Category Archives: Opinion Pieces

10 July 2015: Text of Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Opposition Member, Hon Prem Singh to review the Capital Gains Tax Act of 2014

Note: The Motion was defeated in favour of the Government side with 16 Opposition Members voting in support of it, 27 Government Members opposing it, and 7 Members of Parliament not voting (absent at the time of the Vote).

View the results of the Vote here.


 

Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Opposition Member, Hon Prem Singh to review the Capital Gains Tax Act of 2014. Please check against delivery.

Madam Speaker…

I move the following Motion: –
“That this Parliament supports a review of the Capital Gains Tax Act of 2014 to streamline its provisions of CGT Exemption for gifting of Assets amongst immediate family members in accordance with Hon. Minister of Finance’s 2015 Budget announcement of 21st November 2014.”

Madam Speaker, on Thursday 11th December, Parliament passed an Act to amend the Capital Gains Tax Decree 2011 – Act Number 11 of 2014. The Capital Gains Tax (Budget Amendment) Act was given the Assent by His Excellency the President on 15th December 2014.

Madam Speaker this was one of the 15 Bills brought to Parliament by the Attorney General and Minister for Finance on 11th December last year under Sanding Orders 51(2), which is to consider them without delay. Parliament was asked to pass all the 15 Bills after an overall 5 minute time limit to each side of Parliament for debating the Bills.

Now Madam Speaker, we can recall from Hansard of the day that the Opposition strongly protested against the motion of the Attorney General to proceed to consider the Bills without delay on the basis of why the same Bills were withdrawn by him earlier. I will allude to what happened on that day and why it is important for Parliament to agree to the Review based on the process that was adopted.

Now Madam Speaker on Friday 21st November 2014, the Attorney General and Minister for Finance handed down the 2015 Budget in Parliament. The title oF the Budget was “Turning Promises into Deeds”.

On page 240 of the Hansard of 21st November on the 2015 Appropriation Bill under the sub-heading of Housing, the A G and Minister for Finance stated and I quote, “Government from next year will also exempt from Capital Gains Tax any transfer of assets in cases of love and affection – that is, transfers from parents to children, between spouses and within and between grandchildren and grandparents and between siblings”. – Unquote

Madam Speaker , allow me to repeat this announcement by the Minister for Finance in his Budget: –
“Government from next year will also exempt from Capital Gains Tax any transfer of assets in cases of love and affection – that is, transfers from parents to children, between spouses and within and between grandchildren and grandparents and between siblings”. And I place strong emphasis on the words “any asset”.

Madam Speaker, this announcement was whole heartedly welcomed by Fijians and our Financial Sector. In accordance with post-Budget tradition, reaction is swift from the Financial Sector, especially from our prominent and reputable Accounting Firms, who analyse, publish and publicly release their synopsis.
PWC – Price Waterhouse Coopers analysed the announcement as
1. Exempt CGT on Transfers on Love and Affection
2. Exempt CGT on gain made from sale of shares for private companies listed in the South Pacific Stock Exchange

Again Madam Speaker, I emphasise Transfers.

Another firm, Ernst & Young made similar analysis, “Exemption on Transfers – Love and Affection Transfers for all those eligible under the Love and Affection Criteria. Again emphasis is on Transfers.

Similarly Madam Speaker, another reputable firm, KPMG, made exactly the same analysis, which is “Exemption of CGT (Capital Gains Tax) on love and affection transfers”. Again emphasis is on Transfers”.

But Madam Speaker Bill Number 23 of 2014 which was enacted into the Capital Gains Tax (Budget Amendment) Act of 2014 is distinctly different from what the Attorney General and Minister for Finance announced on 21st November 2014.

The Act (formerly Bill No. 23) amends Section 7 of the Capital Gains Tax Decree 2011 (on Exemptions) by inserting amongst others, this new paragraph and I quote, “A capital gain made by a resident upon the disposal of a principal place of residence, shares or shares in a company, by way of love and affection between spouses, siblings, parents to children and vice versa, and grandchildren to grandparents and vice versa”.

