1. KALABU STUDENTS WELCOMES OPENING OF NEW SCHOOL TELECENTRE – More than 150 students of Kalabu Secondary School and members of the community now have access to free internet.
2. ENERGY MINISTER URGES GREATER ATTENTION TO RENEWABLE ENERGY – Encouraging a greater commitment towards renewable energy was a key message delivered today by the Minister for Works, Transport and Public Utilities.
3. “PARENTS MAKE EDUCATION YOUR FIRST PRIORITY”: MINISTER BOLE – Parents in Taveuni have been reminded to enrol their children in schools following the introduction of the free education scheme.
4. NEW HATCHERY TO SUPPLEMENT INCOME FOR FARMERS – Aquaculture farmers of the western division have welcomed a new aquaculture hatchery that was recently opened in Naboni, Ra.
5. LABOUR MINISTRY CLAIMS OUTSTANDING WAGES FOR SEAMEN – The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment Mr. Jone Usamate this week presented an outstanding wages cheque payout of $2,640.00 to Mr. Adrea Are Toromae.
6. EDUCATION MINISTRY REMINDS TEACHERS OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT POLICY – The Ministry of Education is reminding schools across the country on its zero-tolerance policy on corporal punishment.
7. LABOUR MEDIATION INTERVENTION AVERTS POTENTIAL STRIKE – The timely intervention of the Labour Ministry’s Mediation Services averted a potential strike between Yatule Beach Resort and the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industry Employees.
8. MINISTRY REMINDS SCHOOLS ON GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO FREE EDUCATION – The Ministry of Education has reminded the Bouma District School in Taveuni that the free education scheme is a commitment by the Bainimarama government to development education in the country.
9. NEW STATE OF THE ART HEALTH EQUIPMENT TO BE UNVEILED – The Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma will commission capital purchases and renovation projects at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) tomorrow.
1 KALABU STUDENTS WELCOMES OPENING OF NEW SCHOOL TELECENTRE
More than 150 students of Kalabu Secondary School and members of the community now have access to free internet.
This follows the opening of the Kalabu Secondary telecentre by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama.
Commending the government initiative, school parent, Kinisimere Rakuita said that today’s opening of the telecentre is a huge relief for parents.
“For parents like me, that have daughters, every time our children go into town to access the internet it’s always a worry for us because sometimes they come late,” Mrs Rakuita said.
The mother of five added that now her daughter will not have to go all the way to Suva to use the internet for research purposes.
Similar sentiments were shared by Nasoqo settlement resident, Aporosa Tabuavakarua.
“I would like to thank government for this assistance as now our children will not have to pay for internet should they want to carry out research projects.
Kalabu Secondary School student, Ilisapeci Raibevu said that she will not have to go to Valelevu to access the internet and use printing services.
“This is a good initiative by government in bringing the services right here to our doorsteps,” Ms Raibevu said.
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama said that the people of the Nasinu Corridor, the most densely populated area of Fiji are being connected to the world.
“In the case of the Kalabu School, there hasn’t been a single personal computer in the entire school until now. And it’s a big reason for us all to celebrate,” PM Bainimarama said.
“This communications revolution goes hand in hand with my Government’s proudest achievement – the education revolution that is the biggest investment Fiji has ever made in the future of its young people.”
2 ENERGY MINISTER URGES GREATER ATTENTION TO RENEWABLE ENERGY
Encouraging a greater commitment towards renewable energy was a key message delivered today by the Minister for Works, Transport and Public Utilities.
Minister Timoci Lesi Natuva opened the “IRENA Consultation Workshops on Renewable Energy Readiness Assessment for Fiji” at the Novotel Convention Centre in Lami.
Organised by the Department of Energy and other key stakeholders, the meeting is an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss options and opportunities for greater integration of renewable energy into Fiji’s energy supplies.
Minister Natuva highlighted that Fiji’s National Energy Policy is the platform for modernising and developing the nation’s energy sector in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).
“The National Energy Policy sets out the government’s directions and smart choices about our nation’s future energy needs.
He urged the participants and stakeholders of the workshop to cooperate in discussing options and opportunities for the greater integration of renewable energy into our energy supplies.
“Fiji is currently in a transition to a sustainable energy future and as a small developing nation with heavy reliance on fossil based energy, we are confronted with many pressing issues, including challenges of adequate energy supplies, building a strong economy, and dealing with risk issues ranging from national energy security to global climate change”, the Minister told participants.
