- FIJIAN COMMUNITY WELCOMES PRESIDENT TO JAKARTA, INDONESIA – His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was hosted to a reception yesterday by Fijians living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
- $73M SPENDING FOR BA PROVINCE – Government is spending close to $74million in capital works for the Ba province, the biggest out of all the provinces in the Western Division.
- LIFESTYLE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TOWARDS NCD – “Lifestyle of Fijian children from conception to eighteen-years is the key to solving non-communicable disease (NCD) in Fiji.”
- TUVALU BOUND VOLUNTEER TEACHERS – Marking another milestone in Fiji’s cooperation with our Pacific neighbors, nine retired teachers engaged under the Fiji Volunteer Scheme will leave our shores in early June for Tuvalu for a two year volunteer teaching assignment.
- GOVERNMENT PROMOTES COMMERCIALIZATION OF VCO IN KORO – Women on Koro Island have acknowledged assistance received from the Bainimarama Government which will enable them to produce Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) for commercial purposes.
- PRB CELEBRATES SILVER JUBILEE – Public Rental Board (PRB) today celebrated 25 years of operations and commemorated the event in a small ceremony at the PRB headquarters.
1. FIJIAN COMMUNITY WELCOMES PRESIDENT TO JAKARTA, INDONESIA
His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was hosted to a reception yesterday by Fijians living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Fijian Head of State is currently in the Indonesian capital to officially visit the Fijian Embassy which was opened in 2011.
This visit will allow him to be briefed on areas that the Fijian embassy has been working on in strengthening relations between the two nations.
At the reception, the President briefly updated the Fijian community on various developments taking place back home.
In particular, he updated them on the electoral developments including the scheduled election for September this year.
Ratu Epeli also expressed his gratitude to Fijians living there for strengthening Fiji’s presence in Indonesia.
Later this week, Ratu Epeli will meet with senior officials of the embassy in Jakarta.
- $73M SPENDING FOR BA PROVINCE
Government is spending close to $74million in capital works for the Ba province, the biggest out of all the provinces in the Western Division.
This was revealed during the Ba Provincial Council meeting at Viseisei Village in Vuda today by the Divisional Commissioner Western Joeli Cawaki.
He said the province which is the biggest in land and population size in the division has been a contributing factor to the increased funding allocation.
“There are currently 21 public sector investment projects (PSIP) which are ongoing for the Ba province and the amount $73.9m represents 78 per cent of capital allocation to the Western Division,” Mr Cawaki said.
“This year, Government is spending $1.01 billion for capital expenditure with the Western Division receiving $94.6m or 9 percent as a proportion of the total capital budget.”
The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA), Ministry of Health and Denarau Bridge represent the top three allocations receiving a cumulative funding of nearly $62.6million.
“There is some major projects currently taking place in the Ba province and some of it are slowly taking shape such as the Nadi Airport to Denarau four lane road widening project ($30m) and rural power grid extension from Korovou to Tavua ($1.4m), the Extension of the Lautoka High Court ($5m) among others,” he said.
Mr Cawaki said Government recognizes the need to develop the western division especially the Ba province as it is economically vibrant.
“Government will continue to ensure that developments are done to benefit all Fijians,” he added.
3. LIFESTYLE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TOWARDS NCD
“Lifestyle of Fijian children from conception to eighteen-years is the key to solving non-communicable disease (NCD) in Fiji.”
This important message was shared by Ministry of Health’s National NCD advisor, Dr Isimeli Tukana during a workshop on “Sugar Sweetened Beverages and controlling the marketing of Unhealthy Foods to Children” held in Suva today.
Dr Tukana said the solution to NCD crisis is 80-per cent lifestyle and 20-percent medical whereby tobacco, food, alcohol and exercise are labeled as lifestyle factors.
The main aim of the workshop was to find out public views on whether to support the inquisition of 10-percent tax on sugar sweetened beverages and review the regulation on the marketing of junk food to the children.
“We need to shift from organic to chemical because evidence is showing that Fijians are in the chemical era,” Dr Tukana said.