Madam Speaker, this is distinctly different from what was announced by the Attorney General and Minister for Finance while handling down the 2015 Budget on 21st November 2014, which is “exemption of Capital Gains from ANY TRANSFER OF ASSETS in cases of love and affection”.

ANY TRANSFER OF ASSETS changed into principal place of residence in Bill No. 23 of 2014 that became the Capital Gains Tax (Budget Amendment) Act of 2014 or Act No. 11 of 2014.

Based on the announcement by the Attorney General and Minister for Finance, many of our citizens, mostly elderly, who are in the twilight years of their lives, with little financial savings but who in their wisdom and through sheer hard work, acquired assets such as land, wanted to transfer them to their children oR other loved ones, on the understanding they will be exempt from paying Capital Gains Tax. And these assets are not of any astronomical financial worth but a small block of land for example.

Madam Speaker, I know of a case of a 74 year old who transferred a small block of land to his son but was charged CGT by FRCA – Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority. When the gentleman enquired with FRCA, he was informed that the exemption of CGT only applies to principal place of residence. This gentleman told FRCA the Attorney General had announced otherwise in his Budget, but was shown the Capital Gains Act which did not contain what was announced on 21st November 2014.

Madam Speaker, We on this side of the House cannot be blamed for failure. The fact is that when Bill No. 23 – one of the 15 Bills was brought before Parliament on 11th December 2014, we strongly protested against the manner in which the A G wanted them scrutinised and enacted without delay under Standing Order 51(2). When the five minute rule was proposed, we understood it to be five minutes for each of the 15 Bills, but the Attorney General said No, you will get a total of five minutes for the entire 15 Bills.

A perusal of Hansard of December 11 2014 will confirm what I am saying, Madam Speaker. Government claimed all 15 were consequential Bills, arising out of the Budget, and were merely implementing the policy framework of the Budget. We now know that this was not the case – at least as far as the exemption of Capital Gains Tax for Any Transfers for love and affection is concerned. Little has changed from the Capital Gains Tax Amendment Decree. The Decree also exempted CGT from sale of principal place of residence. The only change is the transfer of shares. How many of our ordinary Fijians own shares, Madam Speaker?

On Thursday 11, 2014, We were accused of suffering from amnesia, amongst other things, particularly by the Attorney-General and two other colleagues, and of not understanding what a consequential legislation is.

Madam Speaker page 598 of Hansard of 11th December 2014 quotes the Attorney-General and minister for Finance as saying in his right of reply and I quote, “Capital Gains (Amendment) Decree, we are now saying that we will be exempted from Capital Gains Tax if, for love or affection, you give your property to your daughter or to your son or a grandfather giving it to his grandchildren or between spouses”. Unquote

I emphasise PROPERTY – not principal place of residence as the Act stipulates. Is this what is Government’s version of “Turning promises into deeds”, Madam Speaker? Isn’t this misleading not only the people of Fiji but this House as well? One now can understand the AG’s motive of trying to rush through 15 Bills through Parliament with the Opposition being given 5 minutes to debate all 15.

It is an abuse of parliamentary process, riding roughshod over one side of the House because the other has the numbers and telling us you have 20 seconds to scrutinise each Bill on the floor of Parliament. This is what it amounts to – being allowed 5 minutes to scrutinise 15 Bills.

Madam Speaker, The Capital Gains Tax (Budget Amendment) Act No. 11 of 2014 must be reviewed to reflect the policy change announced by the Minister for Finance on 21st November 2014. And the Finance Minister must direct FRCA to refund all Fijians who transferred any asset for love and affection to be refunded Capital Gains Tax that they were forced to pay for such transfers. Otherwise this Government would have turned promises into mis-deeds.

Madam Speaker, I commend this Motion to the House.

