#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Parliament told teachers loyal to Reddy promoted

The examination pass rates in Fiji has been shocking since Mahendra Reddy took over as Education Minister.

Recently, students sitting the year 6 examinations scored zero in English even though they scored 80 or 90 in other subjects.

The declining education being provided to students could be due to nepotism and cronyism happening in the education system.
The following cases presented in Parliament show that Reddy promoted teachers loyal to him and the Fiji First at the expense of other deserving meritorious ones.

Name of Officer
Current School
Current Grade
Promoted School
Promoted Grade
Mrs. Ragni Singh
A.D. Patel College, Ba
3B- Vice Principal
Niece of Hon. Minister Mr. Pravin Kumar(aka. Pravin Bala)
Veisaru Sanatan Primary School
Tavua Primary School
3C- Head Teacher
Promoted ahead of Acting HT at Tavua Primary School, Mr. Satish Chand, a confirmed 5A officer.
Mr. Raman has been seen regulary partying with the Minister and he has also been accused of stealing meat from a certain school, extra marital affairs at Koronubu, embezzlement of funds and many more issues.
Tuva Primary, Sigatoka
Nadi Sangam Primary School
1B – Head Teacher
Election Campaign Manager for the Hon. Minister for Education in Sigatoka;
NB. Does not meet the MQR, no qualification upgrade.
Dharmend Reddy
A.D. Patel, Nadi
A.D. Patel, Nadi
Brother of the Hon. Minister for Education; Does not meet MQR; Many senior Teachers were bypassed.

Ritesh Chand
Saru MGM, Lautoka
Lomolomo Public School
12th Year Teacher replacing a very senior with a 23 Years of service. Cousin of Hon. Minister for Education.
Inayat Shah
Lautoka Ahamadiyya Primary School
Lautoka Ahamadiyya Primary School
Broken Service, does not meet MQR, no experience as a Head Teacher
Muniappa Reddy
Naidovi Primary School, Sigatoka
Sabeto Sangam School
Cousin of Hon. Minister for Education. Many other suitable candidates within the District were overlooked.
Mrs. Khan
Nadi Muslim College
HOD 5E Confirmed
Nadi Muslim College
ED1D – Confirmed Priincipal
Did not experience AP or VP during her career.
M. Rofin
Nadi Muslim Primary School
Nadi Muslim Primary School
Many other senior teachers who had qualified for this Post have been grossly overlooked and denied the opportunity to get higher promotion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cafe owner claims he was beaten over email to 'destabilise government'

Rajneel Singh's scarred back. Photo: Fiji Sun
A 32 year old internet cafe owner claims he was beaten and tortured after reporting he'd found an email of a seditious nature.

Rajneel Singh is believed to have discovered the email on a computer that had not been logged out of.

He is reported to be under guard at Lautoka hospital after allegedly being beaten by police officers on Friday night.

It's believed he found the email to 'destablise the government' and sent it to Acting Police Commissioner Brigadier-General, Sitiveni Qiliho.

Qiliho has confirmed some of the details regarding Singh
Singh claims be was beaten and tortured with hot rods because the officers were unhappy he sent the email to Qiliho and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

Fiji media is reporting Qiliho has confirmed Rajneel Singh is under military guard and that police have been implicated. He has been quoted as saying an investigation is underway.

"They're looking after him to keep anybody else out who will have access to him," he is quoted as saying by FBC.

"You understand he's made allegations against the police and that's why I have kept the police in the Western division away from him and that's why I've sent a team from Suva who are only the police team that I have allowed access to him."

Qiliho told FBC he called the military in after he was contacted by the victim in middle of the night on Friday. 

He says the military were closest to the pine plantation where Singh is understood to have been abandoned by his alleged attackers.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Debate of the 2016 budget

Abridged version of the National Federation Party's response to the budget, by whip Prem Singh.

Madam Speaker, the reduction of Value Added Tax from 15% to 9% has been praised in this Parliament. Any reduction in taxes is naturally welcome. But let me put this reduction in context and its corresponding effects.

