NZ PM And Foreign Affairs Minister Are Despicable
NZ PM And Foreign Affairs Minister Are Despicable, Says Regime
Issue No: 196; 12 November 2000
The Prime Minister of New Zealand Ms. Helen Clarke and the Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff have come under heavy fire from the interim regime in Fiji.
Interim Information Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola stated: "Phil Goff and his leader Helen Clarke are despicable examples of New Zealanders".
Kubuabola was responding to the NZ government position that it does not want to legitimise the unelected regime of Fiji. The position was expressed after NZ refused to welcome a trade delegation from Fiji to be led by Interim regime Commerce Minister Tomasi Veutilovoni. Explaining the rejection, the NZ High Commissioner in Fiji, Tia Barrett stated: "The New Zealand Government has made it clear that at this stage, they wouldn't entertain an official trade mission, on exchange visit, or contact. This has been a longstanding decision". Barrett further stated: "My Government does not want to deal with anyone in an undemocratic, unelected administration".
In his typical style, Kubuabola told today's Sunday Post that he was requesting the interim Foreign Affairs Minister, Kaliopate Tavola to seek explanations from the NZ High Commissioner on recent statements and actions emanating from his government. He stated: "Why doesn't he [Goff] come out in the open and say that the current NZ Government only wants its Labour counterparts in Fiji to be in power despite the wishes of the nation's Great Council of Chiefs and President? As for Helen Clarke the Prime Minister of New Zealand, she can congratulate herself for leading a government that perpetuates colonial supremacy in a region that is shackling off traces of that. Is it any wonder that Fiji finds it so difficult finding the most realistic solution to its problems when you have leaders of a neighbouring country breathing down our necks and abusing our people and our institutions at every chance they get".
It is apparent that the Kubuabola outburst emanates from his frustrations at his name being on the list of persons who cannot travel to NZ, Australia, US and UK.
One visiting foreign journalist stated that it was unbelievable that a government minister in this day and age would use words like those used by Kubuabola against the elected leaders of another country.
Kubuabola's statements confirm the view of many that he is deliberately placing spanners in the work of Qarase to portray an image of Fiji which is positive. It is believed that the Qarase cabinet is itself thoroughly divided on many issues, including the treatment of the terrorists, foreign relations, and land matters.
INTERIM REGIME SHOULD RESIGN
Issue No: 195; 12 November 2000
The interim regime should take cognisance of recent High Court pronouncements that in the absence of any ruling to the contrary, the 1997 Constitution remains in place.
As such, the Qarase regime has no legitimacy. It is unconstitutional and has no authority to stay in power, collect taxes, disburse public funds and make, amend or revoke legislations. Nor does it have the right to receive salaries, allowances and other privileges from the public purse.
Indeed, the interim ministers are usurpers of power. By continuing to hold office illegally, they are no different from those responsible for the overthrow of the democratically elected government.
Instead of threatening violence to remain in office, Mr. Qarase and his cabinet should do the proper thing and step down from office.
It the more than 3 months of its illegal rule, the Qarase regime has failed to provide stability in the country as evidenced by continuing unrest and the worrying law and order situation.
Fiji is now more unstable and fragmented than ever before.
The regime's actions have caused a serious rift within the Fijian society. It's discriminatory policies against the Indian community has left them feeling marginalised and frustrated.
The regime's lack of concern for the plight of the poor has swelled the ranks of those living in poverty as seen in the increasing number of people who now beg in our streets.
The interim ministers' only achievement so far is to take good care of themselves through pay hikes, purchase of luxury vehicles an din ensuring their own personal safety and security at State expense.
Issue No: 194; 12 November 2000
The People's Coalition Government reiterates its call for proper criminal investigations to be conducted into allegations of Police Commissioner Isikia Savua's complicity in the May 19 terrorist activities.
The Tuivaga Inquiry's reported exoneration of Police Commissioner Savua lacks credibility in the light of the massive evidence implicating him in the events associated with the coup.
The Coalition had earlier questioned the propriety of a closed-door inquiry for such serious allegations.
It was quite wrong in the first place for the authorities to appoint the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaqa, to head the inquiry. Sir Timoci's own conduct immediately following the coup has been questioned widely.
Events since have proved the Coalition right as evidenced by criticisms levelled at Sir Timoci by a judge of the High Court and the President of the Fiji Law Society.
The Chief Justice has been condemned for assisting with the drafting of the Judicature Decree which abolished the Supreme Court, made him quite unethically, President of the Fiji Court of Appeal and raised his retirement age from 70 to 75 years - all these provisions were intended for Sir Timoci's personal benefit and aggrandisement.
The People's Coalition calls on the authorities to ensure that Mr. Savua is not returned as Police Commissioner in view of the high degree of hostility with which he is viewed by police officers.
Just as importantly, he no longer commands the confidence and trust of the public at large.
Rising cost of living; poor most affected
No. 193; 10 November 2000
The rising cost of living in Fiji since May this year is having the most dramatic effect on the poor of the country. The interim regime's policies are aimed at totally nullifying the achievements of the People's Coalition government in terms of reducing prices of essential food items.
