UFDF PRESS RELEASE – the Collapse of the Fiji Fishing Industry

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 9/2014]

[Jan 24, 2014]

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

And who might the members of this committee be? The same officials that have been unable to resolve the issue over the past 7 years and they will advise the Minister how he can resolve an issue they have failed to address in 7 years? Have any of the stake holders been asked for their opinions and input? A quick check yesterday revealed they have not been asked to be part of this Ministerial solution.

The UFDF said while courting China into funding its various projects [all loans no aid] the regime has ignored the fundamental problem that has caused this matter to ‘come to a head’ and that is the ongoing presence of 1,800 or so foreign fishing vessels with licenses issued by our island neighbors. A significant number of these vessels mainly from China operate in international waters surrounding Fiji and other Pacific Islands.

The UFDF said one does not have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to work out how long our fish will depleted when 1,800 foreign fishing vessels are catching our resources in our backyard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Not to mention the damage done to our reefs, our sea life by the trawlers. The loss of other types of seafood that get caught in the process as well as the waste and debris from these vessels.

The UFDF said what makes it even more ridiculous is that these foreign vessels are subsidized by up to $US350, 000 ($F662, 000) per vessel to cover costs, fuel, maintenance and they are the only vessels that can sell to China, our Fiji owned and operated vessels cannot sell their catch to China and not one of them are subsidized.

The UFDF say some of the blue painted Chinese subsidized vessels anchored in Suva Harbour can’t afford to operate even with their $F662, 000 subsidies it’s not too difficult to work out why our local boat operators are unable to sustain their operations.

The UFDF says it understands that a major scam is being perpetrated by foreign vessel operators against the Chinese government where operators are falsifying documents and logs of their catch to qualify for the generous subsidy, while remaining anchored. At least 20 officials are reported to have been executed in China for the scam.

The UFDF said none of the foreign vessels are known to hire local crew but if they did it was a minute number, so other than a license fee, there are no real benefits to the Island nations and the areas valuable fishing recourses is being depleted on a scale that will cause catastrophic failure because of the issuance of an excess of fishing licenses by upwards of 400%.

This the UFDF says is despite well researched and sustainable numbers of fishing licenses recommended to all island nations. The recommendations on limiting the issuance of licenses are being ignored for short term financial gain without any regard for the catastrophic long term consequences that will follow the current excesses in fishing of our resources.

The UFDF said the other part of the problem is the local mismanagement of the resource. In Fiji too many licenses have been issued and the resources’ have been depleted.

The problem has nothing to do with migratory fish or seasons it’s all to do with the mismanagement of resources.

The UFDF said the MSG has failed to adequately and prudently address this issue for the long term sustainable benefit of all the island nations and the current discord among the members over the West Papua issue will unlikely allow them to urgently resolve this major economic catastrophe currently unfolding in the region.

Authorized By                       UFDF

Pryde is spot-on

Speaking at the fourth National Anti-Money Laundering Conference in Suva the Solicitor General, Christopher Pryde, has at last said something worth listening to.

He told the assembled crime fighters: “Money laundering fuels corruption and organised crime and detection”. He might also have added that corruption and organised crime fuels money laundering.

He claims the regime he serves has done much to fight money laundering but we know it has also done much to fuel money laundering. The heavy-handed controls on foreign exchange have encouraged honest people who need to move money for legitimate purposes to resort to criminal channels.

If you have a credit card account overseas you have to seek permission to pay it with any hard-earned earnings you might have in Fiji. And then there’s a limit on how much you can pay per month. If you’re running a stall in the handicraft market the limit might not make much difference but if you’re running a business exporting handicrafts around the world it’s a joke.

The IMF has told the regime repeatedly to get rid of exchange controls because they deter investment. Why would people invest if it means any profits earned can’t be transferred out of the country without begging the regime for permission.

Some people are not deterred by this and this is a problem. Criminals don’t worry about such rules because they’re confident they can get around them by paying off officials.

The exchange control laws are a breeding ground for money laundering and corruption.

Is the Casino a victim of the Khaiyum clause?

A blogger called Casino Royale has been posting on blog sites the text of the Casino (Operator) Decree 2012.

Casino Royale says nothing about why he posted the decree but it seems it’s timed to coincide with the expected announcement by One Sands about their casino, which has failed to materialise on Denarau island.

It’s no secret the hold-up in the commencement is due to failure by Larry Claunch to nail down finance. And why would that be? Probably for the same reason that investment across the board in Bainimarama’s Fiji is held back – the Khaiyum clause is in almost every law and the fact that the court system is run by this megalomaniac as some kind of personal fiefdom.

In the Casino decree it comes in this form

“14. No court, tribunal, commission or any other adjudicating body shall have the jurisdiction to accept, hear,
determine, or in any other way entertain any challenge at law, in equity or otherwise (including any applications for
judicial review) by any person or body, or to award any compensation or grant any other remedy to any person or body in relation to –
(a) the validity or legality or propriety of this Decree;
(b) the validity or legality of the Licence or operation of the Company; or
(c) any decision of the Minister made under this Decree.
Consequential”

When financiers see this clause it’s a complete turn-off.

Anyone in the business world could tell Bainimarama the Khaiyum clause, taken with the way the court system operates, deters investment. But Bainimarama never gets to hear what businessmen really think because Khaiyum punishes anyone who speaks out.

AIYAZ SAIYED KHAIYUM LACKS CREDIBILITY – The Law Society of England and Wales has credibility – CFDFiji.org

The alleged Attorney General of Fiji, Saiyed Khaiyum, has in his time made many grotesque and bizarre allegations. Yet none in any way parallels his assertion that the recently expressed view of the Law Society of England and Wales as to the lack of independence of the Fiji judiciary shows that that Society has no credibility.

It is not the Society, but Khaiyum, who has no credibility. His adamant insistence that the Fiji judiciary is independent, in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary, is tiresome and repetitive – repeating a lie ad infinitum does not make it true.

Khaiyum attacks the English Law Society for its comments made ‘from thousands of miles away.’ It is indeed true that England is thousands of miles away from Fiji; however the views of the Society are based upon an on the spot inspection carried out in Fiji itself. That on the spot investigation had perforce to be carried out incognito because to openly approach Khaiyum would simply elicit the same discredited blandishments he has been uttering over the years as to the alleged independence of the Fiji judiciary, and would enable him to bar all doors of enquiry to stop any information being elicited from his terrified staff.

Further, the views of the English Law Society match those of the Australian and New Zealand Law Societies – does Khaiyum also say that those institutions are discredited? If that is so he would be well advised promptly to surrender whatever certificates or qualifications he procured from any of such jurisdictions.

The fact that the Fiji judiciary is not independent has in any event been confirmed from a multitude of sources including outgoing staff and most recently in the Marshall petition. Judges content to remain in Fiji cannot of course open their mouths and in any event they have taken oaths acceptable to the current regime and are on its payroll.

Khaiyum should now apologise to the Law Society of England and Wales for uttering offensive nonsense in his attack on it.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

Dictator Bainimarama announces review of oppressive Decrees – A ploy to hood-wink the US Government – CFDFiji.org

Fiji’s military dictator remains under siege 24 hours before the hearing commences in the United States against Fiji for breach of  labour rights and standards arising out of the rogue decrees of Aiyaz Sayed  Khaiyum – the  insalubrious Attorney General.

Frank has been left holding the can and is now trying to lie his way out of trouble.

This afternoon the besieged leader managed to raise enough courage to announce the immediate review of the labour laws that contravene (34) international standards. He appeared in a TV ONE news bulletin looking rather perturbed from the looming crisis and attempted to explain the steps being taken to remedy the breach for which Fiji faces US sanctions.

The Fiji village website reported that;

The prime minister has revealed that as part of Fiji’s progress toward establishing parliamentary democracy, the government is reviewing current labour laws to ensure their compliance with the 34 International Labour Organisation conventions that Fiji has ratified”.

The regime leader has finally succumbed to the truth that several decrees his tainted Attorney General has promulgated threaten Fiji with the most serious employment crisis ever, involving 39 companies and 15,000 – 36,000 jobs. It appears that the rattled leader has been forced to make this conciliatory announcement and it may well be more of his typical trickery and lies.

The CFDF wishes to remind the people of Fiji, the trade union leaders and the US government of some of the previous broken promises and pledges of the regime leader and which render this review process meaningless and untrustworthy – it must be treated with grave suspicion.

Following the 2006 coup, Bainimarama vowed to preserve the 1997 constitution under the President’s mandate and subsequently included this in the People’s Charter – he later trashed the Constitution. He also made a personal commitment to the Pacific Forum leaders to hold Elections in March 2009 and later broke that promise.

He promised to be accountable and yet refuses to release the Auditor General’s report on government accounts from 2007 – 2011. He publicly stated that he will only collect the Commander’s salary while holding the position of interim Prime Minister but secretly receives multiple salaries, paid privately through Nur Bano’s Accounting firm in Suva – the details of which he refuses to disclose to the taxpayers of Fiji.

With such an impeccable record in keeping his word; should the US government and the trade union leaders dare consider the review process as free, fair and transparent?  The regime leader’s public record is as poor as his ability to separate issues of national importance from the corrosive influence of his attorney general’s ego and tantrums.

Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum – the author of so many lies and Decrees, remains silent.

