#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-08-01

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mill performance scandalous

By KAMAL IYER

The performance of Fiji Sugar Corporation’s mills in the country in terms of extraction of quality sugar from fresh green sugarcane has been well and truly scandalous this season.

Statistics obtained by me reveal the milling efficiency has deteriorated significantly from last season’s performance which was horrendous in itself. It is absolutely clear that the FSC is simply unable to find answers about why its mills are not only grossly under-performing but failing to extract sugar at a time when sugar content in fresh green cane is at an optimum.

It is important to reveal the statistics in terms of tonnes of cane required to make one tonne of sugar (TCTS) as well as the average TCTS so far.

Alarming Statistics
 

FSC MILL PERFORMANCE – 2010 SEASON
(From start of crush to Monday July 26)

MILL CANE CRUSHED
(TONNES) SUGAR PRODUCED
(TONNES) TCTS(Tonnes of cane required to make one tonne of sugar)  LAUTOKA 124,000 8985 13.8  LABASA 112,000 8549 13.1  PENANG 74,000 6852 10.8  RARAWAI 72,000 2769 26  

 
The National Average in terms of the combined performance of the four mills from the start of crush until Monday 26th July is:

TOTAL CANE CRUSHED BY THE 4 MILLS (TONNES) TOTAL SUGAR PRODUCED BY THE 4 MILLS (TONNES) TCTS (Tonnes of cane required to make one tonne of sugar)  382,000 27,155 14.1  


Of all the mills the country’s smallest mill – Penang – is the best of the worst performing mills. Penang’s TCTS of 10.8 is high compared to its past record of 1980’s and 1990’s but comparatively fares better than mills which have undergoe millions of dollars worth of upgrade.

Lame excuses
 

In the last fortnight I was in Ba and the abysmal performance of Rarawai mill is the talk of the district. Yesterday the spokesman for FSC, through a report in The Fiji Times, tried to downplay problems faced by farmers and lorry drivers carting cane to the mill. He said farmers harvested their crop without quota. This is a lame excuse.

Farmers have mouths to feed in the form of cane cutters and farm labourers. When there are prolonged frequent breakdowns at the mill, farmers have no choice but to request the idle cane cutters to harvest cane and load it onto lorries. Lorries are only allowed to weigh and dump their cane loads at the mill after FSC issues quotas.

During my two visits to Ba in the last fortnight, no long queues of lorries were visible, except in the mill yard itself.  When Rarawai mill used to have smooth crushing operations, lorries laden with cane would occupy the FSC grounds a stone’s throw away from the mill with drivers fully aware their wait would not be long. Such was the intensity of harvesting and delivery of cane in the past.

But now drivers only turn up with their lorries to the mill when they learn that the mill is at last running. But even then their hopes of an early return to their homes are dashed when the mill breaks down while they are waiting. Obviously this gives rise to despair, despondency, frustration and anger amongst farmers, cane cutters and lorry drivers as their livelihood is affected.

Losses 

In 2009 the four mills crushed a total of 2.2 million tonnes of cane, producing 167,644 tonnes of sugar. The TCTS was 13.1 – 13.1 tonnes of cane was required on an average by the four mills to produce one tonne of sugar.

The worst internationally acceptable TCTS ratio is 10 – 10 tonnes of cane required to produce one tonne of sugar. If the four mills had achieved this TCTS, they would have produced 220,000 tonnes of sugar from 2.2 million tonnes of cane.

Therefore, the mills produced a little over 53,000 tonnes less sugar than what would normally be expected. Based on the FJD$1000 per tonne price Fiji sugar exports fetched last year, the sugar industry lost a massive $53 million in earnings.

And since farmers share 70 percent profit as well as losses in terms of cane price, they lost around $37 million in direct earnings. This meant farmers lost $12-$15 per tonne – lost revenue that was not their fault.

A similar, if not worse trend has emerged this year. So far the four mills have produced less than 11,000 tonnes of sugar less than the should have produced. Based on a TCTS ratio of 10, the mills should have produced 38,200 tonnes of sugar from 382,000 tonnes of cane crushed so far.

The months between June and August are ideal for cane crushing. The sugar content in cane is highest due to favourably cool climate. If FSC cannot extract sugar from quality cane, then the TCTS ratio will be much higher than the current average of 14.1 during the second half of the season.

Past mill performance

It is important to briefly compare the current crushing trend and milling efficiency with official figures of Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics who have similar information since 1975.