10 July 2015: Text of Adjournment Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Member Hon Prem Singh to request Parliament to express concern at the unfair practice of levying different fees for medical reports by the Public Hospitals, sought by citizens for compensation claims and call on the Minister for Health and Medical Services to immediately review and standardise the fees

Text of Adjournment Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Member Hon Prem Singh to request Parliament to express concern at the unfair practice of levying different fees for medical reports by the Public Hospitals, sought by citizens for compensation claims and call on the Minister for Health and Medical Services to immediately review and standardise the fees — Please check against delivery.

Madam Speaker

This motion is about the fees and charges levied by Government Hospitals for medical reports. It has been stated many times by the Prime Minister, and rightly so, that all citizens should and would be treated as equals and there shall be no discrimination based on race, gender, religion or any other reason. The constitution also provides this guarantee.

But the Ministry of Health has been practising discrimination as far as their charges are concerned for medical reports. This is especially so in the case of persons seeking reports for compensation claims.

Madam Speaker, If a person who is injured in an accident consults a Solicitor to make a compensation claim and the request for a medical report goes through a Solicitor, the charge is $287.50.

Even if a person goes directly to the Hospital and says he or she wants a report to give to his/her Solicitors for a compensation claim he/she is told to pay $287.50. If a person goes to the hospital directly and requests for a report without mentioning a Solicitor, he is told to pay $115. If he/she says the medical report is for Social Welfare the charge is $57.50.

Madam Speaker, if the report is for insurance purposes the charge is $287.50. Why are not all the people treated equally? Why is a person who is injured in, say a motor vehicle accident, and who wants to make claim though a lawyer, asked to pay the exorbitant sum of $287.50?

And if the same person goes directly and says nothing about a lawyer he/she is asked to pay $115.00 which, incidentally, is also excessive. Apart from the charges being exorbitant this is blatant discrimination.

Madam Speaker, Almost all of these people are ordinary workers and after the accident they are out of work and have no earnings. At times they have families to support and need assistance from other family members to survive. How can they afford to pay $287.50 or even $115.00? They need the medical reports to make a claim for compensation whether the injuries are through a motor vehicle accident or an industrial accident in a factory or work site. Previously the charges for medical reports used to be $5.00. This was affordable by most people.

Madam Speaker, We believe that getting compensation after injuries is part of the rehabilitative process for the patient. He/she needs compensation for rehabilitation. If the injured person does not get compensation his/her family become a burden on the state and other family members. The Government should help rehabilitation by making medical reports readily available and affordable. This is not so presently. There is discrimination and the medical reports are beyond the financial reach of those who are most vulnerable and in need of it.

Madam Speaker, it must be pointed out that it is much easier for injured parties to deal through Solicitors to obtain their medical reports than going to the hospital themselves. The reports are not given immediately upon payment of the required fees. There are a lot of chasing up to be done and enquires have to be made on numerous occasions. This is a difficult and almost impossible task for ordinary people.

They do not have access to fax machines an internet and phone calls to the hospital are of no use. They cannot be expected to travel to major urban centres go our divisional hospitals on numerous occasions to make enquiries. It is much easier for Solicitors to do that. But if a person goes through a Solicitor he/she pays $287.50.

Madam Speaker, Section 25 of the 2013 Constitution – Access to Information states:
Every person has the right of access to –
(a) Information held by any public office and
(b) Information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any legal right.

The sum of $287.50 is so prohibitive for most people that it is tantamount to a breach of the above clause. An injured person has a right to claim compensation for his injuries. His/her human right is also violated when the charges for the medical report is beyond his/her reach.

If medicine can be supplied free for those who earn less than $20,000.00 per year why charge $287.50 for a medical report and that too to a person who is down and out, injured and most likely not earning anything? No caring Government can do this.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry must standardise the charges for medical reports and drastically reduce the charges for medical reports and make them affordable to all citizens most of whom are injured and in need of compensation providing a medical report for those seeking compensation is part of rehabilitation of the patient. In our view the charges should not be more than $20.00.

