1.FRU DEVELPES COOPERATIVE LINKS WITH UNITED ARAB ENIRATES RUGBY FEDERATION – Fiji Rugby Union chairman Filimone Waqabaca, today signed in Dubai a ground breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to open cooperative arrangements to develop rugby in the UAE.
2. 33,546 BENEFIT FROM GOVERNMENT’S BUS FARE SCHEME – Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has confirmed that a total of 33,546 people comprising of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are currently benefiting from Government’s bus fare scheme.
3. CAMPAIGN TO DEVELOP A PROMISING FUTURE FOR NADELEI – Nadelei village in the interior of Tavua is yet another village in the western division to pledge its support towards the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community program.
4. HEADS OF DEPARTMENT UNDERGO TRAINING TO IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY – Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities heads of departments were part of a weeklong training to improve service delivery at the naval base in Togalevu.
5. WELFARE TO MAXIMISE ON WORK OPPORTUNITIES FOR BENEFICIARIES – Government through its Welfare Graduation Programme is determined to maximize on income generating and work opportunities for able bodied beneficiaries under social welfare program.
6. HOUSING AUTHORITY TAKES MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY – The Housing Authority is set for a week long road show in Labasa and Sigatoka.
7. PROJECT BRINGS SWEET RESULTS FOR NADELEI WOMEN – Nadelei Women’s Group in Tavua have been assisted with a beekeeping project that is producing sweet results for this rural community.
8. REFORM TO STREAMLINE SERVICE DELIVERY – A review of social protection programs in Fiji has enabled Government to identify determinants of poverty and devise effective strategies to increase assistance provided to needy families with a vision to improve livelihood and alleviate poverty.
1.FRU DEVELPES COOPERATIVE LINKS WITH UNITED ARAB ENIRATES RUGBY FEDERATION
Fiji Rugby Union chairman Filimone Waqabaca, today signed in Dubai a ground breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to open cooperative arrangements to develop rugby in the UAE.
The signing with UAE Rugby Federation chairman Mohammed Falaknaz was witnessed by the Fijian Ambassador to the UAE, Ambassador Robin Nair.
The initial focus of FRU will be to develop the seven’s format of the game.
Speaking from UAE, Mr Waqabaca said, “FRU was very pleased to be involved in the development of rugby in the United Arab Emirates as UAE rugby works towards getting its national sevens team into the IRB’s Sevens International Competition and also to assist the development of the Rugby in the UAE to international competition standards.
Mr Falaknaz said the UAE Federation was excited to take this step forward with Fiji Rugby.
we are especially excited with the opportunity to enhance the development of our 7’s players and we thank His Excellency Ambassador Robin Nair for introducing us to the Fiji Rugby Union,” Mr Falaknaz said.
The UAE Rugby Association, as it was then called, became operation only on 1 January 2011 and in June of that year, it was awarded with full membership of the Asian Rugby Football Union. In October 2012, the UAERA was upgraded to Federation status and in late November was awarded with full membership of the IRB.
This MOU is the first one that FRU has signed with any national rugby federation and it promises be a unique arrangement for mutual benefit of the two nations.
FRU has invited the UAE Sevens as a “wild card entry” to the Centennial Sevens International Tournament in Fiji in October 2013.
2. 33,546 BENEFIT FROM GOVERNMENT’S BUS FARE SCHEME
Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has confirmed that a total of 33,546 people comprising of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are currently benefiting from Government’s bus fare scheme.
Ministry permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta has confirmed that to date a total of 32, 547 elderly who are above 60 years of age, with total of 999 persons with disability are benefiting from the scheme.
The bus fare scheme is an agreement between the Government and the Fiji Bus Operators Association (FBOA) that was signed in 2011 which allows elderly persons with age of 60 years and above to pay half the fare while disabled persons are eligible for free bus fares.
“Social welfare processes all the applications for the bus fare scheme. All they need to do is provide the passport photos and birth certificate and we process the Identification Card (ID) cards. For elderly they carry a yellow ID card and for permanently disabled they have a red ID card,” Dr Koroivueta said.
“Once the ID cards is prepared, the beneficiaries are given vouchers. Every time they travel they show their ID card and use vouchers, however with the inclusion of electronic ticketing they have been given their e-ticketing cards free of charge from the Vodafone Fiji Limited.”
“The conditions will still be the same even when using e-ticketing card, those 60 years and above pay half the bus fare while persons with disabilities can travel for free,”he added.
The Government is committed to providing an enabling and inclusive society for senior citizens and disabled persons in Fiji and this initiative symbolizes this commitment.
3.CAMPAIGN TO DEVELOP A PROMISING FUTURE FOR NADELEI
Nadelei village in the interior of Tavua is yet another village in the western division to pledge its support towards the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community program.
Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni this week officially launched this campaign said the beginning of the campaign would provide opportunities for the villages to work together with the relevant stakeholders in promoting violence free environment while encouraging socioeconomic development in Nadelei.
