CAPTION: Ms Amelia Nairoba left and Mr Vueti May second from right after being conferred with the certificate of admission by Korean Ambassador Hae-Wook CHEONG at Korean Embassy in Suva today.
1. SOCIAL WELFARE MOVES TO E-TICKETING – The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation is advising all beneficiaries of government’s Bus Fare Concession Cards Program that they will need to fill in an e-ticketing Registration Form at their nearest Social Welfare Office to obtain e-tickets.
2. FIRCA TO OPEN NEW OFFICES – The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) will open two new offices in the western division tomorrow to add to its existing offices in major towns and cities around the country.
3. NORTHERN WOMEN THRIVE IN VANILLA FARMING – Naidi village in Cakaudrove is frequented by tourists and foreigners who are attracted to the aroma of vanilla. What started only 4 years ago, the Vanilla Farming Project for the village has now become a success for the Tabuvakasuka Women’s Group who pride themselves as vanilla farmers in the friendly north.
4. TWO FIJIAN OFFICIALS OFFERED KOICA SCHOLARSHIP – Two Government officials will study in Korea under the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) Master Degree Program from February.
5. HEALTH AND SANITATION PRIORITY IN SQUATTER HOUSING – The Minister for Local Government Urban Development and Housing Samuela Saumatua visited Vatoa squatter settlement in Nasinu to inspect progress on works undertaken to provide proper sanitation for each of the households in the settlement.
1 SOCIAL WELFARE MOVES TO E-TICKETING
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation is advising all beneficiaries of government’s Bus Fare Concession Cards Program that they will need to fill in an e-ticketing Registration Form at their nearest Social Welfare Office to obtain e-tickets.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Mr Govind Sami said that it is important for all the beneficiaries to start filling in the e-ticketing forms from next week.
“Once the e-ticketing Registration Form is filled and endorsed by Social Welfare Officers, it must then be submitted to the nearest Vodafone office after which processing will be done and e-tickets will be issued to the beneficiaries free of cost,” he said. These tickets will be issued through the Vodafone offices.
Mr Sami has advised that this process will take few months to complete and all the bus fare beneficiaries are advised to continue using their Bus Fare ID Cards to access bus services.
“The Ministry will continue to update the beneficiaries through the media and further information can be obtained through the social welfare offices,” Mr Sami said.
The total beneficiaries of the Bus Fare Concession are 30,841.
2 FIRCA TO OPEN NEW OFFICES
The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) will open two new offices in the western division tomorrow to add to its existing offices in major towns and cities around the country.
FRCA chief executive officer Jitoko Tikolevu in an earlier interview said the opening of the new offices would assist greatly in providing its customers service at their doorstep.
“The western division continues to attract investors and tourists and by opening an office in the two towns there would greatly assist tourists and also the local businesses,” Tikolevu said.
“Rakiraki is important because it looks after the Ra province and businesses in Tavua and Vatukoula could use it. It will save unnecessary costs as businesses have to go all the way to Lautoka and this disrupts their businesses so the opening of the FIRCA office is a very positive step towards assisting these business houses and individuals including employers.”
For the past two years, FIRCA has been monitoring and evaluating the opening of the office in Rakiraki.
“As for Sigatoka, tourism is very big there and we need to be present strategically to be able to meet the demands of our clients,” Mr Tikolevu added.
“The hotel industry, agricultural exporters, commercial farmers and business houses along the Coral Coast would benefit and use the services provided at the office in Sigatoka which is located along the Queens Highway.”
He urged the tourism industry stakeholders in Sigatoka to use the office to explore and understand new tax regime and other incentives available to them.
The opening of the two offices tomorrow follows the opening of an office in Savusavu that looks after the whole of the Cakaudrove province including Taveuni and Namena Island.
Tikolevu said that their collections and other services have been well received from the business community in the Savusavu and Taveuni as well.
He said that the opening of the offices in Rakiraki and Sigatoka will assist FRCA’s work in providing not only tax and revenue service’s but also other services pertaining to finance.
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is expected to do the honours.
3 NORTHERN WOMEN THRIVE IN VANILLA FARMING
Naidi village in Cakaudrove is frequented by tourists and foreigners who are attracted to the aroma of vanilla. What started only 4 years ago, the Vanilla Farming Project for the village has now become a success for the Tabuvakasuka Women’s Group who pride themselves as vanilla farmers in the friendly north.
