1. LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN CHINA UNDERWAY – A workshop designed to strengthen leadership skills amongst senior government officials has been well attended and received by participants.
2. FIJI PROVIDES MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TO NAURU – A Fijian Government rehabilitation team is currently in Nauru to assess amputees with the aim of getting them ready for prosthetic limb fitting in Fiji.
3. HOPE FOR FAMILIES AS NEW HOMES OPENED – Government’s Tropical Cyclone Evan rehabilitation continues in the Western Division as five more families received housing assistance in the Nadroga/Navosa area last week.
4. GET TESTED, KNOW YOUR STATUS: HEALTH MINISTRY – The Ministry of Health is urging the public to visit nearby health facilities and access testing services for HIV and AIDS.
5. 47 HOMEOWNERS APPLAUD LOAN WRITE-OFF – A retired Public Works Department (PWD) employee has applauded Government’s initiative of assisting home owners through the Social Housing policy of the Housing Authority (HA).
6. LIBRARY ROAD SHOW FOR KADAVU – The Department of Library Services would be touring the Province of Kadavu later this week as part of Government’s “literacy outreach program”.
7 WORK ON RAIWAI PRB FLATS TO RESUME SOON – Work on the Raiwai Public Rental flats will restart soon as Public Rental Board (PRB) signed the renewed contract agreement with China Railway First Group this afternoon.
1 LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN CHINA UNDERWAY
A workshop designed to strengthen leadership skills amongst senior government officials has been well attended and received by participants.
Twenty senior officials from across government agencies and statutory bodies are participating at the Training Workshop for Senior Public Servants on Leadership Building in Shanghai city in China.
The intensive two-week training carried out by the China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong (CELAP) is aimed at strengthening participants’ skills in the areas of public policies implementation, succession planning, projects implementation and service delivery.
The training is a result of direct meetings between the Academy’s top officials and senior officials from the Fijian Government who over the years have sought to look at ways of building capacity.
Recently a delegation from the academy visited Fiji proposing to identify areas within Fiji’s civil service that needed strengthening.
The Public Service Commission permanent secretary Mr Parmesh Chand said this new development exposes senior officials to an environment that can add value to their own work.
“The whole idea is to get senior public officials exposed to the ‘can do attitude’ as well as the manner and speed with which the public service responds in a rapidly growing economy such as China.”
The second cohort of 25 Senior Public Officials will depart for a similar 10 day training programme on Leadership Skills Development from 11-22 November, 2013.
Prior to the training, senior civil servants will participate in an exhibition at Guangzhou on “The China International Green Innovative Products and Technologies 2013.” This would be coordinated in collaboration with Fiji’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
2 FIJI PROVIDES MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TO NAURU
A Fijian Government rehabilitation team is currently in Nauru to assess amputees with the aim of getting them ready for prosthetic limb fitting in Fiji.
The Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma said that while the Ministry has been assisting Pacific neighbors in areas of human resource development, this would be the first time for Fiji to provide direct services to a neighboring country.
“The request came through Nauru’s Minister of Health during a regional ministerial meeting held recently. A rehab doctor and two physiotherapist are in Nauru with 30 patients,” Dr Sharma said.
“Nauru has a hospital but does not have prosthetic services especially for amputees.”
Dr Sharma said once assessed, the selected patients would go into a fitness program to meet the requirements before getting their limbs fitted in Fiji.
He added that the selected patients would be travelling to Fiji to get their limbs fitted at the Tamavua hospital.
The rehab team left for Nauru on the 18th of September and would be back in the country today to make arrangements on the resources available for the Nauru patients.
3 HOPE FOR FAMILIES AS NEW HOMES OPENED
Government’s Tropical Cyclone Evan rehabilitation continues in the Western Division as five more families received housing assistance in the Nadroga/Navosa area last week.
Villagers who had lost everything in the natural disaster just before Christmas last year were presented with their new homes by the Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Administrator Mr Peni Koro.
Home assistance recipient Mr Etonia Vunakece thanked Government for fulfilling its promise of assistance to those affected by TC Evan.
“Though it has taken long, we are thankful to the Government and the Prime Minister for fulfilling his promise in providing homes to those of us that had lost everything in the cyclone,” Mr Vunakece.
“We understand that there are others that have also lost their homes and we are just grateful that we have received our home as we are mere villagers with very less money. It is very thoughtful of the Prime Minister to remember us.”
Mr Koro apologised to the villagers for the delay in the construction of homes stating that there were others also that faced the same situation.
“It’s almost a year now but this is just a small help from your government in helping rebuild your lives again,” Mr Koro said.
“Government constantly continues to look at various ways to assist all Fijians who had lost their belongings in the cyclone.”
“Government hopes that you will continue to be economically active to positively assist your families, village, and the nation,” he added.
4 GET TESTED, KNOW YOUR STATUS: HEALTH MINISTRY
The Ministry of Health is urging the public to visit nearby health facilities and access testing services for HIV and AIDS.
The Ministry’s spokesperson Mr Shalvin Deo said the availability and accessibility of testing centres around the country should encourage more Fijians to show up at these centres for testing.
“Fijians can get tested at any major hospitals, sub – divisional hospitals and hub centres are able to do testing,” Mr Deo said.
“All clinics around Fiji have Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing (VCCT) trained practitioners who can conduct a HIV test,” he added.