The CFDF urges the Trade Union Leaders not to fall victim again to the lies and dishonesty of Bainimarama – he has no credibility or integrity. The latest knee-jerk reaction comes from international and domestic pressure and is merely a ploy to escape the scrutiny of on-going abuse of labor rights, human rights and the other fundamental rights of Fiji Citizens.

The Unions in Fiji must insist that all decrees identified by the ILO and the ICFTU must be immediately rescinded.

Further, the tainted Attorney General must be ejected from Office. He is the source of most of Fiji’s political and constitutional problems. The review process does not go far enough. It lacks goodwill, competence and commitment to deal with the issues in a holistic manner.

Bainimarama must do the right thing if the jobs are to be saved.  The decrees and its author must be removed from public life permanently to allow for genuine dialogue at all levels.

The workers of Fiji deserve nothing less.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

US Sanctions on the Generalized System of Preferences Scheme – Bainimarama’s Appeal to Trade Union leaders – CFDFiji.org

While speaking in Lautoka on Saturday as reported in the Fiji Sun of (30/9), Dictator Bainimarama made his eleventh hour appeal on the union leaders against the looming US sanction that will end the duty free market access into the US. His unconvincing and pedantic decries can be best described as; ‘barking up the wrong tree’. He repeated the ridiculous claim blaming the union leaders for the impending sanction when the problem lies within his defunct regime.

The Regime’s blame game continues.

Simply put, the imminent US sanction cannot be attributed to any of the union leaders in any possible manner. The regime leader is emulating the proverbial ostrich the only difference being, instead of the sand, his head is deeply buried in the lies of his disgraced Attorney General.

The truth of the matter is that the Essential Services Decree blatantly violates international labor principles and standards, which is the only reason for the US sanctions. So, if the US government requires these standards be met by Fiji, how is it the fault of the union leaders? Like Fiji, Iraq is also facing the same sanction, so are there people like Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai in Iraq too? The perplexed Bainimarama ought to research issues of such nature to avoid making himself appear a complete fool.

For the purpose of clarity and emphasis, we repeat the following from a joint letter signed by Sharon Burrow, General Secretary International Trade Union Confederation on December 2 2011 to Bainimarama. In her comprehensive letter, Ms Burrow explained in great detail how the Essential Services Decree was in breach of the international labour standards, which if not withdrawn, would result in consequences in the future. Given Bainimarama’s limitations he must have ignored the letter and accepted the assurance from his Attorney General. Today he finds himself caught between the rock and a hard place. Bainimarama had the benefit of good counsel which he paid no heed to and we quote as follows:-

“The Fiji government has issued several decrees that sharply curtail fundamental labor rights in both the public and private sectors. Some of the decrees also eliminate all access to judicial review and redress for past, present, and future violations of those rights or to question the legality of the decrees themselves. These sweeping changes were made without any prior consultation with the relevant trade unions. These decrees include: State Services Decree of 2009 (No. 6); Administration of Justice Decree of 2009 (Decree No. 9); Administration of Justice (Amendment) Decree of 2009 (Decree No. 10); Administration of Justice (Amendment) Decree of 2010 (Decree No. 14); Trade Disputes Decree of 2009 (Decree No. 10); Employment Relations Amendment Decree of 2011 (Decree No. 21); Public Service Act (Amendment) 2011; and the Essential Industries Decree of 2011.

On May 16, 2011, your government promulgated the Employment Relations Amendment Decree which amended the Employment Relations Promulgation of 2007 to exclude all public service workers from the scope of its’ coverage. Thus, roughly 15,000 workers in Fiji’s public service were divested of their important labor rights available under that law, such as collective bargaining and the right to strike, overnight.

On July 29, the government promulgated the Essential Industries Decree, which divested most private sector workers in key industries of their rights. As explained by the ILO Director General Juan Somavia, the decree has “very far reaching implications” including the “ending of existing collective agreements, the designation of new bargaining agents which may not be trade unions, and the possible imposition of compulsory arbitration of disputes and other limits on the right to strike.

Implementing regulations issued on September 9, 2011 subsequently designated the finance, telecoms, civil aviation, and public utilities sectors as essential and purports to allow the military government to include any other industries as and when it wishes.[11]

Together, these decrees are widely viewed as a direct attack on the independent trade union movement, among the strongest voices in Fijian civil society.

In the five years since you assumed power through extra-constitutional means, few steps have been taken to restore the right of Fiji Islanders to participate fully and freely in the governance of their own country. Rather than embracing the important role that civil society, human rights defenders, and trade unions play in good governance, your government has systematically repressed such groups. As international human rights, labor, and press organizations, we urge you to commit publicly to your international human rights obligations and take all necessary measures to protect human rights in Fiji.”

The letter stated – we urge your government to:
  1. Immediately repeal the Public Emergency Regulations – as your government has undertaken to do on several occasions;
  2. Repeal the Media Industry Development Decree, remove government censors from news rooms, and encourage international press organizations to work with the Fiji media to establish a mechanism for self-regulation;
  3. Revise all labor decrees, including the Employment Relations Amendment Decree of 2011 and the Essential Industries Decree of 2011, through a tri-partite process, to ensure compliance with your international obligations to the ILO;
  4. Publicly order security personnel to uphold human rights, in particular fair trial and due process rights, the prohibition on torture, and the right to free assembly and association;
  5. Investigate and prosecute all security force personnel who engage in arbitrary arrest and detention, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, and physical abuse of detainees; and
  6. Publicly commit to an expedited timetable for elections, implementing the right of all Fiji Islanders to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives and to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections.

On Tuesday, 2nd October 2012, Fiji will be facing hearing in the United States that most likely will end the duty free access for 39 companies. 15,000 to 36,000 jobs may disappear completely and all the regime leaders can do is to continue the blame game and play victim when it is the reckless Essential Services Decree that will decimate jobs and industries – an undeniable fact which the regime leader is too afraid to admit.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS LOOMING – How the Essential Services Decree will eliminate 15,000 jobs – CFDFiji.org

Those watching events in Fiji will have come to the conclusion a long time ago that the issuing of decrees by the regime is an informal affair. These ‘laws’ are promulgated with minimal forethought and usually with the best interests of the regime leaders and their sycophants in mind.

So it was with the Essential Services Decree which, quite justifiably has stirred up the International Labour Movement. We heard on Fiji TV last night from David Voss that, due to US sanctions we will be losing 15,000 jobs in the very near future. What David failed to mention was that this is due to the above mentioned Essential Services Decree.

39 Companies presently exporting into US through duty free markets will lose this benefit after the 2nd October hearing in the US which is likely to go against Fiji unless the Decree is withdrawn instantly. Keeping silent over the matter will not resolve the crisis and if the Attorney General is standing in the way of saving the jobs, he must be ejected from the Office.

The CFDFiji calls on the regime to immediately repeal this malformed and self serving piece of ‘legislation’ to avoid this further disastrous calamity for our already struggling economy. Having asked this we feel sure that due to the personalities of the individuals involved they will not heed this request – it would seen to be an admission of failure and a loss of face. No other adverse impacts would be felt by the poor and needy in Fiji.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

Fjiileaks website joins blog ranks to take on illegal regime in Fiji

Fijileaks: You could sent to it confidential documents: fijileakseditor@gmail.com

Fijileaks: It also means since the 2006 coup Fiji has been sinking deeper and deeper into mess

Cartoon: It speaks for itself – dictator trying to keep afloat from the mess he has created since 2006

The Crumpled Document: It reveals his fraudulent back-pay of $185,000.

There are many others in his back-pocket – to be revealed soon on Fijileaks

Keep blogging on Fiji Today.

Vinaka vakalevu, to all.

Read on:

http://www.fijileaks.weebly.com

http://www.fijileaks.weebly.com/blog

YASH GHAI STUMBLES: Fiji Constitutional Review at Crisis Point – CFDFiji.org

The Council for a Democratic Fiji has the highest respect for the intellectual brilliance and integrity of the Chairman of the Fiji Constitutional Review Commission, Yash Ghai.

Notwithstanding this, however, the Council is constrained now to make known its belief that the work carried out by him in Fiji has run into a blind alley, and that he ought to have anticipated that this would happen.

Yash Ghai: Having second thoughts.

For the current regime, the making available by himself of Yash Ghai was indeed a major coup – to use that word colloquially. Here was an internationally respected figure who could give the regime’s Constitutional ambitions and processes a clear appearance of being pursued in good faith, notwithstanding the reality of the situation in Fiji.

For Yash Ghai, however, his acceptance of the role of Chairman has in the Council’s submission now resulted in him being placed in an impossible situation potentially prejudicial to his good
name and reputation.

The Council wrote to Yash Ghai at the time of his acceptance of the Chairmanship warning him regarding the true intentions of the Fiji regime, but to no avail. The fruits of his acceptance of the
Chairmanship are however now emerging.

There are two matters upon which the Council would focus, namely the minimal numbers of those coming forward to make submissions, already noted by Yash Ghai himself, and the issue of  the stipulation by the alleged Attorney General that a priority in drafting the new Constitution should be for amnesty for those participating in coups- such as the alleged Attorney General
himself.

As to numbers coming forward, Yash Ghai has very correctly stated his view that many will not come forward because of fear, and he is now going back to the head of the Army and alleged Prime Minister to seek assurances in this regard.

With respect, Yash Ghai should have anticipated this major problem well before he accepted the post of Chairman. He is very familiar with Fiji and has been engaged by the regime previously.