What about those below the tax threshold of $16,000, earning $2.32 an hour as minimum wage or living in poverty or abject poverty? What about those ineligible for the social pension scheme despite being in retirement?

Madam Speaker, those eligible for $50 food vouchers will get fewer items than previously because basic food items that were zero-rated now see increase in price because of imposition of 9% VAT.

And most seriously Madam Speaker, is imposition of VAT on basic food items turning promises into deeds or mis-deeds?

As revealed by Honourable Members of the Opposition, was this deed promised by Fiji First in its manifesto for the 2014 general elections? The Fiji First Manifesto is worth repeating and I quote:

“Fiji First will continue to control the price of basic food items such as rice, flour, potatoes, dhal, cooking oil, and pharmaceutical and medical products.

Fiji First will continue to place zero VAT on powdered milk, rice, edible oil, tin fish, flour, sharps and medicines”.

Therefore Madam Speaker, the imposition of VAT on basic food items that have been zero-rated for many years is a betrayal of the promise made to the people of Fiji by the Fiji First Government.

We are told that the imposition of VAT will be cushioned by the so-called free water and free medicine schemes. We are interested to know how many people or households are actually benefiting from these schemes. Government should provide these figures for the sake of transparency.

And Government so far Madam Speaker has not clarified what is the actual saving to a household or person accessing the free water subsidy. From our calculations it is $13.96 per year or $1.16 per month – or $3.49 a quarter or every three months.

This pales into insignificance with the increased cost of basic food items like rice, sharps, flour, oil and tinned fish and kerosene. These are bought every week in every household.

This reduction should also have happened in the case of meat like lamb and chicken, which have become a basic commodity. This would have been a reasonable measure to cushion the effects of imposition of VAT on basic food items.

Madam Speaker, the same analogy applies to milk. While milk, butter, cream and yoghurt have reduced VAT of 9%, it still attracts an import duty of 32%. However Fiji Dairy Limited enjoys 0% concession.

But for the last three years, production of fresh milk by Fiji Co-operative did not increase, as the amount paid to farmers is not enough to cover cost of production. This is despite what Government through the Permanent Secretary of Trade and Tourism said a few months ago.

Fiji does not manufacture milk powder, then why such high import duty of 32% was imposed? Inevitably, Madam Speaker, this duty is passed on to the consumers. Milk can be much cheaper if the duty is reduced. The concession provided to Fiji Dairy is not passed on to the consumers.

Madam Speaker Government projects to rake in $ 127.5 million from Service Turnover Tax. The 10% STT means for example if I eat in a restaurant and the food bill comes to $10, $2 goes to Government. This is apart from 9% VAT and duties on food items.

The same applies to Hotels where tourists pay the STT. But are the workers of our hotels, resorts and restaurants sharing a piece of this revenue cake? While Government forecasts revenue of more than $127 million from STT, the salaries of workers remain stagnant. Madam Speaker, we have established that there is no uniformity in salaries and wages of our hotel and resort workers.

For example Madam Speaker, one resort pays only $2.89 an hour for receptionists. Another resort is paying $4.65. The lowest wage rate in the tourism industry is $2.50 an hour while the highest is $6 an hour. These are disparities that must be corrected. Affordability by hotel and resort owners is not an issue because some prominent resorts are paying lower wages than smaller ones.

Madam Speaker, we see Government is providing incentives like tax holidays and duty free imports of equipment for the establishment of state of the art hospitals and diagnostic laboratories. Public/private partnership is a good thing – we vigorously promoted this during the last elections.

But this has to become a reality. The last such proposal of the establishment of an hospital by the Apollo Group 8 years ago has not seen the light of the day despite the offer of similar incentives.

However Madam Speaker, in the absence of state of the art hospitals, it is utterly disappointing to note that tertiary health care – which is advanced surgical procedures like heart surgeries has been halted.

