitary pads a week so that women have access to affordable and locally made sanitary pads.”
“Such commodity promotes better menstrual hygiene and contribute to better maternal morbidity,” Dr Luveni added.
FNCDP Executive Director, Dr Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa said this launch is a “ray of light at the end of the tunnel for the women living in the rural areas and those living with disabilities”.
– ENDS –
3 WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION REFORM BRINGS RELIEF FOR FAMILIES
The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment is set to reduce the turnaround time in compensation payment for injuries or fatalities caused at the workplace.
The line Minister, Mr Jone Usamate, while handing over a compensation cheque of $130,000 to Yogendra Sami, 22, who was injured while at work, said this reform will be two-fold.
“The last major reform under the Labour Ministry is the Workmen’s Compensation where firstly we want to increase the amount of payout that has been far too low for a long time as well as the time for the payment to be made,” he said.
Mr Usamate said this will help the families continue with their livelihood such as meeting their daily needs.
He added that reform will introduce a “no fault system” whereby there will always be a pool of money available so that in case of an injury, the pay-out can be done within a short timeline.
For young Yogendra who is paralysed from the lower half of his body, the $130,000 will go a long way towards his hopes of recovery.
“I want to get better, while I have been told my chances of leading a normal life is not very high, I have not lost hope,” he said.
Yogendra was working for a lighting company in 2012 when the accident occurred whereby while putting up a banner from an elevated position, a freak accident led to a rope hitting the electric wires on the power pole.
“The impact was such that I got thrown off from a height and hit the ground hard. I damaged my spinal cord and that on top of being electrocuted made my case very complicated,” he said.
However, he has not lost hope and besides the weekly physiotherapy he undergoes, the Nadi resident will use the compensation money for further medical treatment in India.
“I want to look after my parents as they are growing old. Instead at the moment they are looking after me, it was my bad luck but I am not going to spend all my life in a wheelchair,” he said.
His mother, Saraswati Sami said they had many difficulties in life but were happy to see their son’s determination to get better.
4 SUMMIT TO STRENGTHEN MECHANISMS FOR PROTECTION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
The Women’s and Children’s summit organised by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation will begin this week on the 6th to 8th of August at Studios 6 in Suva.
The summit is first event designed to bring together 182 advocates of violence free champions in Fiji to strengthen network and mechanisms for protection of women and children.
The theme for the three days summit is “Towards a future free from Violence, Abuse & Exploitation of Women and Children,” it will look at developing an action plan as the way forward in strengthening the roles of the violence free advocates. The participants comprise of the gatekeepers of the communities of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign and also the Community Facilitators for child protection community programs.
The campaign is collaboratively implemented by the Ministry and Fiji Police. To date total of 90 communities in Fiji have joined this campaign and have formed a gatekeepers committee that is led by the male leaders (village heads, church leaders, women and youth leaders, police officers, women officers, social welfare officers, medical officers to name a few). These committees are specifically trained and entrusted by their communities to protect the women and children and to stop violence.
The Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says this summit will be informative and interactive enabling the advocates to draw up a holistic development plan to strengthen their roles.
“The summit will provide opportunities for the gatekeepers and community facilitators to get as much information on the existing legislations and its application on gender based violence and child abuse cases. It will also assist them enhance the role towards creating a safer community for all and to develop a work plan for championing elimination of violence, abuse and exploitation of women and children. It will also enable the advocates to establish a wider community network of gatekeepers and community facilitators in Fiji.
“This would be the first time for the gatekeepers to come together identify the gaps and strategies to strengthen the violence free campaign. They will be able to reflect on the challenges they face and ways it can be addressed by sharing ideas and to effectively carry out their roles as champions of violence free communities,” Dr Luveni explained.
The summit will feature notable thematic speakers on the following human rights instruments:
(1) The Roadmap for Democracy, Sustainable Socio-Economic Development [RDSSED] (2011 to 2015)
(2) The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women [CEDAW] – ratified by Fiji in 1995; and the
(3) Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC]
5 WESTERN DIVISION PREPARES FOR DRYSPELL
The Commissioner Western’s Office is taking a proactive approach in dealing with dry weather conditions in the division especially those in nearby islands.