In 2009 Government provided a funding of $4000 to the Tabuvakasuka Women’s Group to start a vanilla farming project. This funding enabled five women to start their own vanilla farms with 100 vanilla plants on each of these farms.
Dr Jiko Luveni, as the Minister for Women, recently visited the women at their farms and was overwhelmed at their dedication towards vanilla farming and how its providing a sustainable income for these women and their families.
Tabuvakasuka Women’s Group president Mrs Leba Ligaiviu, informed the Minister on the increasing demand for vanilla.
“We sell vanilla beans to the tourists and the nearby hotels and resorts. It is a profitable business where we count the income in thousands. We are able to sell 200 kg to 400 kg vanilla and make good money,” she said.
Mrs Ligaiviu said that with vanilla farming, one needs to be patient as it usually takes 3 to 5 years to harvest.
“We do multi-cropping, we also plant vegetables, dalo, cassava and kava, as vanilla takes long time to harvest. My daughters help me to look after the farm, it’s easy to manage.”
She said that from her first harvest she has received very good price and she has plans to expand her vanilla farm.
“Out of the 100 plants, I harvested 30 plants through which I have earned more than $3500. I had never thought I can earn this much money so fast. The market is readily available and the major buyer is coral sun resort. I use the manual method to process the vanilla and also process products like Virgin Coconut Oil with vanilla, vanilla ice block with coconut cream.
“We are grateful to the Ministry of Women for helping us to start the vanilla farm which I can confidently say will make us millionaires one day,” Mrs Ligaiviu said.
Dr Luveni was impressed with the achievements of Tabuvakasuka Women’s Group and said her ministry will assist in the expansion of the vanilla farms.
“We would like to develop this as a model farm for vanilla and as such the Ministry would organize a study tour in northern division that will provide opportunity for other potential women groups to develop similar projects. Vanilla is a promising economic venture for women and Ministry will also look at providing training opportunities to see more women becoming successful vanilla farmers,” the Minister said.
4 TWO FIJIAN OFFICIALS OFFERED KOICA SCHOLARSHIP
Two Government officials will study in Korea under the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) Master Degree Program from February.
The two recipients of the scholarship are Ms Amelia Marama Nairoba, senior women interest officer from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, and Mr Vueti Kosoniu May a secondary school teacher from the Ministry of Education.
Ms Amelia Nairoba will participate on the ‘Master’s Degree Program in International Studies (Women and Development)’ at Ewha Womans University in Seoul from 4 February, 2013 to 15 June, 2014 along with 30 participants from 22 countries.
Mr Vueti May will pursue the ‘Master’s Degree Program in International Development’ at Graduate School of Korea University in Seoul from February 17th, 2013 to March 14th, 2014 along with 20 participants from 16 countries.
The expenses borne by KOICA will cover tuition fees of the programme, a round-trip air ticket, accommodation and meals during their stay in Korea.
The two were given their scholarships today by the Korean Ambassador to Fiji Hae-Wook Cheong.
Last year, Ms Keleni Tikomaisuva, Acting Principal Labour Officer of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment was awarded with the identical programme.
5 HEALTH AND SANITATION PRIORITY IN SQUATTER HOUSING
The Minister for Local Government Urban Development and Housing Samuela Saumatua visited Vatoa squatter settlement in Nasinu to inspect progress on works undertaken to provide proper sanitation for each of the households in the settlement.
New sanitary toilets have replaced pit latrines and water sealed toilets. As well, the settlement has sanitary facilities that connect the settlement to an established sewer system.
“We are living in urban communities, therefore we must treat sanitation as a public health priority,” the Minister said.
A similar sanitation program is being pursued by the Lami Town Council in Kalekana. These programs are operating in conjunction with the Town and City Councils.
The Ministry for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment reviewed work on squatter upgrading in towns and cities.
Meanwhile, Director for Housing, Mr Kolinio Bola highlighted that the City Wide Program is designed to address land tenure, provision of water, electricity, roads and sanitation.
“Home improvements are also considered but the onus in on the homeowner and that they are trying to work with financial institutions to secure affordable loans to facilitate home improvements.
Under the City Wide programs places like Kalekana, Lami, Nayawa Village area in Sigatoka and Taiperia [Natabua] in Lautoka alongside towns and the cities are now actively involved in the upgrade of housing in their own municipalities.