We also believe as part of the reversals being put in place by the health ministry, the grant of $F 10,000 has been reduced to $5,000 for these cases since 2015. This makes it even more difficult for patients to be prepared for open-heart surgery. No clear answers are forthcoming from the health personnel apart from the “No money” cry since July 2015. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Naidu resigns over 'militarisation of Fiji police'

Richard Naidu
Constitutional Offices Commission member Richard Naidu has resigned over the recent appointment of Sitiveni Qiliho as acting Police Commissioner.

In a statement released today, Naidu says his 'concerns' about the way the Commission operates 'have been growing' and the appointment of Qiliho 'persuades me that there is little point in remaining a Commission member'.

Naidu goes on to say that the Commission has been 'effectively politicised' and that Frank Bainimarama's hand in the appointment of Qiliho was inappopriate.

Like others, Naidu says the most senior officer in the police should have been appointed Acting Police Commissioner until a new one was found.

The militarisation of the Fiji Police Force has been a concern for some time but more so with the departure of South African Ben Growenweld who has been replaced by long time loyal and military acolyte Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho.

The National Federation Party yesterday denounced the appointment saying: "This shows that military rule remains supreme in the country and above civilian rule enforced by the police".

NFP President Tupou Draunidalo says the latest events in the Fiji Police give citizens no confidence.

"It is evidently clear that Police Commissioner Ben Groenwald was given his marching orders abruptly by the Prime Minister because three police officers are facing prosecution for alleged brutality on an prison escapee," adds Hon Draunidalo.

"The forced resignation of Groenwald is wrong, the appointment of the Acting Commissioner is a case of nepotism and cronyism of the highest order. 

"Meritocracy has been trashed in favour of jobs 'for the boys'," Tupou Draunidalo said.

Richard Naidu's Statement

I have written to the President today resigning from the Constitutional Offices Commission. My concerns about how the Commission operates have been growing. However the way in which the acting Commissioner of Police has recently been appointed persuades me that there is little point in remaining a Commission member.

When the Prime Minister recommends acting appointments of Constitutional officers to the President, he is exercising powers entrusted to him by Commission members. He should not act as he pleases. 

In the case of the Police Commissioner, he should have recommended the most senior available officer in the Police ranks to act as Commissioner until a new substantive appointment was made. 

If he wanted to recommend a random acting appointment, outside the Police hierarchy, he owed it to Commission members to consult them first.

The Commission seems to operate in haphazard fashion, mostly on the basis of last-minute emails, reflecting either disorganisation or a lack of interest in good governance. Some things seem not to happen at all. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fiji Police Commissioner accuses military for resignation

Ben Groenewald says the reason behind his resignation is the military interfering with policing.

The regime led government yesterday put out a statement saying the Police Commissioner had resigned for personal reasons but Groenewald told the ABC it was because of military interference.

"For personal and family reasons, the Commissioner of the Fiji Police Force, Mr Bernardus Groenewald, has submitted written notification for an early release from his contractual appointment as the Commissioner of the Fiji Police Force with effect from Tuesday, November 10, 2015," a statement from the government said.

Land force commander Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho will replace Groenewald for three months until a new person is appointed to the role.
Groenewald said his resignation is "indirectly" related to a case of alleged police brutality involving escaped prisoner Iowane Benedito who was beaten with wooden and metal poles by three police officers.

Groenewald had been pushing for these three officers to be prosecuted for the beating but they were recruited by the military.
Land Force Commander Sitiveni Qiliho said the three suspended police officers were recruited because they were working for the safety of the people of Fiji and had been abandoned by the police.

"The fact is I don't agree with the way they're interfering with policing," Groenewald told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

"I'm a true-blooded police officer and I'm not satisfied with the way that they're interfering in policing."

This blog revealed two years ago that the beating and torture was spearheaded by Bainimarama's task force and police team.

We revealed that the licence plate of the ute, believed to be a government vehicle, where Benedito was beaten and brutalized was FL541.

A police source had told us then that FL541 was a police task force vehicle previously used by the director of CID, which was then given to the drugs team and then the strike back team of the former commissioner of police, Ioane Naivalurua.

Groenewald served for more than 40 years in South Africa before accepting the role of Fiji police commissioner.