Amnesty International has been very critical of the regime.

 

The truth is, and has been since 2006, that Fiji is under a reign of terror. It is not so dramatic and visible as, for example in the case of Syria, but it is a reign of terror nonetheless. That reign of terror is not expressed simply in terms of the innumerable repressive and draconian decrees imposed by the alleged Attorney General since 2006, immunising the Army and alleged Government from scrutiny or challenge, and destroying basic human rights. It is also a de facto state of affairs which needs no written law to support it .

The Law Society of the UK has condemned the regime.

The factual absence of the Rule of Law and lack of independence of the judiciary is but one aspect of this issue. The unpunished beatings, rapes and killings perpetrated by the regime, the tapping of all communications, the omnipresence of spies and quislings to monitor the public are other aspects. Basically the Army can and does do whatever it wants without let or hindrance. The regime is, as the Australian Foreign Minister recently pointed out militarised and there is no prospect of return to barracks. The entire population is muzzled.

The above factors show why the Fiji ‘popularity’ survey done last year and purporting to show popular support for the regime was a farce. The public whom Yash Ghai wishes to hear from is very aware of this and that the regime cannot and will not tolerate dissent or expression of dissenting views. How then does he expectit to co-operate with him?

Human rights abuses and politically motivated intimidation continues.

It is the Head of the Army and alleged Prime Minister who has been orchestrating the abuses mentioned. What point is there then in seeking any assurance from him? His credibility as per past broken promises is zero. He himself has even personally assaulted women prisoners and stated that those who disagree with him ought to be taken up to the Army barracks. What person is this for Yash Ghai to be dealing with?

No doubt, the alleged Prime Minister may utter whatever words he wishes to silence Yash Ghai’s concerns, but such will not be worth the breath with which they are spoken or the paper on which they are written. Like considerations apply to assurances by the alleged Attorney General, Foreign Minister or other agents of the regime.

Submitters to the Review will know full well that the Regime will find out the fact and nature of their submissions and react accordingly – if not now, in the future, after the glow of the Review has died and Yash Ghai is no longer around to complain. In this regard, the practice of the regime in harassing the relations of those whom it dislikes would no doubt be continued.

Even if there is now a temporary lull in harassment, such is a chimera. The regime will tighten the cords of strangulation of free speech whenever it pleases. There are of course some whose submissions the regime would embrace, such as those of Akuila Yabaki. The reasons for such attitude are clear. They are admirers of the regime.

Turning to the issue of amnesty, the alleged Attorney General seeks priority for insertion of same into the Constitution. This is small wonder because he himself has committed the capital offence of treason and has endorsed the malpractices of the alleged Prime Minister.

The request is of course outrageous and any amnesty even if inserted into an alleged new Constitution would have no validity. Any truly democratic Government taking power in the future would no doubt incarcerate the alleged Attorney General for a long time.

The Council is of the view that the above occurrences have now placed Yash Ghai in an impossible situation, and respectfully calls upon him to relinquish his current role. Yash Ghai must now cease to lend credence to the charade of Review being played out by the Fiji regime, and of which he has inadvertently become a participant. This can only be achieved by his resignation as Chairman.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
14th August 2012
Cfdfiji.org

Business hazards in Fiji for New Zealand companies – CFDFiji.org

An overview by the Council for a Democratic Fiji

As the Fiji New Zealand Business Council prepares for its June 16th meeting, the Council for a Democratic Fiji (CFDFiji) issues a strong warning about the considerable risks of investing in Fiji.

On the surface, the environment for business in the coup-stricken country might appear to have some appeal. The people of Fiji are as friendly as ever and the military regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama makes a lot of noise about its pro-investment policies. Bainimarama and his No 1 collaborator, Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum, the Attorney General and Minister for Commerce, regularly pump out propaganda dishonestly painting a picture of a buoyant economy on a strong growth path. This is what will happen at the business council meeting.

Delegates will be told that Fiji is “moving forward”, “modernizing” and “reforming” and that commercial opportunities abound. They may hear that a “truly democratic” future beckons and that elections are scheduled for late 2014. There is wide scepticism, however, about whether Bainimarama is willing to relinquish power in a free poll.

Any business person conducting a proper due diligence on Fiji designed to protect shareholders and their capital, will uncover a very hazardous landscape, full of potential pitfalls and some unpalatable truths.

The reality is that Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum run a dictatorship that was declared unlawful by Fiji’s Court of Appeal. This was before Bainimarama sacked all the country’s judges and installed a new hand-picked judiciary that has been denounced as lacking independence by many credible international authorities. A recent investigation by an affiliate organization of the Law Society of the United Kingdom found that the rule of law no longer operates.

This is a crucial issue for all New Zealand investors and firms involved with Fiji. It is just one of the many reasons that an increasing number of prudent business owners and managers from New Zealand treat the country with extreme caution.

Since 2006 when Bainimarama executed a military coup, he and Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum have led Fiji into an unprecedented spiral of decline. They have propped themselves up by severe and brutal abuse of human rights and suppressive “decrees” to control and intimidate the population.

More than 200 of these dubious legal devices have been imposed since April 2009 covering a host of topics and issues. These are no more lawful than the regime itself.

Social conditions have worsened dramatically. It is estimated that the percentage of Fiji’s population living in poverty has increased to 35 per cent. Suicides are on the rise and child malnutrition is a problem.

The economy is in a negative cycle, meaning that for much of Bainimarama’s time as “prime minister” it has actually gone backwards. It has not even returned to where it was in 2006.

Recently a respected economist at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Professor Biman Prasad, caused a stir when he spoke of the kind of woeful statistics of failure the regime does not like to hear. He declared that the medium-term outlook was not encouraging. Professor Prasad cited Asian Development Bank figures on the ratio of private investment to GDP. This was put at only two per cent for 2011 which underscores abysmally low levels of confidence.

The response from the regime was to roll out a propaganda blitz claiming that Fiji could expect investments in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The people of Fiji have been told similar stories before. The Reserve Bank suddenly announced an upward revision in its immediate growth projections, higher than the impartial forecast of the ADB.

As usual Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum are staying quiet about some of the current international disclosures which further damage Fiji’s reputation and give the lie to their claims about business friendly policies and transparency.

The International Open Budget Survey, which measures budget transparency and accountability around the world, placed Fiji at the bottom of a list of 94 countries. It was bracketed with Iraq, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. This means there is scant budget information available in terms of expenditure, income, capital projects, infrastructure and controls. The long-suffering taxpayers really have no idea how their money is used. There is fertile ground here for corruption and mismanagement.

During the tenure of the last elected government the Word Bank Group ranked Fiji 35 out of 155 countries for ease of doing business. Under Bainimarama, Fiji has dropped down the scorecard, underlining Fiji’s lack of appeal for investors. In 2012 it has been listed at 77 out of 183 economies, down five places from its ranking in 2011. In the category of starting a business, Fiji went from 105 to 119.

The perception of Fiji as an extremely risky investment location was illustrated very clearly last year when the government had to pay nine percent interest to purchasers of an international bond floated by the regime. This put it into the junk bond category.

In the area of enforcing contracts Fiji has also slipped. The notion of sanctity of contracts as an essential prerequisite for all investors appears to have been abandoned by Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum.

A business which has entered into any contract with the dictatorship should be aware that its position can be compromised at any time leaving it without redress and its shareholders exposed. This raises clear accountability issues for directors and managements of New Zealand companies engaged with Fiji. Recently, for instance, a decree has been used to cancel contracts for commercial concessions at Nadi International Airport.

The trend is spreading; there are allegations that employment contracts at a university are not being honoured.

Another notorious decree has trashed pension contracts. Pensioners have been left with no legal recourse.

Earlier, legislation interfered with private commercial rights at two tourism projects.

Qantas has found itself at the receiving end of an Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum decree that has affected its role as a shareholder in Fiji’s national airline Air Pacific.

The national debt is high – with contingent liabilities it may be well over 80 per cent of Fiji’s GDP. It is difficult to get a precise picture. But any prudent analysis must take into account the prospects of the regime defaulting on its payments to creditors. A recurring theme in private conversations among Fiji citizens is that the regime is essentially broke. This “coconut wireless” communication is often accurate.

The erratic and arbitrary nature of the Fiji legislative environment is one of the greatest challenges for commerce.

Price control, for instance, has been imposed at whim on thousands of consumer products. Bainimarama has ignored advice from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, to get rid of this form of regulation because it is a disincentive for investment.

Decrees are not made in line with any cohesive strategy or by any proper process of open consultation. These are normally considered in secret and then simply announced.

Rule by decree means statutes that affect business can be drastically altered without any right of appeal or review. A recent example relates to the huge restrictions on company claims for losses for tax purposes enacted because of the regime’s financial plight. Another is the manner in which Bainimarama designates at will what he chooses to call essential industries.

When a functioning democracy and constitutional rule are restored, all financial and commercial transactions with the regime will be subjected to scrutiny by parliament. Whether they will be honored is a moot point.

This should concentrate the minds of members of the Fiji New Zealand Business Council.


Council for a Democratic Fiji

17th June 2012
CFDFiji.org

Please refer to the following link for more information and a copy of this media release.