Recent trends show that prices of all essential items have increased significantly sine May. Powdered milk is one example whose price increased by over 20% during the past 5 months. Other commodities like canned food, rice, and meat have all seen prices rising.
These are all attributed to the deliberate lack of concern of the interim regime to the plight of the poor in the nation.
During much of the reign of the People's Coalition, inflation rates were in negative figures. The declining cost of food, housing, and electricity were largely responsible for this.
From Negative to Positive Inflation Rates
The inflation rates have again now become positive with most significant price increases recorded on essential food items.
The People's Coalition has also brought another 17 items under price control effective 19 May. But one of the first things which the Qarase regime did was to remove this price control order.
The items included in the list were: milk (baby milk, powdered, evaporated and condensed milk), liquid milk, imported butter, all types of jams, frozen chicken, sheep meat (mutton/lamb etc.), corned beef and mutton, tinned fish, dried leguminous vegetables (like dhal), edible oil, garlic, ghee,, margarine, noodles, onions, potatoes, rice, salt, sugar, medicine/drugs, petroleum products, bathing soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry soap, soap powder, toothbrush, matches, spices, preparations for making beverages like coffee, ovaltine, cocoa, milo, baby food formulae, baby powder, oil, soap and cream, sanitary pads, imported tea, cell batteries.
This would have seen another round of significant reduction in prices of these item and the inflation rates. Further macreconomic consequences from this would have followed for example, further reduction in interest rates, greater consumer demand for durables, more employment, etc.
Under the Qarase regime, there have been two rounds of fuel price increases - within 5 months, we see fuel prices rise by 17%. This will further fuel increases in transportation costs, taxi fares, carrier charges, etc.
While dabbling in blatant racism, the present regime is continuing with its anti-people policies. The victims of the anti-people policies are people of all ethnic groups.
In contrast, the People's Coalition had put in place numerous pro-people policies. These included:
* REMOVAL of VAT
VAT was removed from a number of essential food items. Customs duties on some essential food items were also reduced. These essential food items were: powdered milk, flour/sharps, rice, tinned fish, edible oil, tea leaves. On average the prices of these items fell by 17%.
* WATER RATES REDUCED
Water rate was reduced by 10 percent effective last year. The Peoples Coalition Government was also looking at improving the efficiency of the water supply department thereby allowing for further reduction in the water rates. In addition, the water billing system was being studied with the aim of changing to monthly billing rather than quarterly billing which would have further reduced water bills. The privatization of the water supplies department was also stopped, preventing any pressure to increase water rates.
* ELECTRICITY RATES REDUCED
Beginning August last year, electricity rates were reduced by 1.5c per unit. This was about 7% reduction in the electricity bills for consumers. Another reduction by 1.5c per unit was to begin from 1 August this year - which incidentally is today - bringing the total reduction to 14%. The Government had also reversed the restructuring process in FEA saving the taxpayers tax thousands of dollars.
* FEE-FREE EDUCATION
Beginning this year, Form Four education was made fee-free. In addition, final exam fees for high schools were to be gradually scrapped. The Government had established an Education Commission to look into improving the education system in Fiji.
* HOUSING AUTHORITY INTERESTS REDUCED
The Peoples Coalition Government had reduced the Housing Authority interest rates from 11.5% to 6% for borrowers with family incomes less than $6,500. The government was planning extending the income category qualifying for the low interest rates from $6,500 to $9,000 from 1 September 2000. Within the term of its government, the Peoples Coalition had planned to reduce Housing Authority interest rates to 6% for all its clients. This was to be done without any subsidy or burden on the taxpayers. In addition, workers who lost their jobs had their loans frozen for upto 6 months without any interest charge.
* COMMERCIAL BANK RATES REDUCED
Prudent financial management by the Peoples Coalition had seen the commercial banks also reducing their lending rates this year. Included in these reductions was reduction in home loan rates as well.
* NEGATIVE INFLATION RATES
The Peoples Coalition government had successfully reduced inflation rates. The average inflation rate for the months November last year to April this year was in the negative figures. This meant that prices in Fiji had declined.
* FUEL PRICES CONTAINED
The Peoples Coalition Government had managed very successfully to contain fuel price increases. The practice of basing fuel price increases on un-audited financial statements of fuel companies was put to a stop. In addition, the Peoples Coalition Government was doing a major review of the fuel procurement and pricing structure. All these would have seen fuel prices which would have been affordable.
There were numerous other pro-people policies which were to be contained in the National Development Plan which was to be launched in July. The Peoples Coalition government had, through prudent financial management, a surplus in the 2000 budget to the tune of $47m for the first quarter of 2000. The revenue trends were much better than expected. Careful expenditure management would have seen massive savings. All these were to be channeled to benefit the people through a better social package in the next Peoples Coalition budget. The People's Coalition had also created the healthy foreign reserves positions which is now sustaining the nation.
In contrast, under the Qarase regime:
· The price control order on the 17 items has been lifted;
· Fuel prices have been increased significantly;
· Inflation is climbing higher;
· Commercial bank interests have been increased;
· Food prices have been rising; and
· Electricity rates have not been reduced.
The poor people of Fiji, whether these be ethnic Fijian or ethnic Indian, or others, will all feel the brunt of the anti-people policies of the Qarase team.
END 10 November