The statistics show that in 1975 the four mills produced 272,000 tonnes of sugar. The TCTS between 1975 and 1998 ranged from a remarkable 7.4 (in 1977) to 9.8 (in 1990). The average TCTCS for this 24 year period was 8.5.

From 1999 to 2007 the TCTS ranged between 11.1 (in 2000) and 8.9 (in 2003). The average TCTS for this 9 year period was 10.08. This clearly shows that milling efficiency is deteriorating. 

Honest answers
The legitimate question that arises is how effective has been the $85 million mill upgrade program? And were the mills audited in the last few years before the start of a crushing season to determine their state of preparedness?

A feeling of disenchantment is undoubtedly being felt by the farmers, their families, the cane cutters, lorry operators, lorry drivers, labourers and farm hands. The scandalous performance of the mills is the biggest disincentive for a segment of Fiji’s population who have sacrificed their livelihood and triumphant days to ensure the sugar industry remains the lifeblood of Fiji’s economy for over a 100 years.

And for the last ten years or so, they have continued to faithfully perform their duties to the industry and the nation despite the tumultuous times.

They deserve honest answers and all stakeholders in the sugar industry owe it to them to be transparent and accountable.

Editor's Note: Kamal Iyer is a former print and radio journalist.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Misguided 'Pacific in the Pacific' thinkers add to the problem

We can rely on Frank Bainimarama to make the ill-informed comments that show that he's really just an arrogant thug who uses the military to get his own way.

This is, after all, the self-appointed leader who this week told Australian media that he was not sorry the News Limited-owned Fiji Times will close in two months. 

Quote: "I'll be glad that people like the Fiji Times will no longer be here. We'll have our ownership of the papers, so we'll have at least some support for what we're trying to do."

The same miffed Bainimarama also admitted he would never allow changes (read Fiji to return to democracy) because people were still talking about instability and he didn't trust the people.

One expects such village thinking from the junta leader but it's a worry to hear some of the naive talk coming out of this week's Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu.


The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, was the biggest culprit  with his belief Pacific nations would be more successful in turning Bainimarama around.

Tong (pictured) said New Zealand and Australia should back off and allow Fiji's Pacific neighbour's a chance to try and get Fiji to engage. He said: "There's a feeling that there should be more Pacific in the Pacific."

"Pacific in the Pacific", or even better, "Pacific for Pacific" is a  fine sentiment but wrong on this occassion. Just two Pacific leaders have the skills to deal with Bainimarama and his cohorts - Niue's premier Toke Talagi and Samoa's Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. 

The other countries, as we've seen with Tonga, swallow. 

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister was another to muck up this week. McCully openly blamed the New Zealand media for what he said was the failure in the Forum Ministerial Contact Group to re-engage with
Fiji.

McCully said Fiji had invited the group but withdrew the invitation following the New Zealand media's coverage of the events.

"The interim Prime Minister made some strong statements when he saw what was in the New Zealand media coverage of the MCG press conference. 

"I am often moved to hostile thoughts when I see New Zealand media coverage as well," McCully said, implying that he understood Fiji's position. 

"We will have the opportunity to still come to Fiji and engage in meaningful dialogue." 

Sharon Smith-Johns would've been proud of you, McCully.

Someone who spoke some sense this week was the New Zealand prime minister, John Key, who blasted as a "ridiculous assertion" comments by Bainimarama that Australia and New Zealand should not be in the Pacific Islands Forum because they were "not Pacific Islanders".

Key was quick to retort: "We've always played a leadership role in the Pacific, we're going to continue to do that."

Bainimarama interviews draw more fire

The deranged dictator should deport his illegal A-G to Pakistan and China should lock him up in a zoo!
 
By VICTOR LAL
 
Frank Bainimarama claims he is not a dictator. We say he is not only a dictator but a deranged and disgraceful Fiji Islander, who needs to be locked up in a zoo in China, where he will feel at 'home'. I am seriously beginning to doubt if this man is mentally stable, for not a day passes when he makes a major gaffe to the local or international media.

He was recently quoted as saying that he did not want to be part of the Pacific Islands Forum because it was subject to infighting, and Australia and New Zealand were dominating it.

"They crept in slowly like the proverbial camel, you know, with their head in, and then the front legs, and then the back legs, and all of a sudden the owners of the tent were out and they were inside the tent," he said.
 
He also claimed that Australia and New Zealand were not Pacific Islanders. Firstly, it was not Australia and New Zealand, but Bainimarama, Teleni, the Maras and other shadowy figures who crept up from behind in the "Parliamentary Tent" and stole SDL-FLP government by the gun.
 