“Concerns about the ever escalating national fuel import bills and the financial pressures on our national economy together with the environmental externalities as a result of fossil fuel consumption, makes the energy debate as complex as ever.”
He also acknowledged the support towards the RRA from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the presence of IRENA delegation led by the Director Country Support and Partnership- Ms Gauri Singh.
Ms Gauri Singh said that the RRA is a whole host of activities that are built around putting the renewable energy knowledge and activities in the context of what the islands may need.
“It’s not just an assessment process but an entry point for IRENA to engage with the national government at a much more holistic level with the country structuring its priorities on what they want IRENA to do in the medium terms.
”In Fiji, what is very different is that you have very active multilateral and bilateral donors. They all look at Fiji as one of the countries in the region that is very actively engaged in moving their energy efforts forward and also looking at building up the whole economy and infrastructure along with it,” Ms Singh said.
3 “PARENTS MAKE EDUCATION YOUR FIRST PRIORITY”: MINISTER BOLE
Parents in Taveuni have been reminded to enrol their children in schools following the introduction of the free education scheme.
This was pointed out by the Minister for Education Filipe Bole when he met with the students, parents, school staff and community leaders at the Holy Cross College in Taveuni.
The Minister was reacting to reports that some parents have yet to enrol their children in schools in Taveuni. The Minister expressed his disappointment adding that parents need to consider their children’s future.
“The state has lifted of a major burden off the parents shoulders by proving free education grants for primary and secondary students and they need to play their role by putting every child in school,” commented Minister Bole.
“It is about time for school managements and school heads to step out into their communities and encourage parents to understand the importance of sending children to school”.
The Minister is in Taveuni this week leading senior officials from his Ministry.
4 NEW HATCHERY TO SUPPLEMENT INCOME FOR FARMERS
Aquaculture farmers of the western division have welcomed a new aquaculture hatchery that was recently opened in Naboni, Ra.
The new hatchery will assist farmers in providing fish and prawn for farming on more than 90 ponds that are active in the division.
“We are thankful that we do not have to look for our own hatcheries or buy fish to farm,” said Nadalei farmer Inosi Vosa.
“Since we started with tilapia farming, the fisheries and agriculture departments have been very helpful in their assistance whether it be technical of financial.”
Principle Fisheries Officer Lautoka, Mr George Madden says new techniques and initiatives have been implemented to assist farmers meet market demands.
“If you see tilapia sells very fast in all our towns and cities and its easy money for an idle piece of land which we assist villages and settlements turn into an income generating facility,” Mr Madden said.
The new hatchery will assist farmers in the whole division including Nadi, Sigatoka, Rakiraki, Nadarivatu and Ra.
“Government through the fisheries department supplies 5000 tilapia for farming after every harvest. That is if the tilapia is not able to reproduce like in Nadarivatu because of the altitude”, Madden said.
Nadi farmer, Prem Singh who recently received his supplies from the hatchery said he was hoping to increase the number of ponds to three from the current two that he has.
“I am grateful that new programmes are now available to us in the off season which assists farmers like me to put food on the table. I received more than $1,700 from my last harvest and it has helped me and my family a lot.”
5 LABOUR MINISTRY CLAIMS OUTSTANDING WAGES FOR SEAMEN
The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment Mr. Jone Usamate this week presented an outstanding wages cheque payout of $2,640.00 to Mr. Adrea Are Toromae.
Minister Usamate said that Seaman Adrea Toromae a brother of Tomu Koimola Junior and a cousin of Tomu Koimola Senior were employed with the Shipping Company since 20th December last year and went out fishing in the high seas where the Tomu Komoimola Junior lost his life at sea. Mr Toromae and Tomu Koimola Snr were both not paid all the wages due but through the work of the Ministry, those wages have now been paid.
The two surviving Seamen Mr. Toromae and Mr. Koimola Senior lodged their complaints with the Ministry on 05/03/14, following which an investigation was instigated.
“The Ministry’s Complaints Resolution Team visited Zhong Fei Shipping Agencies in Suva for the settlement of the seamen’s outstanding dues,” said the Minister.
“The Team managed to claim the due wages of the two seamen while the wages for the deceased, Mr. Koimola Junior is held pending a thorough investigation upon the return of the vessel and the owner who is currently overseas,” Mr. Usamate said.
The Minister cautioned employers not to exploit workers and deprive them of their rights.
