Economy Sliding Further As Qarase Clings To Power
Issue No: 606 20 March 2001
The Fijian economy is sliding further down as the country has been gripped by another round of political instability.
By rejecting the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal, and by continuing to violate the laws of the land, the Qarase regime has sealed Fiji's fate as one where there is no respect for law and order and investments are risky.
Numerous investors have stated that as they were awaiting the response of the ethnic Fijian elite to the court decision, they had put their investment plans on hold. But now that they have seen the response, they will no longer invest in Fiji.
Since coming into power not a single major new investment has started in Fiji. Now even small investments have been taken off the shelves.
Media also reports the Fiji Trade and Investment Board as saying that investment is not taking place because of political instability in the country. In the same breadth, however, the Chief Executive of the FTIB also defended Qarase's hold onto power. But this defence can be explained in terms of the CEO's personal interest. The CEO, Jesoni Vitusaqavulu, has been one of the major beneficiaries of the corruption scandal involving the Fijian Holdings Ltd and the Fiji Development Bank. Qarase was the Managing Director of the Development bank for many years. (see: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/docs_c/fijian_holdings_fdb_details.htm )
Media reports that more factories are closing. The large Forum Shoes factory has already closed its Ba plant. And it has reduced the number of workers in its Lautoka plants. Another major factory is facing closure.
Tourist arrivals have continued to remain extremely low. This is despite the many millions which the regime and the industry have spent on promotions abroad. Today's
Fiji Times also states the Fiji Hotel Association as saying that tourist bookings have declined.
With the increasing lay-offs, the rising number of school dropouts, and the spiralling price levels, poverty in the country has been rising since Qarase usurped power. Qarase, on the other hand, has continued to squander public funds with the largest cabinet in Fiji's history, and rampant use of funds to buy ethnic Fijian support.
Qarase manufactures and manipulates racial tension Issue No: 605 20 March 2001
Regime Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase manufactures and manipulates racial tension to advance his self-serving agenda, says the elected Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs Adi Kuini Speed.
In a statement she said there can never be peace and stability in Fiji until everyone abides by the rule of law and our leaders respect and follow the law. She stated that to do otherwise would mean a continuation of civil disorder and a further breakdown of traditional values.
Adi Kuini also stated that Fiji had every available opportunity to return to genuine constitutional democracy. But the authorities failed to follow this path. She said that while pretending to work within law, Qarase and his group "have actually broken their promise to the Fiji Court of Appeal that they would abide by its decision. And the President, by not following the decision of the court in upholding the 1997 Constitution has illegally exceeded his constitutional authority. The people of Fiji are once again being denied their constitutional right to have their elected representatives speak on their behalf in Parliament.
Adi Kuini also assailed the call for ethnic Fijian unity. She stated: "The call for [ethnic] Fijian unity at this time should be seen for what it really is - a racist political stunt to further the ends of a few at the expense of nearly all the people of Fiji, including nearly all indigenous Fijians. Regrettably we have again reached a stage in Fiji where legitimacy appears to depend upon the use of a gun"
Qarase is power hungry, lawless, dishonest, says CCF Issue No: 604 20 March 2001
The Citizens Constitutional Forum has called the Qarase team power hungry, lawless and dishonest.
In an article appearing in today's Fiji Sun, the CCF's Jone Dakuvula states:
"Laisenia Qarase and his colleagues have proved themselves to be just a bunch of power hungry, lawless and dishonest gang. Desperate to hang on to power regardless of the fact that the people of Fiji have elected Parliamentary representatives who are ready and willing to replace them. Qarase's gang want to stay on so that they can use the advantage of state resources to prepare themselves to form a Fijian nationalist party to contest the General Elections. They will campaign on the `Blueprint for indigenous Fijians and Rotumans'".
Dakuvula also assailed the Blueprint as merely a raft of promises. He stated: "It is a programme for carrying on the reckless unaccountable expenditures of public funds to prop a small group of indigenous Fijians who want to hang on to the privileges of power at any cost. It is a shameless display of greed and cynical disrespect for the laws of this country".
Momoedonu appointment is patronage, nepotism Issue No: 603 20 March 2001
The appointment of Ratu Tevita Momoedonu as "Prime Minister" of Fiji by the then Acting President Ratu Josefa Iloilo last week, has been called patronage and nepotism.
The comments were made by former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Alliance Government Minister Tomasi Vakatora on Fiji TV news last night.
Ratu Tevita is the nephew of Ratu Josefa Iloilo; Ratu Tevita's mother is Ratu Josefa's sister.
By appointing him to the position of "Prime Minister", even for less than a day, Ratu Josefa has enabled his nephew to collect a lifetime pension of $700 per fortnight.
Prime Ministerial emoluments entitlements have it that a Prime Minister who has served for less than a year is entitled to a lifetime pension of 20% of the Prime Minister level salary.
The pension `entitlement' has been condemned widely in Fiji. Many view it as another of the numerous scams of corruption one finds in Fiji now.
Today's Fiji Times has also condemned the right to the pension claim which Ratu Tevita Momoedonu has made. NGO's like the Fiji Trades Union Congress and the Fiji First Movement have also condemned the act.
Momoedonu's purported appointment, which was unconstitutional, is expected to be the subject of a court case now.
Patronage, nepotism and corruption have skyrocketed in Fiji since Qarase came to power. So much so that this has become a major disincentive to investment in the country.
Meanwhile numerous members of the Qarase regime are closely related to one another.
It has also been recently revealed that numerous senior civil servants who played prominent roles in the destabilisation of the elected government are also closely related to one another, and to a prominent politician whose party lost the last election.