District officer Jioji Waqavonovono said more than 310,000 liters of water was carted to the Mamanuca Group, Yasawa Group and Vatulele Island at the end of last week to cater for about 3000 Fijians in the islands.
Mr Waqavonovono said that 110,000 liters of water was transported by a barge to the Mamanuca Group for Solevu Health Center, Malolo Island and schools in the group while another 100,000 litres was transported to Naviti in Yasawa.
“The water transported to the health centres and schools should last for about a month as water should be conserved as much as possible. It should not be put to waste and we urge the affected people to use water wisely,” Mr Waqavonovono said.
He highlighted that according to the Nadi Weather Office, there was below average rainfall recorded for the months of June and July.
“We did not record much rainfall for the month of July as well and we are predicting that it will be the same for August and September.
“This is where the red alert comes in because of the prolonged dry season. As a result of this, most of the wells and the water supplies through roof catchments and boreholes that were dug on the islands, have dried up,” Mr Waqavonovono added.
The Office of the Commissioner Western is also preparing for water cuts in the division and is calling on people to use water wisely.
“We are trying to get people to use water sparingly as much as possible now. We are also closely monitoring reports from the Nadi Weather Office,” Mr Waqavonovono said.
6 PSC ADVISES ON CIVIL SERVICE CONDUCT FOR 2014 ELECTION
The Public Service Commission has advised civil servants on their involvement and conduct leading up to the September 17thNational Elections, the Election Day and the immediate post-election period.
Permanent Secretary for the Public Service, Mr Parmesh Chand, said that the behavior of civil servants which is guided by the General Orders and the PSC Code of Conduct under the PSC Act of 1999, explicitly demands the political neutrality and impartiality of the Civil Service.
In a Circular dated August 1st that was distributed to all Ministries and Departments, the Public Service Commission also reminded government workers on the guidelines for political party membership and candidacy for elections.
Civil servants and government wage earners are reminded not to indulge in active political activities and must refrain completely from making public comments. PSC has reminded all civil servants that is a disciplinary offence for a civil servant to take part in political activities other than in the exercise of his/her normal duties.
The Public Service Values under Section 4 (7) of the Public Service Act 1999 guides the conduct of civil servants and reads: “The public service is apolitical, performing its functions in a neutral, impartial and professional way.”
Furthermore, it is stipulated under the General Orders 309 that “no officer or employee shall, without the express permission of the Public Service Commission and Permanent Secretary, whether on duty or leave of absences:
- Act as the editor of any newspaper, magazine or periodical or take part directly or indirectly in the management thereof;
- Contribute to, whether anonymously or otherwise, or publish in any newspaper, magazine or periodical or cause to be published in any manner, anything which may reasonably be regarded as of a political or administrative nature;
- Speak in public or broadcast on any matter, which may reasonably be regarded as of a political or administrative nature;
- Allow himself (herself) to be interview or express any opinion for publication on any issue of an administrative or political nature or on matters affecting the administration, defence or military resource of Fiji
While civil servants may be members of a political party, they may attend, vote and speak at only privately held meetings. This allows them to gauge information that would help them to make informed decisions. They can vote freely in the National Elections.
Civil servants are reminded not to attempt to publicly further the activities or aspirations of a political party, or an election candidate.
Civil servants who consider themselves as prospective candidates for election should not issue any statement, nor in any way publicly announce themselves as candidates or prospective candidates before informing the Public Service Commission or Permanent Secretary of their intention. Civil servants who have made public this intention, must immediately tender their resignation or retirement from the Service.
Civil servants are also reminded that public funds must not be used to meet the expenses of any political activity including claims for mileage or subsistence allowance. Political pamphlets and posters must not be distributed or displayed in government offices, buildings and quarters.
Mr Chand said that these guidelines are in place to ensure the political neutrality of the Public Service.
“These guidelines safeguard the interests of the Fijian people. All civil servants and public officers, regardless of the outcome of the Elections, now ensure that they will continue to work for the benefit of the everyday members of the public that they are called to serve without political interest impeding the process.”