10 July 2015: Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by SODELPA Member and fellow Opposition Member, Hon. Salote Radrodro to review domestic flight costs

Note: The Motion was defeated in favour of the Government side with 17 Opposition Members voting in support of it, 27 Government Members opposing it, and 6 Members of Parliament not voting (absent at the time of the Vote).

View the results of the Vote here.


 

Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by SODELPA Member and fellow Opposition Member, Hon. Salote Radrodro to review domestic flight costs. Please check against delivery.

Madam Speaker,

I rise this morning to move the motion:

“That in view of the need to provide affordable low – cost air transport services to inter island destinations that this House directs the relevant Standing Committee to:
1) Review the current domestic flight business model with a view to reduce flight costs to allow affordable low cost domestic services for the people, and
2) As an alternative, consider introducing a fare subsidy to the provider to supplement reduction in flight costs.

Madam Speaker, May I acknowledge that Government has in place plans to improve the civil aviation industry with the aim of providing safe, reliable and affordable air travel.

Madam Speaker, The intent of this motion is to present our views on what we believe should be done to ensure safe, reliable and affordable air travel within Fiji particularly in the provision of affordable low cost domestic airfares.

Madam Speaker, The Government has said that for the first time ever they have offered subsidy for the Suva – Kadavu route. This is indeed welcomed but may I ask has this really happened?

For, Madam Speaker, I note from the airfare are as follows:
From Nadi – Kadavu = $415
From Suva Kadavu = $212

Madam Speaker, this still seems too high.

Therefore, Madam Speaker, I reiterate the question “has the subsidy been really factored into the current airfares to Kadavu?

Furthermore, Madam Speaker, in relation to the subsidy for Suva Kadavu flight, I query why this route when there is less than 2 flights a week?

Madam Speaker, In contrast, there are more regular flights from Suva to Savusavu, Taveuni, and Labasa with up to 3 or 4 flights in a day. This tells us that there is a high demand for air travel as a preferred transportation mode. Unfortunately, even at this frequency the airfares are still too high.
*Suva – Savusavu = $270 (Nadi – Savusavu = $473)
Suva – Taveuni = $ 380
Suva – Labasa = $292

And so Madam Speaker, it would be more appropriate and sensible to subsidize flight routes for which there is frequent travel.

Madam Speaker I call for the need to offer low cost affordable flights to all routes.

Madam Speaker, we must note that the current service provider has a monopoly on the market for a number of years now. Essentially, profitability levels ought to be hitting breaking even point or attaining normal profit.

Madam Speaker, we must also further note that fuel prices have significantly gone down but the relative downward adjustments to airfares has not happened as should be expected.

In summary, Madam Speaker domestic airfares are still too high.

Madam Speaker, Not diminishing my earlier point and because of the irregular shipping services, the most needful areas for flight services are also the maritime areas like for Lakeba, Vanua Balavu, Cicia, Moala, Ono I Lau and Rotuma. These islands must also be afforded the opportunity for safe reliable and low cost flights.

But Madam Speaker, the flight costs to these islands are extremely high, and beyond the affordability of the common people, for example:
1) Suva to Lakeba: $566
2) Suva to Vanua Balavu: $566
3) Suva to Cicia: $543
4) Suva to Ono I Lau: $811.50
5) Nadi to Rotuma: $1279

Madam Speaker, for urgent medical attention a fisherman definitely can’t afford to pay $566 to fly to Suva but instead has to wait for the boat which comes only once a month…..if at all.

Madam Speaker, for these reasons and more, the people really need low cost airfares, and we need it now.

Therefore Madam Speaker, I urge Government to urgently consider this now – not in 2 years time or 3 years time but NOW.

Madam Speaker, This motion also calls for a review of the current service provider’s business model. In addition to reviewing the fare structure the service provider can also offer other inflight services such as the provision of moist towels and water for all domestic flights because they do not have air conditioning.