Secondly, if Australia and New Zealand are not Pacific Islanders, what are the Indo-Fijians - Indians and Pakistanis, for after all, like their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, these Indo-Fijians came to Fiji as indentured labourers and as merchants and traders to the Pacific Islands.
 
Instead of launching and lunging at Australia and New Zealand, the dictator should deport his illegal Attorney-General Aiyaz, Sayed Khaiyum, to Pakistan, and all other Indo-Fijians to India. For if we are to accept the dictator's reasoning, these people dont belong to Fiji.
 
As for the dictator, he should remain in China. God Help Fiji.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recent Bainimarama interviews had 'terrifying implications'

Opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu

"Full of holes” are the words Frank Bainimarama used to describe the Vanuatu prime minister's comments about his (Bainimarama) position as the chairman of the MSG meeting in Nadi. 

I assume from this comment, that we are restricted to travelling on parallel paths until 2014, if the pressure from the bigger players like the United Nations, UNHRC, Commonwealth, Australia and New Zealand is not intensified.

The whole interview (ed comments: see earlier posting on Sydney Morning Herald story) was curved, crooked and in parts fragmented from the truth, while in other part, had terrifying implications. 

We have now heard that he doesn’t trust the people, the very ones he wants to give equal opportunities to. Will he provide this level playing field for races, businesses, and politics with the help of people who only listen to him? Will it also be overseen by the military? 

Equal opportunity in my view has to be a product of proper consultation with stakeholders, an inventorial review of resources and proper mapping of its usage across the board, and its guidelines are to be Constitutional.

What is going to happen according to this alarming comment in my view, is that, “the better Fiji” he has envisaged for us is the one he will conceptualize. It could also mean that there will always be compartmentalized rules where people cannot test their full potential. If he doesn’t trust the people, he will structure his rules accordingly.

In his own words he has stated that he had to silence the Chiefs and the Church, to achieve the reforms. The reporter rightly voiced that he hasn’t been tested in his mental conceptions, to which he replied that “as long as they are doing the right thing for the people”, than all is well. 

That is a weak justification of human rights abuse where one cannot voice his opinion about his/her welfare. There is the parallel path again, where we will remain voiceless until 2014.

Bainimarama is also is moving away from the dialogue process, choosing not to try and have the Pacific Islands Forum engage in multilateral talks. He said that “they didn’t get out voluntarily, so they will not be asking to go back in”.

That is foolish; again as the decision could be very different if trade stakeholders, tourism or sporting bodies had a say in the matter. The decision should have been economically orientated rather than uttered with a hint of spite as evident in its delivery.

We will continue to travel on different paths, as he is adamant that his reforms are more important than the economy, poverty, human rights and all the problems we have in Fiji. That alone, at first glance is, in my view, a plan that is full of holes.

The reporter told Bainimarama that Samoa did not attend the MSG meeting in Natadola. He replied “Samoa is not part of the MSG”. Neither is Tuvalu but they were there.

Yes, there are holes everywhere; the two sides are just looking at them differentl.

Editor's note: We have had some comments from people trying to contact us directly recently. Please send us a message on Facebook. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bainimarama: We'll need to shut some people up

SYDNEY (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji's self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama says only the military can get his country back to democracy - and "we'll need to shut some people up".

Commodore Bainimarama, who is also Fiji's military leader, says he doesn't trust politicians, judges or the public to return to democracy.

"I don't trust the people," he told ABC television's
Foreign Correspondent tonight.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup and has delayed elections, sacked judges and cracked down on the media, sparking a bitter row with Australia.

He justified his clampdown on media freedom by saying that some media outlets understood his regime's need to bring about reforms before democracy could be installed.

"They understood that at some stage we'll need to shut some people up, and stop this from bringing about instability," he said.

"Those reforms will never happen if we open everything out to every Tom, Dick and Harry to have their say."

Commodore Bainimarama said he had silenced the Methodist Church and some chiefs because they were politicised and had been misleading the nation.

"I need to have them silenced," he said.

The region's pre-eminent regional group, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), is meeting in Vanuatu this week but Fiji has been suspended.

Commodore Bainimarama said he did not want to be in the group because it was subject to infighting, and Australia and New Zealand were dominating it.

"They crept in slowly like the proverbial camel, you know, with their head in, and then the front legs, and then the back legs, and all of a sudden the owners of the tent were out and they were inside the tent," he said.

He said Australia and New Zealand were "not Pacific islanders" and should not be in the PIF.