“You being a stakeholder in the nurturing of Fijian children in body and mind are important for us to change our laws which are organic and outdated and update it to the chemical era we are living in terms of salt and sugar.”
Dr Tukana said studies conducted by the Health Ministry shows an increase in the number of NCD cases in the country with five percent cases in 1985, 16-per cent in 2002 and 30-per cent in 2011.
The workshop was held in collaboration with the Consumer Council of Fiji and relevant stakeholders from National Food and Nutrition Centre, Diabetes Fiji Inc and Wellness Fiji.
Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said some marketing strategies used by companies are lure people into buying that product.
“Higher tax should be introduced in sugar sweetened beverages to increase the price of the product which will deter consumers from buying unhealthy products,”Mrs Kumar said.
“Consumers have the right to health but at the same time consumers need to be responsible towards their health.”
The Ministry of Health and Education are working closely to follow up on the revised canteen guidelines currently being implemented in 84 schools across Fiji.
4. TUVALU BOUND VOLUNTEER TEACHERS
Marking another milestone in Fiji’s cooperation with our Pacific neighbors, nine retired teachers engaged under the Fiji Volunteer Scheme will leave our shores in early June for Tuvalu for a two year volunteer teaching assignment.
Public Service Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said all processes have been completed and the appointees would be given their travel documents and orientation tomorrow (Thursday, May 29th).
Of the nine teachers, eight will be teaching Literacy and Numeracy at primary school level and one teacher will be teaching secondary school level science.
The nine teachers will join the group of 27 other retired teachers who are sharing their knowledge and experience around the Pacific. There are currently 12 volunteer teachers in the Republic of Marshall Islands, nine in Vanuatu and six teachers in Nauru.
Under the Fiji Volunteer Service, professionals are engaged following requests from hosting organisations both locally and regionally for sharing of expertise and development of human resources capacity in areas such as education, health, climate change, disaster preparedness and management, HIV/AIDS prevention and other areas of national and regional interest.
The Public Service Commission is the implementing arm of the Fiji Volunteer Service.
5. GOVERNMENT PROMOTES COMMERCIALIZATION OF VCO IN KORO
Women on Koro Island have acknowledged assistance received from the Bainimarama Government which will enable them to produce Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) for commercial purposes.
Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni officially visited the villages of Nacamaki, Tuatua and Sinuvaca in Mudu district on Koro Island this week to present VCO extracting equipment and materials to the three women’s groups.
The assistance which amounts to $4000 was complemented with the VCO quality control training facilitated by the Ministry to economically empower the women on the Island.
Dr Luveni said that equipping of women on Koro with the right tools and skills will help them commercialize the production of VCO.
“From my meetings with these women, I am very impressed with their level of confidence to venture into commercializing VCO. The Ministry’s objective this year is to promote women into export driven products, VCO being one of the key products targeted for overseas market,” Dr Luveni said.
“Resources like coconuts are readily available and the Ministry has responded to their request by providing them with VCO training and the equipment to help them meet the demand and quality for overseas marketing,” she said.
Dr Luveni added that the Ministry was encouraging women’s groups in the Eastern Division to pursue the production of VCO.
“Women’s groups in Eastern Division particularly those in the Lomaiviti and Lau group are encouraged to pursue VCO production. In fact we have prepared a project proposal and submitted it to Korean Embassy for potential marketing of Fiji’s VCO into Korea,” Dr Luveni said.
Nacamaki women’s group president Aqela Dibuna said the assistance from the Ministry has enabled them to produce 200 litres of VCO per month.
“There are 40 women who will benefit from the assistance given to us and VCO is a profitable business for the Nacamaki women as there are plenty of coconuts available and with the tools like the electrical coconut scrapper presented, our group will be able to produce 200 litres of VCO per month which will be sold to a VCO export trader in Suva,” Mrs Dibua said.
“Each litre will be sold at $13 which means we will be able to earn over $1000 each month. We also look forward to selling these VCO’s at the Women’s Expo that will be held at Vodafone arena from 6th to 8th of August this year.”