Madam Speaker, in addition and given that current service provider has a monopoly on the market they surely can afford to offer product offerings like half price airfares on certain days to low demand destinations. This can also assist tourism development within these islands.

In conclusion Madam Speaker, I beg the house to consider the points I have raised to day and request this motion be taken for consideration by the relevant Standing Committee.

With that Madam Speaker, I commend this motion to the House.

Thank you.

10 July 2015: Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Leader and Opposition Member, Professor Biman Prasad to review the decision of exclusivity in terms of advertising in one newspaper

Note: The Motion was defeated in favour of the Government side with 17 Opposition Members voting in support of it, 26 Government Members opposing it, and 7 Members of Parliament not voting (absent at the time of the Vote).

View the results of the Vote here.


 

Text of Motion for Debate as tabled by NFP Leader and Opposition Member, Professor Biman Prasad to review the decision of exclusivity in terms of advertising in one newspaper. Please check against delivery.

Madam Speaker

I rise to move the following Motion: –
“That Parliament agrees that the Minister for Communication through Cabinet immediately review the decision of exclusivity in terms of advertising in one newspaper in conformity to Sections 17, 25, 26 & 32 of the Constitution”.

Madam Speaker, at the outset let me state that Government’s decision to exclusively advertise in The Fiji Sun violates Sections 17, 25, 26 and 32 of the 2013 Constitution in respect of all those employed at The Fiji Times and the people of Fiji.

These are the Right to Freedom of speech, expression and publication, Right to Access to Information (Section 25) Right to equality and freedom from discrimination (Section 26) and the Right to economic participation (Section 32). And I will explain why these rights are violated.

Madam Speaker, We strongly believe the rights of the Fiji Times as an organisation is violated, as it is locally owned. This is totally against Government’s professed principle of equal citizenry, which it says is the cornerstone of the 2013 Constitution. Similarly the right of the people to freedom of speech, expression, thought, opinion and publication, which primarily is freedom to seek, receive and impart information, knowledge and ideas – under Section 17 of the Constitution.

Ultimately, the right of the people is suppressed in terms of denial of access to information, especially those who do not subscribe to or buy the Fiji Sun. The rights breached are Section 17 (a) (Freedom of speech, expression and publication – freedom to seek, receive and impart information, knowledge and ideas, Section 25 (Access to information).

It results in the people who predominantly buy only a single newspaper (either Fiji Times or Fiji Sun), being denied information resulting in the breach of basic rights such as right to work, economic participation, to name a few, being denied access to these advertisements. This is unacceptable.
Madam Speaker, There is no legitimate reason to deny the Fiji Times and its employees income as well as its reader’s information. With the exception of the Fijian Elections Office, which sometimes advertises in both newspapers, but mostly in the Fiji Sun.

Madam Speaker, Only recently we have seen a few advertisements on the campaign to change the flag, a lift-out on Government’s consultation for development of a 5 year and 20 year plan and vacancies of the Auditor-General and Fiji Corrections Service Commissioner.

Government and statutory organisations solely advertise in the Fiji Sun. This was a policy adopted by the military government after what it claimed was Fiji Times anti-regime stance. This was confirmed in 2010 by the then Government’s spokesman, a senior military officer ,who said in January 2010 that since 2009 all advertisements must be in the Fiji Sun.

Madam Speaker, We now have parliamentary democracy. If anything, tenders are called for any service required by Government. We are sure this was never done and still has not been done.

But for the sake of fairness, impartiality and dissemination of information in the widest possible manner, it s imperative that both newspapers are given advertisements for publication. Government is not anyone’s personal property and to use taxpayer funds for the corporate benefit of one newspaper and in the process denying people fair access to information breaches the rights of the people and the newspaper.

However Madam Speaker, even after the return to democracy following last September’s general elections, government continues its exclusivity policy in terms of advertising.