DOING BUSINESS WITH FIJI – Be very careful with an untrustworthy regime, warns CFDFiji – CFDFiji.org

The Council For A Democratic Fiji (CFDFiji) urges the Pacific Islands Forum to be extremely vigilant in tracking the performance of the Fiji regime in its constitutional review process leading up to elections supposedly to be held in 2014.

The recent visit by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) was useful. It forced the regime to make clear public commitments and answer questions it does not normally have to face.

We understand the desire of the MCG to be positive about its re-engagement with the regime. But the CFDFiji warns that this should not blind it to the devious and untrustworthy nature of the dictatorship. It is known for breaking promises.

It was significant that Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama made no attempt to return from one of his expensive overseas trips to meet with the visiting ministers. This lays bare the hypocrisy of his oft-repeated calls for greater engagement with Australia and New Zealand. There was an opportunity for him to engage with both countries and explain his regime’s roadmap to elections. But he chose to stay away and leave the talking to his Attorney General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was visibly agitated and peeved when the ministers met with a diverse group of stakeholders, including opponents of the regime. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had tried unsuccessfully to exercise some control over the people and organisations with whom the ministers would consult. His idea of dialogue is for him to indulge in a monologue.

The CFDFiji strongly endorses the statement by the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Bob Carr, that sanctions against the regime, will only be lifted when a free, fair and credible election takes place. Any attempt by Commodore Bainimarama and the Attorney General to gerrymander the outcome will be noted and condemned by the international community. Further sanctions will follow.

The truth of the situation in Fiji is that the environment is still not right for an open and free discussion on constitutional issues. Despite the regime’s claims that the way is now clear for consultations, significant obstacles remain.

The CFDFiji joins with many other major groups in demanding that oppressive, punitive and anti- democratic decrees should be immediately removed. These curtail freedom of assembly, speech and the media and deny justice.

The offending laws include the Media Decree, Essential Industries Decree, Public Order Amendment Decree, State Services Decree and all other Decrees that limit full access to legal rights. If these are not lifted the public participatory dialogue required for a legitimate constitutional process will not be possible.

Professor Yash Ghai, chair of the newly-formed Constitutional Commission knows this. So he now has some decisions to make.

The CFDFiji, like other key stakeholder groups, believes the 1997 Constitution is still in existence. Any constitutional review, therefore, should be based on the 1997 supreme law.

A civilian government must be appointed to guide the review process and manage the elections. This takes on added importance in light of revelations that the Military is considering forming a political party. Commodore Bainimarama has not denied this.

We support the call by the leaders of Fiji’s principal political parties, the SDL, the Fiji Labour Party and the United Peoples Party, for a referendum to be held on the result of the constitutional dialogue.

The regime’s proposed Constituent Assembly to decide on the constitution, will be undemocratic and susceptible to manipulation and control.

Serious issues remain about the continuing involvement of members of the Military in numerous strategic areas of government. This means large sections of the administrative machinery are controlled by Military officers. Their ultimate loyalty is not to the civil service but to their military commander, Commodore Bainimarama.

This militarisation of government was commented on by the MCG. The Group would like it to come to an end.

In recent interview, however, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum indicated that he could see nothing wrong with army officers continuing to serve in government.

This is a very clear indication of his warped view of politics and governance issues. It is also self-serving. He knows the army officer corps is united in its dislike of him and want him out of the regime. He may feel that a statement supporting the military role in the public service will work in his favour.

 

Secretary
Council for a Democratic Fiji
5th May 2012
CFDFiji.org

Please refer to the following link for a copy of this media release.

Media Release – Letter to His Hon. Bob Carr with submissions in relation to his upcoming visit to Fiji – CFDFiji.org

Hon Bob Carr
Foreign Minister
Government of Australia
Canberra ACT
AUSTRALIA

By email

27th April 2012

Dear Minister

RE: YOUR PENDING VISIT TO FIJI

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council for a Democratic Fiji, to seek to emphasise certain vital issues which the Council would respectfully request you to consider during your meetings with representatives of the Fiji regime.

You will no doubt recall the submission recently made by the Council to the Ministerial Action Group of the Commonwealth, and you may also recall the previous submission by the Council to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at the end of last year. I take the liberty of attaching, for ease of reference, the submission to the Group. That submission sets out the credentials of the Council and evidences its legitimate concerns regarding current events in Fiji, and also shows its representative nature as representing a broad range of interests in Fiji including those of the majority political parties engaged in the last democratically held General Election in Fiji, the Fiji Democracy Movements worldwide including those in Australia and New Zealand, and the Fiji unions and Churches. The submission also annexes the Council’s previous submission to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

For present purposes, I seek to focus upon the issue of the process of consultation regarding Constitutional change offered by the current regime, which process I understand to be scheduled to commence next month. No doubt, the regime would seek your support for that process and acceptance of its legitimacy.

However, as the Council made clear in its submissions, especially that to the Ministerial Action Group, the climate in Fiji, created and deliberately persisted in by the current regime, is wholly unconducive to and indeed inimicable towards the holding of free and democratic consultations.

It is clearly understood from study of the published decision of the Ministerial Action Group that the Group is of like view.

Assurances, promises and blandishments by the regime as to how the consultation will be conducted are in the Council’s view wholly inadequate to allay legitimate concerns regarding the issue of consultations being free and democratic, especially having regard to the past conduct of the regime and the maintenance by the Army of a firm grip upon the people of Fiji.

It is understood that it is the above consideration which has led Australia and New Zealand both to decline to mitigate current sanctions imposed upon Fiji solely by reference to assurances, promises and blandishments by the regime.

For the above reason, the Council respectfully repeats and re emphasises its viewpoint expressed to the Ministerial Action Group that consultation should only occur upon satisfaction by the regime of the following conditions precedent, whose fulfillment would be absolutely necessary to ensure that the climate of discussion would be free, fair and frank:

  1. (I)  Rescission of the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012 and its non replacement;
  2. (II)  Rescission of Decrees immunising public officials from public discussion;
  3. (III)  Removal of the Army and security forces from public places;
  4. (IV)  Rescission of all Decrees hamstringing or prejudicing the basic freedoms of expression, communication and assembly;
  5. (V)  Rescission of all restrictions upon leaders of parties which participated in the last democratic election which violate their freedom of expression, communication and assembly and also their rights of movement.

Above are the views already expressed to the Ministerial Action Group.

Further, in regard to item (v), the Council would wish that the leaders of parties which participated in the last democratic election be at liberty without let or hindrance to participate fully in the consultation process.

The Council would further wish that no restrictions be placed by the regime upon the publicising of submissions made during the process of consultation, and that no outcomes be visited upon the makers of same.

The Council respectfully requests that above considerations be paid regard to during your meetings with representatives of the regime.

Sincerely

 

Roko Uluilakeba Mara
For Council for a Democratic Fiji

For this document and further documents, please see the following link for hard copies of same.

 

Bainimarama republic – The New Zealand Herald

By Andrew Laxon

An unlikely secret mission reveals how military power has overturned the country’s rule of law. Andrew Laxon reports

English lawyer Nigel Dodds was able to tell the truth as he passed through Customs on his way into Fiji last November. The 62-year-old semi-retired solicitor from Morpeth, Northumbria, was in the middle of a long-planned world trip, so he ticked tourism as the primary reason for his visit. However, the chairman of the English-based Law Society Charity was really on an undercover mission to determine first-hand whether the rule of law had collapsed in Fiji, as reports had claimed.

The evidence looked damning enough. Since Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in 2006, lawyers who question the military Government’s actions have been rounded up and tortured. The entire judiciary was sacked in 2009 and the Government has ruled by decree since then. However international observers who tried to report on the problems have been turned away.

Dodds thought he might have more luck with a low-key approach. He figured no one would take too much notice of “an elderly gentleman tottering round the world” so, with the help of a few advance phone calls, he worked his way round the main island, Viti Levu, chatting to current and former judges and lawyers in a series of clandestine meetings in bars, restaurants and coffee shops. (Fiji’s public emergency regulations banned any meeting of more than three people without a permit.)

He tapped the brains of the British High Commission and international agencies working in Fiji and tried less successfully to get the views of ordinary Fijians, who were reluctant to speak out.

His report, published last week, was unequivocal. Fiji is effectively a dictatorship, with no rule of law, no democracy, no freedom of expression and no legal way for citizens to challenge Government decisions. Dodds sees little hope in the short-term, as the military has the power to suppress virtually all dissent and rewards those who support it. But he believes other nations can and must speak up against Bainimarama’s abuse of power, as ordinary Fijians can no longer do so.

Under the decree system, courts cannot rule on Government decisions in any way. Notices on courtroom walls remind lawyers and judges not to go down this track and if any cases do slip through the net, the Government-appointed chief registrar can simply terminate them.

“Given you’ve got no right of assembly, you’ve got a controlled press, there’s no way legally to challenge the Government,” he told the Weekend Herald this week from his home in England.

“Even people sticking up minor graffiti are charged with sedition. That’s actually happening… It’s absolutely monstrous.”

Fiji’s legal and political problems date back to 1987, when Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka led an abortive coup in May, followed by a successful attempt in September. Rabuka, who later became Prime Minister, changed the constitution to guarantee indigenous Fijians dominance in Government. Despite this, an Indo-Fijian-dominated Labour Party headed by Mahendra Chaudhry managed to win power in 1997. It was overthrown in 2000 by George Speight, who occupied Parliament and held the government MPs hostage for 56 days.