Nadelei village headman Ilai Manoa acknowledged Government for creating this opportunity.
“ It is a happy occasion for my people. We have gathered here to show our support for Government towards creating violence free communities for women and children,” Mr Manoa said.
“The campaign will benefit all the people in this village, as they will be able to understand their roles in their families and importance of having peaceful homes for our children to grow into responsible and successful citizens.
“On behalf of my people, I thank the Government for coming to our village, Dr Luveni is the first minister to visit us and we admire her ability to motivate the men and women on their roles of building violence free communities.”
Mr Manoa highlighted that the village had already taken a step ahead in its commitment by forming a crime prevention committee in the village through which people can gain information on programs and laws protecting women and children.
“Anyone found breaking the law, will not be spared, they will be dealt with by the police. This campaign has resulted in a established networking with the police who visit us once in a month to ensure everything is ok in the village.” he said.
Nadelei village Soqosoqo Vakamarama president Camasi Matakua reiterated the campaign will provide a new beginning to the women and girls in the village who will now have a strong voice in the decision making issues relating to village developments.
“This is the first campaign in all these years to show that women and children should always be treated with respect, and that leaves no room for abuse or violence,” Mrs Matakua said.
4. HEADS OF DEPARTMENT UNDERGO TRAINING TO IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY
Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities heads of departments were part of a weeklong training to improve service delivery at the naval base in Togalevu.
While closing the workshop yesterday, Ministry of Works deputy secretary for operations Manasa Lesuma reminded participants to continuously explore innovative and simpler ways of dealing with daily work activities in a joint effort to improve service delivery to ordinary members of the public.
“We in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities believe that our middle managers play a crucial role in our organisations, this particular group of people are the most resourceful and most experience people,” Mr Lesuma said.
“That is the reason why we conducted this training to bridge the gap and allow middle managers to be able to work with senior managers and co-workers.”
Mr Lesuma highlighted that managers are the backbone of any organisation and the ministry has continued to strive for excellence every year.
The Ministry achieved an Achievement award last year at the annual Service Excellence Awards after a lapse of seven years and this has motivated each staff to be honest in every aspect of their work.
Some focus areas of the training included effectiveness of their operations and the importance of reports that are submitted to the Strategic Framework for Change and the Ministry of National Planning office.
“We also focused on the human resource responsibilities and getting them to understand the importance of customer service,” Mr Lesuma said.
Meanwhile, Ravind Kumar, an official from the Fiji Meteorology office thanked the Ministry for the opportunity and said this was a refresher course that would allow them to become good leaders.
Department of Energy principal officer Paula Katirewa said the training provided him the opportunity to be honest with his duties and provide adequate services to the people.
Mr Lesuma acknowledged the efforts of each official and was optimistic that changes will be perceived in future.
5. WELFARE TO MAXIMISE ON WORK OPPORTUNITIES FOR BENEFICIARIES
Government through its Welfare Graduation Programme is determined to maximize on income generating and work opportunities for able bodied beneficiaries under social welfare program.
Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta has reiterated that “Those under Poverty Benefit Scheme will be assisted for a maximum of 3 years and we have an avenue whereby we are able to identify the able bodied recipients and provide them with training, income generating opportunities and move them out of welfare into workfare.”
Dr Koroivueta said the intention is to find employment or engage the recipients into income generating projects to remove families from the poverty cycle.
“The Poverty Benefit Scheme will have a sustainable monitoring system in place through its graduation strategy within 3 years. So we provide employment opportunities to able bodied recipients into informal sector and private sector and once they become financially independent, we will graduate them from social welfare assistance,” Dr Koroivueta said.
“Obviously in life there are people who do need to be assisted but we need to give it to those who really deserve it.”
The Ministry works together with the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED), to assist the recipients to venture into economic projects like poultry, yaqona retail, handicraft, fish retail, food parcel selling, screen printing, tailoring, beekeeping, dalo retail, goat farming and sewing.
Not only are the recipients provided training, they are also assisted financially to start their income generating projects which is closely monitored by the Ministry.
“Following an evaluation it has been found that these income generating projects have improved the livelihood of recipients by providing them with sustainable income that actually exceeds the monthly state allowance they used to receive when on welfare assistance,” Dr Koroivueta highlighted.
Last year the Ministry supported around 32 livelihood projects and 39 sewing programs which are progressing well.
6. HOUSING AUTHORITY TAKES MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY
The Housing Authority is set for a week long road show in Labasa and Sigatoka.
The weeklong Northern Crime Prevention Week will focus on promoting safety in the community in Labasa which will coincide with the Poverty Reduction Awareness campaign in Sigatoka from June 19-21.
“The Northern Crime Prevention Week is a time to promote safety in the community and in our homes, “said Housing Authority chief executive officer, Alipate Naiorosui.
As part of the weeklong event which begins today, Housing Authority will utilize the opportunity to sell land lots that are available in its Rara subdivision.