I have in possession a copy of an e-mail sent by the Department of Information to Media Liaison Officers of all Ministries and Departments. The urgent e-mail dated 18th November 2014 is self-explanatory and I quote: –

”As per Cabinet decision on Government Department and Ministries advertising with the Fiji Times, please note that only the Permanent Secretary for Information on the advice of the Minister has the authority to approve Government Departments and Ministries to advertise in the Fiji Times newspaper. Further, the approval by the Minister and the Permanent Secretary can only be made once the requesting Departments or Ministries has advised on the necessity and importance for wanting to advertise in the Fiji Times newspaper. Please bring this to the attention of your senior colleagues, in particular your Corporate Department”. – Unquote

Clearly Madam Speaker, the decision to exclude the Fiji Times is not a cost-based decision, as the e-mail shows. It is unacceptable to the readers of the Fiji Times, easily the largest newspaper in terms of circulation (and this newspaper is not distributed free unlike its competitor), and to the people of Fiji that they are excluded from Government information, vacancies, tenders and other important information.

Madam Speaker, another example of Government clearly favouring the Fiji Suneven while responding to opinions expressed through the letters to the Editor column in the Fiji Times following a news report in the newspaper about Draunibota Bay development and its potential hazards to the environment, printed in April, attracted a Government response, only through the Fiji Sun. And that too in a paid advertisement by the Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment.

Madam Speaker, we have compiled a list of some 60 government ministries, departments and statutory organisations whose advertisements appear almost on a daily basis in the Fiji Sun and comprehensively on Saturdays.

They are: –
1. Ministry of Lands
2. Ministry of Public Enterprise
3. Ministry of Tourism
4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
5. Ministry of Justice
6. AG’s Chambers
7. Ministry of Energy
8. Ministry of Health
9. Ministry of Environment, Housing & Urban Dev.
10. Min for Women & Social Welfare
11. Min of Employment Productivity and Industrial Relations
12. Min of Education
13. Min of Defence National Security and Immigration
14. TLTB
15. Commerce Commission
16. Public Trustee of Fiji
17 Govt. Shipping Services
18. Govt. Statistician
19. Controller of Govt Supplies
20. Co-operatives Dept
21. MAFF
22. Fiji Military Forces
23. Dept. Information – Communication
24. Marine Dept
25. Min. of Trade & Industry
26. Min. of Finance
27. Min. of Labour
28. Min. of Education
29. Min of Local Government and Town and Country Planning
30. Water Authority of Fiji
31. Fiji Sugar Corporation
32. Airports Fiji Ltd
33. ATS Fiji Ltd
34. Fiji Hardwood Corp.
35. Fiji Museum
36. Fiji Ports Corp.
37. Fijian Property Trust Co. Ltd
38. Dept. of Legislature
39. Tropik Wood Industries Ltd.
40. Tourism Fiji
41. National Fire Authority
42. Housing Authority
43. Reserve Bank of Fiji
44. Post Fiji
45. Fiji Electricity Authority
46. FIRCA
47. Land Transport Authority
48. Prime Minister’s Office
49. Investments Fiji
50. Town Councils and Regional Authorities
51. Fiji Airways
52. Fiji Link
53. Legal Aid
54. President’s Office
55. Fiji Roads Authority
56. FNU
57. PSC
58. Technical College of Fiji
59. Dept. of Public Prosecution
60. Biosecurity of Fiji

Madam Speaker, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, in its report on the petition not to re-zone Shirley Park (parliamentary paper 25 of 2015), discovered during its hearing that many people who appeared before the Committee were not aware of public announcements and advertisements on the issue. The Committee recommended that the responsible authorities must advertise notification of rezoning, objection periods, public consultations etc. through all available media outlets.

In the case of Lautoka’s Shirley Park, this was only advertised in the Fiji Sun. Even Parliament advertised the Standing Committee hearings in the Fiji Sun.

Madam Speaker, this blatant disregard and violation of constitutional rights, employment and natural justice must cease.

If Government genuinely believes in equal citizenry, it should immediately discard its policy of exclusivity as far its newspaper advertising.

Madam Speaker, I commend this Motion to the House.