Witnesses say Bainimarama wanted the military to take over then, but was persuaded to allow the formation of a new Government, headed by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. After two coup attempts, which failed when senior officers refused to support him, Bainimarama seized power in December 2006 and suspended Parliament, which has not sat since.

According to a comprehensive 2009 report by the International Bar Association Human Rights Association – compiled from phone interviews because the group was not allowed to visit – judges soon became the victims of a series of attacks and intimidation. Justice Gordon Ward’s home was burned down while he was on holiday. The suspected arson was never investigated. Justice Gerard Winter’s car was sabotaged by the removal of key mechanical components, which could have resulted in a serious accident. Justice Roger Coventry was reportedly followed by military officers after he made a ruling awarding costs against the interim Attorney-General. The report said lawyers who spoke against the Government were taken from their homes late at night, detained in military barracks and subjected to violence.

The entire judiciary was gradually replaced with judges willing to do the regime’s bidding. Within days of the coup, Justice Daniel Fatiaki, who had provided legal advice to Bainimarama’s opponents in the 2000 Speight coup, was forcibly removed from office on questionable charges.

He was replaced by Justice Anthony Gates, who had previously supported upholding the constitution in defiance of the 2000 coup. By this time however, Gates’ reputation was severely tarnished – overseas-based judges on Fiji’s Court of Appeal found he told guests at a cocktail party that he would “put away” a prominent chief, Ratu Takiveikata, on criminal charges relating to the coup. The three New Zealand and Australian judges who ordered a retrial found Gates lied under oath when he denied in court that he had made the statement.

At the end of 2007, six New Zealand and Australian judges resigned from Fiji’s Court of Appeal, apparently because they felt they could no longer work with the military regime. Other judges resigned or let their appointments lapse in 2008, some explicitly blaming the regime for their decision.

When three Australian judges on the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision in April 2009 and declared the coup unlawful, the Government simply sacked all the judges and began ruling by decree.

Dodds’ report says Chief Justice Gates has since used his personal connections to recruit large numbers of judges from Sri Lanka on short-term but renewable contracts. It says the quality is seen as variable and independence from the regime must be difficult.

The report says newly qualified lawyers and recent Sri Lankan imports make up the bulk of staff at the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Four directors have been sacked or replaced since April 2009. The current director is former Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde, a barrister in Christchurch until 2007, who this week described Dodds’ report as spreading “false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the country’s judicial system”.

Dodds says he deliberately spoke to a range of people, from supporters to opponents of the regime.

He rejects the argument, sometimes put up by the regime’s supporters in New Zealand, that Bainimarama has done the country a favour, even if his methods are a little harsh.

“That’s been the excuse of most dictators, that they are actually making things better for the people and running things more efficiently.”

In a comparison guaranteed to end any prospect of a return visit, he adds: “Mussolini made the trains run on time.”

Blow by blow

December 2006:
Military commander Frank Bainimarama seizes control in a coup. He suspends Parliament, which has not sat since.
2007-08:
Senior judges and lawyers are subjected to attacks and intimidation, including torture and suspected arson and sabotage. The Chief Justice is removed from office but after two years all charges are dropped and he receives a $275,000 settlement.
2007:
New Zealand and Australian judges on Fiji’s Court of Appeal find the new Chief Justice has lied on oath.
March 2009:
The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute produces a scathing report on the collapse of the rule of law in Fiji.
April 2009:
Australian judges on the Court of Appeal overturn a finding by local High Court judges that the coup was legal. The military government sacks all judges and begins to rule by decree. It bans any meeting of more than three people under public order regulations.
November 2011:
English lawyer Nigel Dodds visits Fiji on a secret fact-finding mission.
January-March 2012:
Public order regulations are suspended but fresh decrees and arrests occur. Elections – originally set down for 2009 – remain promised for 2014.

Please see the following link to the original article on the NZ Herald Website.

NZ and Australia must maintain sanctions against Fiji Military Regime – CFDFiji.org

Canberra: Saturday 10th March 2012

The Council for a Democratic Fiji (CFDFiji) urges the Australian and New Zealand governments to maintain their sanctions against the regime of the Fijian dictator Commodore Fank Bainimarama. These should only be lifted when free and fair elections are conducted under Fiji’s current constitution. The credibility of the poll must be confirmed by the international community including the Commonwealth, UN, the European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum.

It would be a grave mistake for sanctions to be withdrawn when Fiji is still under the heel of a dictatorship that is suppressing the rights of the populace. Such a policy switch would serve to strengthen Commodore Bainimarama’s hold on Fiji. It would be used as propaganda to serve his mission of holding on to power at any cost.

The constitutional consultation programme announced by Commodore Bainimarama yesterday is clearly to be an exercise in pro-regime propaganda, manipulation and control. The process is biased in his favour. All this was to be expected. One piece of prime evidence is that two of the appointees to an important constitutional commission are Bainimarama supporters. The other is the academic supervisor for a controversial thesis on Fijian culture and tradition by Commodore Bainimarama’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

No details have been given of the method of appointment of a constituent assembly in January next year. Given the way he normally operates, Commodore Bainimarama will keep a tight grip on membership.

He is so confident of the outcome of the constitutional consultations that he has already predicted in a Sky news propaganda interview that he would win the next election – if it takes place. That sort of prediction from a dictator sends a message that he will ensure the electoral system he finally approves will work for him and his supporters.

There was no attempt by Commodore Bainimarama to engage in good-faith dialogue with political parties and other stakeholders to reach consensus on the framework for the consultations. A bi- partisan approach would have created public confidence. Instead, Commodore Bainimarama simply imposed his wishes on the country.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully was right in saying that the announcement itself did not provide justification for removing sanctions. Bainimarama supporters have claimed that the new Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr was about to offer the dictator an “olive branch” . Mr Carr has wisely stated that he is not about to announce any policy change. He will clearly wish to take wide soundings of political and community opinion to guide his thinking.

The most prudent diplomatic stance to take with Commodore Bainimarama is one of caution in light of his record as a breaker of promises. For instance, he misled the Pacific Islands Forum when he made a commitment to holding elections in 2009.

The Fiji Labour Party and the Fiji Islands Trades Union Congress have already raised many questions publicly about Bainimarama’s constitutional plans. Other organisations and individuals share their doubts but are reluctant yet to speak out.

Non Government Organisations, including the Citizens Constitutional Forum, have called for the rescinding of new laws that prevent open and free debate and give licence to Commodore Bainimarama and his Ministers to make defamatory statements. The same protection is not offered to those who might speak against them.

Commodore Bainimarama has chosen for his own reasons to ignore the 1997 constitution, which many legal experts consider is still in existence, but dormant. This is the position of the CFDFiji. The 1997 constitution was the supreme law of Fiji which Commodore Bainimarama claims he abrogated in 2009. This was after the Fiji Court of Appeal had declared his administration illegal. It is still illegal and that obviously has consequences for the constitutional scheme he has announced.

The 1997 constitution was widely hailed internationally. It was the product of exhaustive consultations and had the endorsement of all the Parliamentary parties representing the people of Fiji. It should, therefore, form the foundation for the discussions that are to take place. Many parts of it can be retained, while others can be changed only by an elected parliament.

Another disturbing development was the apparent rejection by Attorney General Saiyed-Khaiyum of an offer by the Australian and New Zealand governments to provide funding for electronic voter registration. This was on the basis that they have scrutiny access to voter registration. The proposal was made in good faith to ensure the process is transparent and equitable. The attitude of Sayed-Khaiyum clearly signals the possibility of planned manipulation of the process hidden from international observers and donors.

 

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
10th March 2012
cfdfiji.org

No demand for office space in Suva as economy crumbles.

Carpenters not completing MHCC building

Saturday, August 13, 2011

http://www.radiofiji.com.fj/fullstory.php?id=39057

The Carpenters Group of Companies is not going to complete the construction of it’s flagship building in central Suva MHCC.

Group General Manager Daniel Whippy told FBC News they will instead focus on developing other properties.

One of them being the development of a lot in Waqadra, Nadi .

Whippy says the property will be developed for commercial and retail purpose.

He says plans are well advanced now and construction should begin shortly.

Whippy has not revealed why further development of MHCC has been put on hold.

Report by : Masimeke Latianara

Lack of serious investors for Fiji sees banks turn to more risky SME investment.

Investment quiet
SMEs will mop up liquidity

Dionisia Tabureguci

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/fiji_business/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=19822/overideSkinName=issueArticle-full.tpl

Liquidity sitting in the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) vaults may likely be channelled into the Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector over the coming months as the country still struggles to clinch significant private sector investments to mop up funds.

At least one commercial bank is putting its money on increased lending competition in SMEs, as a “subdued demand for loans” environment currently envelopes the local lending market.

“We’re seeing quite a subdued demand for loans with the amount of liquidity we’ve got,” said Kevin McCarthy, Bank South Pacific’s Fiji Manager.

“When they say the amount of liquidity, this is the demand deposits the banks hold with the RBF. And currently, we only receive one percent on those deposits, so it makes perfect sense for us to try and lend that money out.Even at the finest rate, you’re still making a lot more than the one percent you get from the Reserve Bank.”

BSP holds a 10 percent market share of the Fiji corporate lending market and is the largest retail bank in the country, following its acquisition of Colonial National Bank in 2009.

“In the corporate side of things, we see a lot of competition among banks for big corporate deals that are going on. And I think you will see in the next 12 months or so a lot more competition in the small to medium enterprises sector,” he added.