“They must fulfill their responsibilities under the labour laws,” said the Minister.
“An employer must attest foreign contracts of service and have them signed by the seamen making fishing trips outside the Fiji Waters.”
“I urge our own people who take up such foreign employment to make sure that they retain a copy of their contracts,” Mr. Usamate said.
The Minister cautioned that the penalties for not having foreign contracts attested with the Ministry by the employer is a fine of up to $20,000.00 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding four (4) years or both.
Mr. Usamate further added that through the attestation of these contracts, the interests of our citizens are protected and government becomes aware of the whereabouts of its people.
6 EDUCATION MINISTRY REMINDS TEACHERS OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT POLICY
The Ministry of Education is reminding schools across the country on its zero-tolerance policy on corporal punishment.
This was highlighted by the Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal at Bouma District School in Taveuni whilst on a visit there this week.
“Any case on corporal punishment that comes to my office will be dealt accordingly and this may result in suspension or termination of teaching licenses,” said Dr Lal.
“The government has made education more accessible for Fijian children by providing free education grant incentives at primary and secondary level, therefore teachers need to understand their main reason for being present in schools, Dr Lal said.
7 LABOUR MEDIATION INTERVENTION AVERTS POTENTIAL STRIKE
The timely intervention of the Labour Ministry’s Mediation Services averted a potential strike between Yatule Beach Resort and the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industry Employees.
The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment Mr. Jone Usamate said that the Union had successfully secured a strike ballot through a secret ballot that was conducted on the 29th of November, 2013 at Yatule Beach Resort.
The Minister said that the outcome of secret ballot resulted union members to vote in favour of strike action following breakdown in negotiation.
He confirmed that the issues upon which the union sought strike mandate related primarily to the non-existence of a formal collective agreement which the union sought to have in place covering terms and conditions of employment of all its workers.
“The parties did not achieve the desired outcome after many efforts to amicably resolve the issue,” said the Minister.
“In this case, if settlement is not possible, the notice to take strike ballot and other forms of cohesive action could have exposed the company to strike,” he added.
Mr Usamate highlighted that in order to maintain the continued stability in the labour market and as a proactive measure, the Permanent Secretary for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr. Taito Waqa had activated an informal mediation through the Mediation Services to intervene and resolve the impending dispute.
“In this regard, my Permanent Secretary had assigned the Chief Mediator Mr Vimlesh Maharaj to initiate mediation proceedings,” he said.
“In the series of mediation sessions, the parties were able to finally come to an agreement on all the issues, resulting in a three year Collective Agreement signed between the parties”.
8 MINISTRY REMINDS SCHOOLS ON GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO FREE EDUCATION
The Ministry of Education has reminded the Bouma District School in Taveuni that the free education scheme is a commitment by the Bainimarama government to development education in the country.
This was pointed out by the Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal when he met with the students of Bouma District School and Lavena Primary School in Taveuni.
Dr Lal told parents, school heads, committees and other school stakeholders that while Government’s focus is to provide tuition, all other related costs that are not part of this scheme will be looked at. This includes boarding fees and childhood education.
At the same time, the Permanent Secretary reminded schools on the structure of this free education scheme and the various restrictions placed.
“No school is allowed to charge extra levies to students” said Dr Lal. However committees can fundraise for capital development projects after providing all necessary details of needs to the district office for the prior approval of the Permanent Secretary.
Schools can purchase computers for their children on the percentage allocation for IT services in the grant.
“Whenever the committee had exhausted the percentage allocation of a grant, the Manager should seek the approval of the Permanent Secretary in writing to divert other allocations to the present needs” he said.
‘The school managements should make use of the allocated school grant to facilitate teaching and learning so that teachers are not handicapped in anyway,’ said Dr Lal.
9 NEW STATE OF THE ART HEALTH EQUIPMENT TO BE UNVEILED
The Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma will commission capital purchases and renovation projects at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) tomorrow.
This development demonstrates the Fijian Government’s commitment to provide improved and modern health facilities across the country. This includes major renovations and the installation of equipment at the CWM hospital.
Minister Sharma will commission the new Liquid Cytology Machine and Scanner and inspect renovation works carried out at the hospital’s maternity unit, kitchen and mortuary.
Apart from this, a Lithotripter with ultra sound technology that is able to shatter renal tract stones without requiring surgery has also been installed. The machine is the first of its kind in the Pacific.
The Health Minister will also commission and unveil the plaque for the new Wellness Centre for Women.