Mr Deo said the Ministry had conducted two trainings in each of the four divisions this year to increase the number of sites now eligible to provide the necessary counseling and testing in Fiji
His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau had earlier highlighted on the need to encourage volunteer testing during his visits to schools around the country as part of his HIV/AIDS campaign. The Head of State said it was important that the most “at risk” age group need to know about the epidemic.
“One of the main challenges that the Health Ministry is facing is the lack of (volunteer) testing however, Government cannot push for compulsory testing because people have their own rights,” Ratu Epeli said.
5 47 HOMEOWNERS APPLAUD LOAN WRITE-OFF
A retired Public Works Department (PWD) employee has applauded Government’s initiative of assisting home owners through the Social Housing policy of the Housing Authority (HA).
Mr Ulaiasi Toni of Kalabo was all-smiles when he received his letter of home-loan write-off from the Housing Authority chairman, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga in Valelevu today.
Housing Authority wrote-off 47 loan accounts of customers under its social hosing policy as well as personal loans which is a first for the 47 customers.
Personal loans are provided to HA customers who face difficulties paying school fees, funerals and other miscellaneous activities. This is separate from the home loan account.
Mr Toni said he was fortunate to be selected for the assistance as he was struggling to repay the loan after his retirement.
“A substantial amount has been written-off from my home loan because I was unable to repay due to financial difficulties. I am also grateful that my personal loan amounting to $11,800 has been written-off. This is a big relief for my family as well,” Mr Toni said.
HA had introduced the social housing policy in January, 2011 to assist existing home owners facing genuine financial difficulty.
A total of 90 families were assisted under the policy in 2011. In 2012, 10 village housing schemes were written-off in the Western and Northern Divisions, which was part of the social housing policy.
This year, home loan accounts for four village housing schemes worth $370,000 were partially written-off.
Colonel Tikoitoga said 393 families had been assisted under this policy since 2011 as the welfare of all Fijians is a major priority for government.
“The 47 loan accounts amount to $395,000 of which $285,000 is being drawn from government grant and $110,000 from Housing Authority provision,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.
“Special conditions apply for the assistance whereby a caveat period of 15 years is placed on all write-off properties. The home owner during this period if sells or transfers shares, the total amount written-off will need to be repaid to Housing Authority.”
Under the policy, the target customers are those who have either paid more than twice the principle loan amount or are retired or can prove genuine financial difficulty.
The policy is not a hand-out by government but a program to ensure that those most likely to lose their homes due to disability, unemployment, sickness or retirement are provided assistance through the strong criteria in place to those who qualify.
6 LIBRARY ROAD SHOW FOR KADAVU
The Department of Library Services would be touring the Province of Kadavu later this week as part of Government’s “literacy outreach program”.
The program commits Government through the Ministry of Information, National Archives and Library Services of Fiji to identify communities across the country that have minimal or no access to library services and resources.
A key component of the program is to promote literacy development in rural or isolated communities in Fiji.
The Ministry’s permanent secretary Sharon Smith Johns pointed out that there is a strong need for more library resources to be made available in these communities.
“The Ministry is continuously looking for opportunities to work with rural communities, schools and different organisations to open up more libraries to make Fiji knowledge-based society,” Ms Smith Johns said.
“The Department of Library Services spends much of its time in the rural or remote communities promoting literacy. This includes recent outreach programs in the Yasawa’s, Naitasiri and Lomaiviti,” she added.
Ms Smith Johns highlighted that the tour was an opportunity for the Department to monitor the use of community libraries established by Government.
“It is also an opportunity for the Department to identify challenges and areas that need improvement,” she said.
The tour will also include various income generating projects for the women of Kadavu, such as arts and craft projects which can be used for commercial opportunities.
Ms Smith Johns said the outreach tour enabled the Ministry to reach out to Fijians in these communities as part of its public relations commitment.
This includes displays of various historical footage and materials housed at the National Archives of Fiji.
The tour which begins this week and ends on October 9 would also include visits to the Muani and Namalata Primary Schools.
7 WORK ON RAIWAI PRB FLATS TO RESUME SOON
Work on the Raiwai Public Rental flats will restart soon as Public Rental Board (PRB) signed the renewed contract agreement with China Railway First Group this afternoon.
Construction works on the flats in Nairai Road, Raiwai had come to a stop earlier this year due to a dispute between China Railway First Group and PRB.
However, PRB Chairman Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said the signing today will allow for works on the one and two-bedroom flats to recommence soon.
Mr Tikoitoga said the renewed partnership with China Railway First Group is another milestone for PRB as it would assist in the provision of affordable rental housing for low to middle income earners.
“We just signed another renewed contract agreement with China Railway Number One with the continuation and completion of the Raiwai Rental Public flats. We are very appreciative of the China Railway for maintaining and continuing the relationship with Public Rental Board,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.
“More importantly, we are very appreciative to the Chinese Government for having come forward and providing $9.3m as a grant to the PRB through the Government of Fiji on the intervention of the Prime Minister to ensure that we complete this project.”
He said the agreement signed today entails the initial $9million loan and the additional $9.3m grant by the Chinese Government to PRB.
He added that the additional grant has been given to PRB through the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Under the contract, the Raiwai flats should be completed and be ready for handover in August, 2014,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.
China Railway First Group project manager, Mr Yang Zhiming said they are happy with the solution to the Raiwai project.
“We will restart the work on the flats as soon as possible to meet the requirements and the timeframe set for us,” Mr Zhiming said.
The completion of the Raiwai public rental flats would benefit 208 tenants.