“This is an area that BSP is moving into and we’ve brought some very good people into the bank to give us the capacity to provide some very good services. So you can expect to see more competition in that SME sector.”

McCarthy, along with the BSP Group’s Papua New Guinea-based CEO Ian Clyne, held a press conference in Fiji last month, a day ahead of the bank’s board meeting.

High liquidity, low investment: High liquidity and low investment levels were prevalent in the Fiji market at the time, with the June Economic Review put out by RBF stating that demand deposits of commercial banks had risen to $580.4 million during the month, from $559 million at the beginning of June and $520.7 million in May.

Equivalent to around 10 percent of Fiji’s $5.65 billion per capita Gross Domestic Product, the excess liquidity wasn’t only worrying to commercial banks.

The authorities too were concerned that it reflected the low levels of private sector investments in the economy. The local media reported last month a call made by government for lending institutions to lend to non-traditional areas so that liquidity is soaked up.

At the annual Fiji Institute of Accountants’ Congress held in Nadi in June, RBF governor Barry Whiteside hinted that intervention—through sterilising liquidity—was being considered by the institution in order to dampen liquidity.

At that conference, Whiteside revealed a low private sector investment at 3.5 percent of GDP and the overall investment level of 14 percent of GDP was being supported largely by government and state-owned enterprises.

Lending activities of commercial banks reflected this—total bank credit to the private sector had been dropping from around $2.8 billion in 2006 to $1.6 billion in April this year. Bank credit was trending upwards, said Whiteside, but very slowly.

If commercial banks had been hoping for a slice of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) market, the pie is “inconsistent and minimal”—Whiteside quoted RBF data of FDI valued at $111 million in 2009 (2 percent of GDP) and $229 million in 2010 (3.9 percent of GDP).

In 2006, FDI was registered at $714 million (13.3 percent of GDP), declining to $542 million (9.9 percent) in 2007 and then to $499 million (8.8 percent) in 2008. This may translate to intense competition for financing among the commercial banks in Fiji, but even so, things are generally quiet.

“At the accountants’ congress (in early June this year), it was shown that private sector investment ran at 3.5 percent of GDP. Now, government wants to see an investment of 25 to 30 percent but if the private sector is not investing, that’s a real concern,” said BSP’s McCarthy.

“And I think it’s a challenge government is taking on, I think it understands that it needs to make some changes to restore confidence in the business sector. I think a lot of people have plans but they’re not confident enough at the moment to go ahead with those plans,” McCarthy added.

The consumer lending market too has been turning very slowly.

“The housing market is quite subdued. The banks now are competing quite effectively in that market, first year home loan rates have come down to below six percent, so there’s increased competition. But, as I said, people are hesitant to take out large mortgages and debt at the moment,” said McCarthy.

Impediments to investment in Fiji, according to a 1999 RBF survey quoted by Whiteside, were found to be in areas of government policy uncertainty, red tape and bureaucracy, general economic climate, finding skilled labour, political situation, law and order issues, lack of infrastructure, high utility costs and land tenure instability.

Since 1999, governments of the day have tried to address these issues, while the recent global financial fallout has also worsened Fiji’s generally muted investment climate.

A headline designed to scare away investors. After ten years in Fiji KFC is unable to operate in the current enviroment.

Fast food operator in Fiji closes its doors over spat with government agency

Posted at 03:30 on 02 August, 2011 UTC

The fast food chain KFC has temporarily closed its three locations in Fiji after being unable to import key ingredients.

In a statement, the company says that since October 2010, the Fiji Quarantine & Inspection Division has not allowed KFC to bring in its most needed ingredients – a milk and egg mix and breading salt.

It says the missing ingredients have led to a decline in product quality, which coupled with rising food costs, contributed to decreasing sales.

The statement says KFC has been importing the milk and egg mix and breading salt since first opening its doors in Fiji 10 years ago.

KFC’s management is working to resolve the import restriction with the Fiji Quarantine & Inspection Division.

The permanent closure would affect about 80 full-time and part-time employees.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

————————————————————————–

Fiji Bio-security accuses KFC of false claims


Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) has clairified that they are not responsible for the closure of KFC outlets in Fiji and says the global fast food

Its easy to offer vague promises of future profit sharing when the company lost US$50 million last year and its major partner Qantas is trying to bail out.

Fiji union wary of Air Pacific profit share plans

Posted at 03:30 on 02 August, 2011 UTC

Fiji’s Transport Workers Union says a profit sharing programme proposal for Air Pacific employees seems vague and not a good enough incentive for workers.

A statement from the company last week said the board of directors of Fiji’s national airline has, in principle, approved management’s recommendation for the proposal, but a finalised plan is yet to be approved.

The union’s general secretary Kamlesh Kumar says the company recorded a loss of over 50-million US dollars last year, so it’s likely to be some time before its profitable again.

Plus he says the board would also still determine what would be paid out to employees.

Kamlesh Kumar says the union has been kept in the dark and heard about it through local media.

“We as workers and as workers representatives do not have any control over what is contained in the proposals, neither what will be offered, or given to the employees therefore we repeat our claim that it is totally baseless, and it is hollow, and it does not mean anything.”

Kamlesh Kumar

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Pensioners have a legal contract with FNPF. Legalising a “Breach of Contract” will scare away any potential investors.

Battle to seek justice for Fiji pensioners strikes new legal defining point

By Professor Wadan Narsey
August 1, 2011

Fiji’s system of law and justice is at a historically defining point with the Burness/Shameem case against the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF).

For months, FNPF has mounted an expensive and extensive public campaign (media and public meetings) to justify reducing pension rates to not just future pensioners, but also to existing pensioners (two quite separate policy changes).

FNPF and its paid consultants have presented numerous scenarios, powerpoints, and media releases throughout Fiji – all pointing to planned reductions of future pensions.

Most recently, they have claimed that they will reduce existing pensions of only some 1200 or so people earning higher dollar pensions above some “poverty line”.

The Burness/Shameem lawsuit is seeking justice for current pensioners, by asking the Fiji courts to stop FNPF from implementing its plan to reduce existing pensions, on the grounds that such action would negate Burness’s basic human rights.

A simple case to understand and adjudicate on, you might have thought.

Decree-caused nightmare
But it is a nightmare, even for an educated lay person, to read through (a) the submission by ShameemLaw for pensioner David Burness and (b) the judgment so far by Judge Hettiarchchi – it is a nightmare caused largely by the debilitating demonic presence of the military decrees.

While this case is important for FNPF pensioners, it is far more important for the Fiji economy as a whole, because the planned FNPF action strikes at the heart of private property and legal contracts, both of which are at the core of all business transactions in Fiji and globally.

The Burness/ShameemLaw case should therefore be of great interest to Fiji’s business interests, Chambers of Commerce, Employers’ Federation and all investors in Fiji (not that any of them would support the case financially).

The resolution of this case will be a defining moment for Fiji’s system of laws and justice.

Basic human right to justice
Every decent civilised society tries to ensure that each and every citizen is able to ask for, and receive justice in their disputes, based on the rule of law, and increasingly in recent years, by appealing to the United Nations Declarations of Basic Human Rights.

The 2010 Report of the NZ Human Rights Commission on Human Rights in NZ, written without any legalistic jargon, stated clearly that (p. 89)

1. the law must be accessible, intelligible, clear and predictable;

2. fundamental human rights must be protected;

3. civil disputes should be resolved without prohibitive cost and in a timely fashion;

4. Ministers and public officers at all levels must exercise the powers conferred on them reasonably, in good faith, for the purpose for which the powers were conferred and without exceeding the limits of such powers; and

5. adjudicative procedures provided by the state should be fair.

Judge for yourselves how the current case against FNPF will be assessed according to these sensible principles.

The ShameemLaw arguments
ShameemLaw very reasonably asked for relief from the courts: a declaration that the Applicants’s (Burness’) pension not be reduced; declarations that the proposed review was a breach of the contract and that the FNPF plan to reduce the pension of the Applicant would constitute a breach of his human rights; and that the review of the FNPF Act be postponed until there had been a Commission of Inquiry in the planned review (also sought of the courts).

ShameemLaw cautiously noted:

“Of course the Constitution of 1997 has again been abrogated (it is said) and there are many Decrees in place now to emphasize this time and again so clearly the Constitutional Redress application process is not available to an applicant. …. It is not an abuse of the Court process for the Applicant, David Burness, to make his application in this way since all other procedural avenues for human rights redress, previously provided by the Constitution, are closed to him.”

[I add the word “cautiously”, because Dr Shaista Shameem (with Neel Shivam) had also fought the Chandrika Prasad case in which Anthony Gates (what irony!) had ruled that the attempted 2000 abrogation of the 1997 Constitution by Bainimarama was in fact invalid. Might that one day be the case with the 2009 purported abrogation?].

ShameemLaw reassured the judge that “the applicant David Burness has no desire to challenge the revocation of the 1997 Constitution by his application. He wants to claim his right to a pension pursuant to the Human Rights Commission Decree”.

As ShameemLaw pointed out, Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly: “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.”

And Article 10: states: “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations…”.

All quite reasonable, one would have thought: a citizen with a just grievance against FNPF, appealing to the Courts for a fair ruling, even within the constraints of an allegedly abrogated Constitution and restrictive Military Decrees.