Commodore Bainimarama reiterated his plan to reform Fiji's constitution to be free of racial politics, and hold elections in 2014.

He would not be drawn on whether he would run for prime minister, saying he could not make that decision now.

Fiji's constitution sought to set aside some seats for ethnic blocks. At the heart of Fiji's trouble lies a power struggle involving the large Fijian Indian community and different indigenous groups.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Foreign Correspondent profile on Fiji's junta leader

Frank Bainimarama wears a party hat
By Phillipa McDonald
Uncensored: Frank Bainimarama talks to Foreign Correspondent (ABC News)
On the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama says there is no place at the table for Australia and New Zealand.

In recent weeks Fiji's military dictator has been making it known he is no fan of the Australian Government. 
He has expelled a second senior diplomat from Suva and even threatened to shut down the Australian High Commission in Suva.

At the same time though, Commodore Bainimarama has invited the ABC's Foreign Correspondent into his home to show he is not just a military dictator.

The military strongman of Fiji rarely speaks to foreign journalists, but at his grandson's fifth birthday party Commodore Bainimarama was showing he is a relaxed family man.

"We are shown in TV, in the papers everyday as dictators, dictators in the sense that [we are] going around abusing the power that we have. That doesn't happen here," he said.
"I am a military man but what does dictator mean to you?"

It is more than three-and-a-half years since Commodore Bainimarama took control of Fiji in a military coup.
Last year he scrapped the constitution. 

Now he is ruling Fiji by a series of decrees and he has largely managed to silence his critics in the Methodist Church and The Great Council of Chiefs.

"I keep harping about bringing the changes and we can't bring about changes if there are people that are still talking about bringing in instability," he said. 


"Because if we do that, I can tell you we open this to the public, we'll never have election in 2014. I tell you that. That I can guarantee you. "I don't trust the people." 

Yet Commodore Bainimarama still wants to been seen as a man of the people.
Fiji's media is censored, but he has allowed Foreign Correspondent in to film the censors at work in one of Fiji's major daily newspapers. His recent ban on foreign ownership of the media means the News Limited-owned Fiji Times is set to close within two months, but Commodore Bainimarama is unapologetic.

"I'll be glad that people like the Fiji Times will no longer be here," he said. "We'll have our ownership of the papers, so we'll have at least some support for what we're trying to do."

But as Pacific leaders meet in Vanuatu this week, Commodore Bainimarama will not be there. Fiji has been suspended from the forum. And if he had his way, Australia and New Zealand would not be represented either.

"You are metropolitan powers. When you vote in the UN, you vote for different issues altogether," he said. "When you take us to go and talk about climate change, you're fighting on a different base, you're fighting for something else, not us."

Meanwhile Australia continues to urge Fiji to return to democracy and Commodore Bainimarama is not ruling out running for prime minister, come his promised elections in 2014.

FijiLive going offline line 'murky'

Pacific Beat, Radio Australia
Updated August 2, 2010 09:16:16

The Fijilive website, one of the largest in Fiji, has been pulled from the internet following a report filed on the website last week alleging the suspension of the police commissioner which is assumed to have breached Fiji's new media decree.

Fijilive's news editor Richard Naidu was taken in on Friday by Fiji's Criminal Investigations Department and was detained overnight. Police spokeswoman Ema Dimila says that "police will not hesitate to take action against those who do not abide by the media decree".

Fijilive is currently not included in the list of media organisations announced on Friday to have registered under the media decree by interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. 

Pacific Beat has sought comment from Fiji's police and interim government but has been unable to have either body accept the invitation.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Russell Hunter, former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Sun who now lives in Samoa after being expelled from Fiji in 2008


HUNTER: It was news to me and most of my contacts in Fiji, as you know there are military censors in every news room. Now quite how that one got past the censors is a bit of a mystery, but I imagine some censors are being questioned also.

COUTTS: Now Fijilive is not on the list at the moment. That would have been their choice not to be included and pay the licence fee?

HUNTER: Well, we don't know that. I only know what Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says. He says that they did not submit the required documentation. Whether that is true or not we don't know, because nobody has been able to talk to the proprietor of Fijilive which is Yashwant Gaunder and even if someone did, the story would be unlikely again to get past the censors.

COUTTS: Well, what are you hearing about this through your contacts?

HUNTER: What I'm hearing is very little I'm afraid. There is great fear amongst Fiji's journalists to contact people overseas, such as myself. The oversight of the junta is all pervasive and people are very, very careful. Nevertheless, there is some information which doesn't really help us much, people are saying they don't know.