“We would like to convey greatest appreciation to the Minister for Women Dr Luveni in particular for assisting us with this much needed equipment and for showing us the way to become financially independent,” Mrs Dibuna said.
Similarly, Tuatua women’s group president Marica Marama said the government assistance in building the new VCO production centre will boost income generation for Tuatua women.
“There are 60 women in this village who depend on weaving and masi making to earn income for their families. The women have been producing VCO but at a smaller scale. However, through the VCO training that was organised by the Ministry we have acquired skills to expand the production.
“And the Minister’s visit to our village today has also assisted us to secure government funding of $5000 to construct a VCO production centre that will provide us with a platform to process the VCO, to do the labeling and packaging all under one roof and even train the unemployed youths in our village on the VCO production,” Mrs Marama explained.
This year the Ministry has also assisted four women’s groups in the Lau group to start their VCO production.
Interested women’s group are advised to approach their nearest divisional women interest officers for further assistance on accessing similar assistance.
- PRB CELEBRATES SILVER JUBILEE
Public Rental Board (PRB) today celebrated 25 years of operations and commemorated the event in a small ceremony at the PRB headquarters.
PRB Board member, Maraia Ubitau, who was chief guest at the ceremony, said despite the initial hardships faced by PRB, the organisation grew from strength to strength over the last 25 years and is now providing affordable housing to more than 933 families or 6,000 individuals.
Mrs Ubitau acknowledged Government, business partners and other stakeholders who have assisted or partnered with PRB over the years and has reassured its clients of the continued provision of housing for years to come.
She said that the provision of low-cost housing shall continue to be in demand from the public, as evidenced in its growing number of waitlisted candidates.
“Government has taken a holistic approach to providing quality housing that is affordable for all levels of society. They have introduced a number of innovative measures aimed at reducing the cost of building new homes. These include a Land Bank to provide land for housing development, facilitating low-interest home loans from commercial banks and financial institutions, Tax refunds for new homeowners to build their homes, price controls on building and construction material, more lending for homes through the FNPF as well as a new housing grant to be implemented soon,” Mrs Ubitau said.
To meet the growing demand, with Government’s support, PRB is currently in the process of constructing more units.
Mrs Ubitau said the work done by PRB is encouraging Fijians to graduate from rental to home ownership.
“To this end I wish to thank the Bainimarama Government for their continued support via the provision of $1millon annually which enables us to undertake various capital works. The Government has also focused efforts on providing housing for the poorest members of our communities, which also reduces pressure on PRB.
“Within the next two years, the Board plans to roll out construction of 72 flats in Simla and Kalabu, 50 flats in Savusavu, 160 flats in Raiwaqa and the soon to be opened 210 units in Raiwai.
“Amongst these are the Government’s Participatory Squatter Upgrading Projects – including the project at Jittu Estate – which are offering a new approach by asking people to make a small financial contribution towards their new homes. In return, not only do they receive a sense of ownership, they also receive a strata title that gives them the ability to use their properties as security to enable them to obtain loans for other purposes – not go to the money lender,” Mrs Ubitau added.
She said that although PRB continues to face challenges that have affected its output, she remains adamant that PRB shall continue to forge ahead to meet these difficulties head on.
“PRB has continued and will continue to break ground to ensure that despite these challenges we as an entity continue to develop innovative solutions.”
Mrs Ubitau said that apart from the provision of housing, PRB has embarked on a more holistic approach by working with its tenants so that they are given every opportunity and provided with the capacity for personal growth and development.
“This is something that all our approved applicants waiting for allocation can look forward to,” Mrs Ubitau said.
Given Government’s policy to provide decent and affordable housing for all by 2020, Mrs Ubitau highlighted that development plans have been earmarked by PRB which aims to complement Government’s goals for housing.
PRB has been in operation since May 16, 1989, after the Housing Act was amended to provide affordable housing on rental for those in the low to middle income brackets.
This is the aim of the PRB, which is to provide premier and affordable housing on a transitional basis.