But the FNPF and Regime lawyers (D. Sharma and S. Sharma) claimed that the Burness application “discloses no reasonable cause of action…; is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious; or may prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the action; or is otherwise an abuse of the process of the court”.

What? Our pensioners’ and tax-payers’ money is being used to pay lawyers to offer this contemptuous “clutch at a straw” in order to defend FNPF’s unjust plans to hurt pensioners’ interests? Where is the good faith of FNPF’s public officers, the FNPF board and their lawyers in this very genuine case?

What Judge Hettiarachchi said
The Hettiarachchi judgment, while perhaps clear to the legal profession, has many surprising statements (surprising to pensioners) implying that there is no solid evidence that the FNPF is planning to reduce pensions and harm the interests of pensioners, including that of Burness.

Paragraph 8: Upon perusal of the affidavit and its annexes, I am unable to satisfy myself of any probable basis on which the human rights of the Applicant could be violated by any reforms that could be introduced to the FNPF.

Paragraph 9: The applicant has even failed to present adequate material explaining how his human rights will be violated by any reforms that could be introduced to the FNPF.

Paragraph 15: … the applicant merely relied on a statement of the CEO of FNPF. It is further alleged that by the proposed reforms to the FNPF, the applicant’s pension would be reduced by 64 percent.

Paragraph 16: It is not stated the source from which the applicant got this information.

Paragraphs 22 and 23: The Applicant has manifestly failed to establish that there is a serious question to be tried… and therefore I strike out the applicant’s application for an injunction.

Reading this, many pensioners will be tearing out whatever little hair they have left on their heads, or at least scratching their bald heads.

Who in Fiji has not heard and read the massive public campaigns by FNPF on TV, radio, newspapers, public meetings, all stating that current pension rates were not sustainable and would be reduced; and that existing pensions were allegedly “unfair” and needed to be also reduced? Why indeed would FNPF bother to appear in court and waste their time with expensive lawyers to oppose a motion trying to stop it from reducing pensions, if FNPF had no intention of reducing pensions?

An ordinary person in the position of the learned Judge might simply have asked FNPF, there and then in the courts:

What is the nature of the reforms that you are planning and you have been publicising for six months? Why have you not told the public exactly what you are planning to do?. Is it correct that you intend to reduce the annuities of some pensioners, including that of David Burness who is here in court today before me, seeking justice? Why are you not giving the public all the reports that outline what is happening to the FNPF’s sustainability, etc. etc. etc.

But no doubt in the legal world, the learned Judge can only “judge” on the basis of what is placed before him, not what is out there in the media, and even flooding the public eye.

Justice Hettiarchchi instead pointed out (Paragraph 36): “The applicant has not observed the correct procedure laid down in the High Court Rules whilst filing his applications for injunction and the substantive action.”

To his great credit (one must not under-estimate the implicit pressures on him to just throw the case out), Justice Hettiarchchi concluded: “However, I am not inclined to decide the fate of this action purely on technical and procedural grounds” because of its “significant national importance.”

He reminded ShameemLaw (Paragraph 48):“The exact nature of the proposed reforms, its effect on the applicant’s pension benefit, to what extent that the general public are allowed to submit their views on the proposed review, and the procedure which is followed by the FNPF board are of paramount importance to this action, but the applicant has failed to tender sufficient evidence with regard to the abovementioned facts.”

Justice Hettiarchchi very fairly conceded (Paragraph 49): “Given that the matter is of national importance, I am of the view that the Applicant should be granted an opportunity to rectify his procedural and technical errors in the pleadings.”

The judge granted the applicant (Burness/ShameemLaw) 21 days to rectify procedural errors and file proper pleadings together with the necessary and relevant documentary evidence. The respondents were granted further 14 days to file their response.

Need to focus on property, contract rights?
Globally, the business world does not give a jot for the “general human rights” of ordinary people, especially those who cannot afford smart lawyers. But they do care about property rights and the sanctity of legal contracts, at the heart of the business world.

It is extremely important therefore to get the full moral support and interest of the business and investor community, by ensuring that the legal case against FNPF highlights also the legitimate property rights of the FNPF pensioners and the “sanctity of their lawful contracts” with FNPF.

Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “Everyone has the right to own property” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”. And by all relevant criteria, FNPF annuities and pensions are property, guaranteed by a contract.

When pensioners reached 55, they were required by the FNPF management (and FNPF Act) to sign Form 9-OP and to declare whether they would take a pension (single or joint) or they would take a lump sum, or some mixture of lump sum, joint or single pension. [Pensioners, you can download Form 9-OP from the FNPF web-site, in case you have forgotten what it looks like].

On Form 9-OP, the FNPF informs the retiree that if he chooses to take the pension options, he will receive exactly this or that annuity (annual sum of money in dollars, and exactly this or that precise percentage of his final balance) payable for his lifetime (single pension) and the lifetime of his last surviving partner (in the case of the lower double pension). These percentages were was set by Parliament originally at 25 percent, and by another Act of Parliament in 1998, gradually reduced to 15 percent currently.

Through the 9-OP Form, FNPF sternly warns “Once you have made you (sic) choice it is final and cannot afterwards be changed or revoked.”

In other words, the die is cast for you, the pensioner. You have entered a legal contract which cannot be changed in any way, by you. But apparently, FNPF thinks that it can breach this contract.

Form 9-OP warns that if the retiree does not notify the FNPF within 2 months of receiving that offer, “it shall be deemed that you have opted to take the full lump sum and a lump sum payment will be processed. This cannot be changed or revoked later”.

Two conclusions follow from this offer in Form 9-OP. First, it was the FNPF which offered and promised clearly the exact benefits which the pensioners would receive for the rest of their life (the pensioner’s “consideration”) in return for leaving their savings with the FNPF (FNPF’s “consideration”).

Second, the FNPF recognized that the savings of the retiree were his personal property to be taken either as a lump sum, or as an explicitly defined annuity until death of the beneficiary, or some combination of both.

FNPF is a corporate body bound by contracts
How horrifying for pensioners who have worked all their lives and been legally forced by the laws of Fiji to deposit their life savings with FNPF, to hear in court the FNPF lawyer (Davenesh Sharma) arguing that “there is no legal entity such as the name of Fiji National Provident Fund, so the proceedings against this non-existent body is unsustainable” (as stated in the judgment).

[Let us hope that Davenesh Sharma (former president of the Fiji Law Society) was merely amusing himself with the semantics or clutching at straws, and not seriously attempting to use this argument to scuttle justice for old age pensioners in order to be seen to earn his hefty lawyers’ fees.]

Because Article 4 of the FNPF Act states clearly that the FNPF board shall be a body corporate and shall, by the name of “The Fiji National Provident Fund Board”, have perpetual succession and a common seal …. The Board may sue and be sued in its corporate name and may enter into contracts.

Legal texts universally point out (eg google “Mark Radcliffe and Diane Brinson”) that a contract is formed when one party (the “offeror”) makes an offer which is accepted by the other party (the “offeree”) usually with some mutual promises and consideration involved.

Here, a legal corporate body (FNPF) made a clear explicit offer to the retirees that should they choose the pension option (whether single, joint or combination) and leave their savings with the FNPF (FNPF’s consideration), they would receive in return an annuity (expressed explicitly in dollars as a fixed percentage of their final balance) until they (or their nominated partner) died.

What could be clearer than this contract.

Nowhere in the contract (the 9-OP form) is there any clause (in large or fine print) which warns the pensioners that their pension rate may be changed in the future by the FNPF Board for whatever reason.

Despite the implicit allegations by FNPF lawyers, nowhere in the FNPF Acts is there any reference whatsoever to the Board’s powers to vary the annuity rate, already offered to and accepted by pensioners, and approved by Parliament.

In law it is fundamental that if one party meets its contractual obligations (the pensioner left his savings with the FNPF) and the other party doesn’t (“breaches the contract”), the nonbreaching party is entitled to receive relief through the courts.

Which is precisely what the Burness/ShameemLaw case is trying to do through Fiji’s courts.

Three breaches of the FNPF Act by the board
Pensioners have reasoned rationally with FNPF management and the FNPF board till they (the pensioners) are black and blue in the face. The FNPF management and board have not budged one inch. They certainly are not resigning as has been suggested to them as the honorable thing to do.

I suggest that the learned Judge’s advice that “…the procedure which is followed by the FNPF Board are of paramount importance to this action” be taken literally to examine more closely whether the FNPF Board has been and is currently following the letter and spirit of the law embedded in the FNPF Act.

Perhaps the legal battle also needs to be taken to the FNPF Board members who can personally now be sued if they are failing in their duties as trustees of the FNPF board.

Specifically, each of the FNPF board members and collectively, may be charged for three breaches of the FNPF Act.

Breach 1 (pointed out previously):
The board refuses to take advantage of Section 10 which clearly states that “If the fund is, at any time, unable to pay any sum which is required to be paid under the provisions of this Act, the sum required shall be advanced to the fund by the government and the fund shall, as soon as practicable, repay to the government the sums so advanced”.

What? The FNPF board does not want to ask government to lend money to FNPF to cover possible shortfalls in the future, while they have been happy to lend whatever to Government at the preferential interest rates for forty years?