COUTTS: Are you surprised that this has happened now? Some would have thought that the surprise is didn't happen sooner?

HUNTER: I am quite surprised actually. I thought if that story was in fact broadcast, I personally did not see it, but I would have expected immediate action, not a few days later.

COUTTS: Now Yashwant Gaunder, is the owner of the organisation. He's been a person of interest to the interim regime for sometime. What do you know about that?

HUNTER: Yeah, I believe that's true. The reasons behind it are murky to put it mildly. It's difficult to see just exactly what he's done to attract that attention shall we say. The website seems to be following the rules. It was censured anyway like everything else. It's a bit of a mystery.

COUTTS: At the outset, the interim regime said that once the media decree was introduced that the censors in the newsrooms would no longer be needed, but that doesn't seem to be happening?

HUNTER: Well yeah, exactly. It's like so many promises that have been made. Nobody takes them seriously anymore.

COUTTS: And what do you think the state of the media is in Fiji at the moment from people you've been talking to?

HUNTER: It's in a very bad way. Reporters are scared, they have been threatened, that has not stopped. The threat now of course is a large fine or imprisonment if they step out of line, but it's very, very difficult for those people there.

COUTTS: But it's falling in a way in the lap of the interim regime. This is precisely what they want. They want the media to be scared, so that there is no reporting of what happens and look what happens if you do?

HUNTER: Yes, that is exactly right. They tried physical threats and intimidation and that didn't work, so hence we have the media decree.

COUTTS: What can be done now when the major organisations are being asked to leave or close down like News Limited are there few alternatives now beyond blogging?

HUNTER: That's exactly right and other newspapers around the region web sites such as ours at the Samoa Observer. People in Fiji are increasingly turning to these to try and find out what is going on at home, because we know that their own media cannot inform them.

Editor's Note: FijiLive came back online yesterday with the junta insisting it had nothing to do with it being offline.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fiji Pine pays $1.6 million back to FNPF


Fiji Pine Limited has paid off a $1.6m loan note it took from the Fiji National Provident Fund.

The total payment including interest amounting to $1,666,000 was paid on 30 July 2010.

The loan matured in July 2009 - however due to Fiji Pine’s poor cash-flow position at the time, a one year extension was taken, guaranteed by the Government.

Fiji Pine Limited Chairman, Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara says their current debt level is a major concern.

He says the company was not able to service its debt repayments due to the poor business performance and negligence of previous management.

This he says resulted in significant interest penalties charged by lenders.

Mara says the company’s poor cash flow position in the past has limited their progress.

The current board and management have carried out various restructure within the company to improve business performance and to ensure the long term sustainability of the Pine industry.
-Stanley Simpson, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Fijilive back online with junta saying it was not behind the closure

By Stanley Simpson for the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

The closure of the Fiji Live website was not due to any interference from the Ministry of Information or the Fiji Police, according to the Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns. 
Smith John says a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation saying the government had closed the website down was another example of journalists reporting without getting the facts.
 
She says no government agency, including the Fiji Police, were responsible for the closure of the Fiji Live website.

Smith-Johns says Fiji Live has clarified that they themselves took down the website.

Fiji Live sources FBC News spoke to say they missed the deadline to register under the new Media Decree and registered one day late.

They say they took the website down while their application was processed and were notified that their registration was approved over the weekend.

Government says Fiji Live lodged its registration with the Media Industry Development Authority of Fiji on Thursday the 29th of July.

Their name was not mentioned on Friday by the Attorney General when he announced the names of Media organizations that had registered.

Smith-Johns says Fiji Live has freely admitted that they took down the Fiji Live website on their own accord.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fiji Live still offline after questioning of news editor

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation and Pacific Media Watch.
(Posted August 1)

SUVA: Leading independent web-based Fiji news service Fijilive.com was still offline early today after police questioned its news editor. 

Fijilive was left off the new media registry and its news outlet has a whiteout with a two-word message - "website unavailable". 

According to state-run Fiji Broadcasting Corporation News, police released Fijilive news editor, Richard Naidu, yesterday after questioning him overnight Friday about a story published on the website on Thursday. 

FBC News reported Naidu was taken in on Friday by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). The radio network said in a story bylined by Elenoa Osborne: 

Director CID Adi Sen says they questioned Naidu overnight and released him at about 11am today [Saturday]. 

Naidu was questioned over a story alleging the suspension of the Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni.
Police say the story was incorrect. 

Fiji’s Public Emergency Regulations remain in place. 