Timeline of Fiji’s Current Regime

Election in Fiji on September 17th is a milestone. Since 2006 the country has been led by an undemocratic, unelected regime that calls itself the government of Fiji. In reality, it is a 2-member government. These people have not been selected by the people of this country. They have enforced themselves as the leaders of this country. It is time to move the country forward. It is time to select a democratically elected parliament with people of sound minds who have the potential to serve this country-not a continuation of the dictatorship we have endured for the last 7 years. The deeds of these 2 dictators are many. In case you have forgotten, the following is to remind you of the tortures the country has endured so far:

 

2006 Nov 1, Fiji’s prime minister (Laisenia Qarase) insisted that his government would not step down despite pressure from the country’s military commander, whose relentless criticism of the administration has raised fears of a possible coup.
(AP, 11/1/06)

2006 Nov 2, Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon warned Fiji’s military commander (Bainimara) against a coup after the commander said that the Pacific island nation could be sliding towards “bloodshed.”
(AFP, 11/2/06)

2006 Nov 5, Fiji’s military, locked in a standoff with the government, accused Australia on of breaching its sovereignty by sending an unspecified number of police it described as mercenaries into the country.
(AP, 11/5/06)

2006 Nov 30, Talks to avert a coup in Fiji were deemed “a failure” by the country’s military commander, who issued a fresh threat that he will quickly move to replace the government if it doesn’t meet his demands. Commodore Frank Bainimarama said that the government had not gone far enough and he set a next day deadline for its capitulation. Bainimarama wants the government to kill legislation that would grant pardons to conspirators in a 2000 coup, and quash two other bills that he says unfairly favor majority indigenous Fijians over the ethnic Indian minority.
(AP, 11/30/06)

2006 Dec 3, Commodore Frank Bainimarama told Fiji One television that he wants PM Laisenia Qarase to resign so the military can name a new government for the South Pacific island nation.
(AP, 12/3/06)

2006 Dec 4, In Fiji soldiers moved against at least two police compounds, seizing weapons in the apparent first step toward taking over the South Pacific island nation.
(AP, 12/4/06)

2006 Dec 5, The military seized control of Fiji after weeks of threats, locking down the capital with armed troops and isolating at home the elected leader whose last-minute pleas for help from foreign forces were rejected. Commodore Frank Bainimarama named Dr. Jona Senilagakali, a military medic with no political experience, as caretaker prime minister and said a full interim government would be appointed next week to see the country through to elections that would restore democracy sometime in the future. PM Laisenia Qarase, who had caved in to all demands, was deposed anyway. Pres. Ratu Josefa Iloilo, refused to rubber-stamp Bainimarama’s “doctrine of necessity.”
(AP, 12/5/06)(Econ, 12/9/06, p.49)

2006 Dec 6, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the ruler who led a coup against Fiji’s elected government, forcibly dissolved the South Pacific island’s parliament, installed a new prime minister and warned that he could use force against dissenters.
(AP, 12/6/06)

2006 Dec 7, Fiji’s newly-imposed premier, Jona Senilagakali (77), admitted the army ouster of the elected government was illegal and that elections could be two years away, but said the nation did not need Western-style democracy.
(AFP, 12/7/06)

2006 Dec 8, The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group announced Fiji is to be immediately suspended from the Commonwealth following a military coup there earlier this week. The Commonwealth of Nations is a successor to the British Empire and brings together some 53 nations, around a third of the world’s countries and a quarter of the world’s population.
(AP, 12/8/06)

2006 Dec 10, The military regime announced a crackdown on critics of Fiji’s coup, just hours after a house that had become a rallying point for those wanting a return to democracy was ransacked by unknown assailants.
(AP, 12/10/06)

2006 Dec 11, Fiji’s military regime banished ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase from the capital and warned that open opposition to the takeover would be met with force.
(AP, 12/11/06)