Through these events, Housing Authority executives will be speaking with people about upcoming subdivisions that are in progress, home loan and ground rent payments as well as providing information on valuation services, surveying and construction costing.
“A key focus will be to create more awareness around the ‘Gold Package’ home loan product that is targeted at first homeowners who earn $16,500 or less per annum”, Mr Naiorosui said.
Mr Naiorosui added, “We anticipate a huge crowd at the Northern Crime Prevention Week and the Poverty Reduction Awareness campaign in Sigatoka and Housing Authority will use this opportunity to speak with our existing homeowners about how we can finance improvements to their existing home”.
The Northern Crime Prevention carnival will be held at Subrail Park, Labasa and the Poverty Reduction Awareness will be held at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka.
7. PROJECT BRINGS SWEET RESULTS FOR NADELEI WOMEN
Nadelei Women’s Group in Tavua have been assisted with a beekeeping project that is producing sweet results for this rural community.
With a funding of $5000 from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, the Nadelei Women’s Group started the beekeeping project in August last year and success of this project was revealed during the minister Dr Jiko Luveni’s visit to Nadelei village this week.
Dr Luveni said empowering rural women into income generating and sustainable livelihood is one of the major components of the Government’s Women’s Plan of Action (2010 to 2019).
Nadelei soqosoqo vakamarama president Camasi Matakua said the project is now generating income for their women’s group.
“We are grateful to the Ministry for helping us with this project. We started with five beehives of which we have already harvested two and we earned over $200. This money which has been deposited into the group’s savings account and we are determined to expand our honey project and we will buy five more bee hives so altogether we will have 10 beehives this year,” Ms Matakua said.
“There is good demand for honey here in Tavua and we are able to sell it at price ranging from $8 to $15.”
Ms Matakua said next week, the group will harvest three bee hives and is expecting to sell the honey at Tavua market and earn around $300.
“This is the first ever women’s project in our village and it symbolizes that women regardless of their qualification have the ability to operate a business, earn income and look after her family. The project has developed confidence and friendship among the women to work together in building better lives for their families,” Ms Matakua said
Dr Luveni also launched the zero tolerance violence free community campaign and handed two sewing machines to the Nadelei Women’s Group to further complement their income generating through sewing program.
Dr Luveni said poverty is an underlying factor in gender-based violence and the socioeconomic empowerment of women is one of the key pillars of women development through the zero tolerance campaign.
Meanwhile, Nadelei village turaga-ni-koro Ilai Manoa thanked Government for providing income generating opportunities for women which he said will contribute towards improving the livelihood of families in the village.
“The beekeeping project is not only benefiting the women, it also benefits their families as the income earned by women will be further invested into the education,” Mr Manoa said.
“Through the zero tolerance campaign, everyone has learnt to work together and there is strengthened bonding among the people to live in peace and harmony with each other,” he added.
8. REFORM TO STREAMLINE SERVICE DELIVERY
A review of social protection programs in Fiji has enabled Government to identify determinants of poverty and devise effective strategies to increase assistance provided to needy families with a vision to improve livelihood and alleviate poverty.
Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta reiterated that a review of the social welfare programs in 2011 by the World Bank Team has enabled the Ministry to firm up its strategies for poverty alleviation.
“It was for the first time that we were able to visually map the areas in Fiji, identify the districts and divisions that were living in high incidence of poverty and this were target areas for poverty alleviation programs,” Dr Koroivueta said.
“The key focus for government was to make the change and to have an impact in terms of greater coverage of beneficiaries and also to improve service delivery.”
“Formalizing the targeting mechanism is one of the important recommendations made in the “Assessment of the Social Protection System in Fiji and Recommendations for Policy Changes Report”,” Dr Koroivueta added.
He said based on the credible evidence gathered from the HIES (Household Income Expenditure Survey) it was essential for government to take effective strategies and approaches on reaching out to the vulnerable population.
“We knew that there were people who were actually abusing the system there was double dipping and based on credible evidence from HIES, the government was able to strategically put in appropriate measures with available resources, with clear intention that there are specific target areas government needs to invest to ensure that there is a greater impact,” Dr Koroivueta said.
“Poverty is typically determined at a household level and three main determinants identified were the number of people in a household, income generating of the head of the household, ageing and level of education.”
“The strategies that government has put in are focused on alleviating poverty and it is targeted towards economically empowering the poorest of the poor category. We needed the reform because we found out that there were some beneficiaries who have been on government assistance for generations, so we needed to liberate them,” Dr Koroivueta said.
He said in the quest to streamline services, Government has introduced two new programs this year: Poverty Benefit Scheme that provides a maximum of $150 monthly allowance to needy families and Social Pension Scheme which is $30 monthly pension for the elderly 70 years and above who don’t receive any form of superannuation funds.
“Government is very clear on the terms for welfare assistance, it’s going to be 3 year assistance, which is going to be monitored and we also have an avenue whereby we are able to identify the able-bodied recipients whom we can provide training opportunities and transfer them from welfare into workfare,” Dr Koroivueta added.