On Friday, the Fiji military-backed government named media groups that had registered as required under the new Fiji Media Industry Development Decree 2010 - but Fijilive was surprisingly not included. 

The membership of the new Media Industry Development Authority was also named.

Chaudhry seeks bail variation at second court appearance


By Paradise Tabucala for Fiji Village
(Posted july 30)

Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry appeared in the Suva High Court this afternoon charged with 12 counts of alleged money laundering, tax evasion and not declaring foreign currency.

High Court Judge, Justice Daniel Goundar has adjourned the case after Chaudhry's lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry informed the court that they had just received full disclosures in relation to the case at 1.15pm this afternoon and the matter was set for mention in Court at 2pm.

Chaudhry's lawyer told Justice Goundar that both him and the accused needed time to go over the disclosures and due to the complexity of the case, they need time as they would be objecting to certain particulars in the charges.

Justice Goundar has deferred the matter to next Friday to give the accused and his lawyer time to go over the disclosures before entering a plea.

Justice Goundar also told Chaudhry's lawyer that he will not take into account the not guilty plea of the accused until they have gone through the disclosures.

Meanwhile, Justice Goundar also informed Chaudhry's lawyer that the application for bail variation would not be considered as a proper plea has not been entered.

Chaudhry is seeking a bail variation as he needs to travel to Sydney on the 21st of September.

Part of his bail conditions is that he report once a week at the Suva Point Police Post and surrender his passport.

It is alleged that Chaudhry between 1st November 2000 to 23rd July this year failed to follow procedures when investing in certain institutions overseas, also not declaring that he had Australian currency with him and also allegedly giving false statement in his tax return forms.

The amount alleged in the case is $1.5 million Australian.
 
Chaudhry will appear in Court on the 6th of next month.


Picture credit: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Phone users have just days to register as required under draconian decree

Time is running out for telephone users - mobile and landline -  to register their details with their service providers as required under the Telephone Services Decree 2010.

The Compulsory Customer Registration was made following a submission by the head of the Justice Ministry, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, early last month.
 
Sayed-Khaiyum claims a significant number of telephone users are making bogus and threatening calls, including bomb threats thus diverting and wasting public resources.

"They have been impersonating government ministers to obtain certain privileges and have threatened the lives of Government ministers in an attempt to deter ministers from the execution of their official duties.

"There is also a growing concern at the likelihood of mobile phones being used for money laundering and the planning and execution of crimes."

But critics question the motives of Sayed-Khaiyum and the way the decree will work.

Opinion piece Suliasi Daunitutu:

Why does Vodafone require fingerprints and details of how you make your livelihood when the Telephone decree doesn't require it?

And why doesn't Vodafone put the form up on their website? 

Compare the information requested by Vodafone and Innk and what  section 3 requires from all existing customers:

 
a) name and date of birth as appears on the birth certificate
b) permanent home address or address if visiting Fiji
c) copy of valid photo id
d) signature of  parent or guardian if under 18.

 
The Telephone Decree is an excuse for the interim government to create a database on everyone who use telephones and therefore collect information for FIRCA.

Additional info required by Vodafone but not by the Decree are:

a) nationality
b) postal address
c) occupation/means of livelihood
d) employer 
e) business/employer address
f) left hand thumbprint
g) PIN number for the phone (which the user usually sets on his or her own)

h) Father's name

Vodafone is also collecting the following information on a voluntary basis:

a) religion 

b) language
c) hobbies
d) occupation

In Section 3, it requires all existing telephone owners (both cellphones and landlines) to register the information required to their service provider (Vodafone, Digicel, Telecom Fiji) within a month from the coming into force of the Decree. 

 
Since March 2010, the Ministry of Defence required all service providers to take fingerprints, copy photo ID of all new customers buying phones. This Decree now requires ALL existing customers of cell and landline phones to now register their details or their phone lines will be cut off. The service provider commits an offence ($200,000 fine) if they continue to provide telephony services to a customer who hasn’t registered the required details. 

 
Section 7 of the Decree requires customers to inform their service provider if their details change (change of address etc).

 
Section 8 requires a customer to infom their service provider if their phone is stolen, lost or destroyed, or if they give their phone away as a gift. 

 
If as a customer you provide "false and misleading information", there will be a $10,000 fine or 1 year imprisonment or both.  You must also immediately register any change in the registration information (change in your birthdate?) or be subjected to a fine of $10k or 6 months imprisonment. 

 
Editor's Note: Both Vodafone and Telecom Fiji Ltd have said customers who register late will not be charged.