Breach 2:
Section 8 of the FNPF Act requires the board to declare a rate of interest to be paid to members’ credit, “not less than 2 1/2 per cent per annum” provided that “no rate of interest exceeding 2 1/2 per cent per annum shall be so declared, unless, in the opinion of the board, the ability of the fund to meet all payments required to be paid under this Act is not endangered by the declaration of such rate.”

The FNPF is currently planning to reduce pension rates for future pensioners and existing pensioners, alleging that current pension rates are unsustainable, and even alleging that these pension rates have been known to be unsustainable for more than a decade. Yet, year after year, the FNPF board has declared a rate of interest higher than 2 ½ percent (including this year as well at 5 ½ percent) to be credited to members’ funds.

The FNPF board refuses to follow the FNPF Act which very specifically asks it to not declare a rate of interest above 2 ½ percent if the fund is not sustainable.

While refusing to do what it is specifically required to do by the FNPF Act, the FNPF board is attempting to do what is nowhere authorised in the FNPF Act, namely to reduce existing annuities contracted to existing pensioners or their beneficiaries. How ridiculous.

Breach 3:
Section 12 B of the FNPF Act which outlines the duties to be exercised by the Board as Trustees require that the Board must abide by all rules and principles of law which impose any duty on a trustee exercising a power of investment including all rules and principles which impose (a) any duty to exercise the. powers of a trustee in the best interests of all beneficiaries of the trust; (b) any duty to act impartially towards beneficiaries and between different classes of beneficiaries;

The FNPF Act are currently stating that they will not reduce the existing pensions of some 89 percent of pensioners whose pensions are allegedly “below the poverty line”, but they will reduce those of the other 11percent earning higher pensions.

Where in the FNPF Act is there any mention of a “poverty line” to be used to determine differential annuity rates for pensioners? Which part of the FNPF Act authorizes the FNPF Board to reduce the pension of one group of pensioners who are allegedly “above some poverty line”, which is moreover to be decided by themselves?

At no place in the contract agreement with pensioners (Form 9-OP) did the FNPF ever indicate that in future, they might treat low income and high income pensioners differently.

Should FNPF go ahead with their plan to reduce existing pensions, not only would they be breaching their contract with pensioners, but it would be a clear breach of Section 12 B of the FNPF Act which requires them “to act impartially towards beneficiaries and between different classes of beneficiaries”.

In the NZ Human Rights Commissions legal principles outlined at the beginning of this article Principle No 4 insisted that “Ministers and public officers must exercise the powers conferred on them reasonably, in good faith, for the purpose for which the powers were conferred and without exceeding the limits of such powers”. That is certainly not the case here with the FNPF board and the FNPF management.

Pensioners need to seriously ask, should there be a separate legal case mounted against the directors of the FNPF board for breach of their duties as trustees under the FNPF Act.

Pensioners need to set up a trust fund to which all pensioners can contribute to cover any costs being incurred in the Burness/ShameemLaw case. Such cases should not be fought on “pro bono” bases.

Perhaps Transparency International also, with its focus on good governance by boards, should scrutinize the FNPF board for its next international report on Fiji.

Future judgment and the lurking “decrees”
Pensioners need to read for themselves that the Hettiarchchi Judgment has paragraph after paragraph which suggests that any decrees by the President may not be contradicted by any judgment in this FNPF case.

Paragraph 29: “Any person can apply to the High Court for redress for the contravention of his or her human right”subject to the proviso that “no proceeding which seeks to question or challenge the legality or validity of the Fiji Constitution Amendment Act 1997 Revocation Decree 2009, or such other Decrees made or may be made by the President, shall be brought before the High Court.”

The judge observed that while the lawyers for FNPF/Khaiyum argued that the Burness/Shameem should have filed for a “judicial review”, the judge held that “under the Administration of Decree 2009, even the judicial review is not permitted if it challenges the Fiji Constitution Amendment Act 997 Revocation Decree 2009 (Decree no. 1) Act 2009 and such other decrees made or as may be made by the President”.

Paragraph 45: “Whether it is human rights application or otherwise, it is explicit that the applicant by his substantive action is purporting to prevent an amendment being made to the FNPF Act. Since section 3 and 4 of the Administration of Justice Act 2009 expressly preclude court from entertaining or hearing any application including judicial review challenging the validity of a decree made by the President, it is incumbent on the applicant to justify the grounds upon which he instituted this action.”

Paragraph 46. Therefore if the applicant intends to challenge the validity or legality of a decree he cannot do it even by way of judicial review.

Paragraph 47: The determination of issues, broadly described as political, relying on the exercise of non-judicial power, or adopting an executive or legislative character are normally non-justiciable issues and will fall outside of the jurisdiction of the courts. Therefore the applicant must show that he is pursuing purely a human rights application, which warrants further material from the applicant as well as from the Respondents to determine the correct nature of this application.

Paragraph 50. Moreover this application contains characteristics of legislative issues to a certain extent. What will that mean?

The eventual judgment will be a land-mark decision – whether the courts will uphold the basic human rights to personal property and the sanctity of contracts, or conclude that these must also be subservient to any decree that the military regime will give the President to sign.

Why are military regime and Attorney-General co-respondents?
The Burness/ShameemLaw case is essentially a pensioner’s case directed at the FNPF board, not at the military regime.

It is a basic principle of good governance by any statutory board, that once appointed by the government, the board must be left totally independent to govern the institution according to its charters and regulations, and fight its legal battles.

It is anomalous therefore that there are lawyers representing the military regime and military Attorney-General as co-respondents in the Burness/ShameemLaw case against FNPF.

Is this yet more evidence that the military regime wishes to do all that is possible to ensure that FNPF has cash to keep lending to government at the lowest interest rates possible.

In any case, it is good that the military regime and military Attorney-General are co-respondents in the case.

Because it will not be the FNPF which will be changing the FNPF Act, but the military regime changing the FNPF Act by military decree to give FNPF some semblance of legality in reducing the pensions of Burness and the thousand or so others.

Protecting human rights under military decrees
While the laws of civilised countries are largely grounded in democratic parliamentary processes or common law developed over centuries by a consistent judiciary, legal cases in Fiji are now waged under the shadows of the 2006 military coup and its decrees.

A large part of the pressure to reduce FNPF pension is due to the 2006 coup which was supported by illegally appointed presidents signing illegal military decrees thereby undermining investor confidence, reducing economic growth and the creation of new jobs and incomes, destroying the value of several large FNPF investments, and thereby constraining FNPF revenues.

Reading the ShameemLaw submission and the judgment by Justice Hettiarchchi, it is clear that the protection of human rights in Fiji has been made incredibly difficult for all parties, because of the purported 2009 abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, and the restrictive military decrees signed by military presidents.

Those waging the case against FNPF have been totally frustrated by the media censorship and biases which has allowed the FNPF and military regime misrepresentations to be thrust down the public’s throats, while the pensioners’ voices have been largely censored. This media censorship persists because every month, an illegal president keeps signing the Public Emergency Decree.

The ShameemLaw submission is clearly concerned that their legal case will come to naught, if the military regime and the military Attorney-General go ahead in the meantime, to issue another military decree, signed by the military president, to change the FNPF Act to allow the board to reduce pensions, and to declare that the courts cannot hear any challenge to that.

The judge would have to abide by that, as he is in no position to challenge the entire legal edifice that has been created by the military regime.

What a sad irony therefore, that pensioners and their lawyer feel that if their legal case fails, their only recourse will be to appeal to the same president to call for an independent Commission of Inquiry.

Truly, the trials and tribulations of pensioners seeking justice in Fiji are full of ironies.

The ShameemLaw case against FNPF is focused on basic human rights. But Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Yet Fiji has stood by and idly watched its basic human right of freedom of speech trashed for more than a year and currently.

In the current FNPF case, other basic human rights such as personal property of pensioners, and the sanctity of their lawful contracts with FNPF, are under the microscope.

The coming judgment for Fiji’s pensioners will be a historical defining point for Fiji’s system of law and justice.

*************

These are the personal views of Professor Wadan Narsey, not those of the University of the South Pacific where he is employed as professor of economics. He is currently on leave in Japan.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz

We have been asked what B1 rating of Fiji Debt means. Officially it means the loan is “highly speculative” hence the 9% interest.

Main article: Bond credit rating
Moody’s S&P Fitch  
Long-term Short-term Long-term Short-term Long-term Short-term  
Aaa P-1 AAA A-1+ AAA F1+ Prime
Aa1 AA+ AA+ High grade
Aa2 AA AA
Aa3 AA- AA-
A1 A+ A-1 A+ F1 Upper medium grade
A2 A A
A3 P-2 A- A-2 A- F2
Baa1 BBB+ BBB+ Lower medium grade
Baa2 P-3 BBB A-3 BBB F3
Baa3 BBB- BBB-
Ba1 Not prime BB+ B BB+ B Non-investment grade
speculative
Ba2 BB BB
Ba3 BB- BB-
B1 B+ B+ Highly speculative
B2 B B
B3 B- B-
Caa1 CCC+ C CCC C Substantial risks
Caa2 CCC Extremely speculative
Caa3 CCC- In default with little
prospect for recovery
Ca CC
C
C D / DDD / In default
/ DD
/ D

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

An example of the value of a B1 rating…………

“Last week, Greece was pushed to “junk” B1 status, on a par with Fiji and Vietnam.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/eu-leaders-shift-focus-of-rescue-plans-to-the-euro-2238549.html#

Fijian regime turns to junk bond market to refinance debt