2007 Jun 14, Fiji’s military ruler said he was expelling New Zealand’s top diplomat, sending already strained relations between the South Pacific nation and one of its biggest neighbors spiraling even lower. Commodore Bainimarama said he had told New Zealand High Commissioner Michael Green to leave because the diplomat would not “stop interfering in Fiji’s domestic affairs.”
(AP, 6/14/07)

2007 Sep 6, Fiji’s military-led government imposed a month long state of emergency, accusing the prime minister who was ousted in a coup last year of seeking to “destabilize” the South Pacific nation.
(AP, 9/7/07)(Econ, 9/29/07, p.46)

2007 Oct 17, Fiji’s coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama pledged to hold elections in early 2009 as Pacific countries welcomed the move and vowed to continue pressing for progress at a regional summit.
(AP, 10/17/07)

2008 Jun 18, A European Union delegation met Fiji’s coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama, seeking assurances that he will stick to a pledge to hold elections to restore democracy by March 2009.
(AP, 6/18/08)

2008 Aug 19, The 39th annual Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) opened in Niue. Members at the 2-day forum agreed to threaten Fiji with suspension unless elections are held as scheduled by March 2009.
(Econ, 8/23/08, p.34)(www.forumsec.org/event.cfm?cmd=list&sd=200808)

2009 Jan 27, Pacific Island leaders gathered in Port Moresby and threatened to expel Fiji from their forum if coup leader Frank Bainimarama fails to announce credible plans for elections.
(Econ, 1/31/09, p.48)(www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2008/s2475598.htm)

2009 Apr 9, A court in coup-plagued Fiji declared the military government illegal and said the president should immediately appoint an interim leader to oversee a return to democracy.
(AP, 4/9/09)

2009 Apr 10, Fiji’s Pres. Ratu Josefa Iloilo (88) suspended the constitution of his troubled South Pacific country and fired the judges who had declared its military government illegal.
(AP, 4/10/09)(Econ, 4/18/09, p.44)

2009 Apr 15, Fiji’s military government tightened controls on the media, devalued the currency by 20% and said it would not tolerate opposition to plans for a sweeping overhaul of the country’s politics.
(AP, 4/15/09)(Econ, 4/18/09, p.44)

2009 May 2, South Pacific nations announced that military-ruled Fiji has been suspended from the 16-nation bloc for its rejection of democracy, freedom and human rights.
(SFC, 5/2/09, p.A2)

2009 Jul 28, Fiji’s self-appointed PM Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who took power in a bloodless 2006 coup, said aged and ailing President Ratu Josefa Iloilo will retire on July 30.
(AP, 7/28/09)

2009 Aug, In Fiji Laisenia Qarase and Mahendra Chaudhry, rivals to military leader Commodore Bainimarama, joined forces against him.
(Econ, 11/14/09, p.53)

2009 Sep 1, The 53-nation Commonwealth says it has suspended Fiji automatically after it failed to respond to a demand to begin restoring democracy to the island nation.
(AP, 9/1/09)

2009 Nov 4, Fiji’s military leader Commodore Bainimarama booted out the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand. He said they were interfering with his efforts to replaced judges he sacked in April. He said relations would be restored only in 2014.
(Econ, 11/14/09, p.53)

2010 Mar 5, Eight Fijian men were sentenced to jail terms of three to seven years for their roles in a 2007 plot to assassinate the armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the island nation’s prime minister, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 2006.
(AP, 3/5/10)

2010 Oct, Roko Tevita Uluilakeb Mara, the commander of Fiji’s biggest regiment, was suspended and soon fled to Tonga. Mara was the youngest son of founding father Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. From Tonga he denounced the Fiji government and called for regime change.
(Econ, 5/21/11, p.43)

2011 Feb 7, Fiji’s former President Ratu Josefa Iloilo (91) died. The tribal chief served as president from 2000 to 2009 and backed the 2006 military takeover of the country.
(AP, 2/17/11)

2012 Jan 6, Fiji’s government stepped back from a promise of a more open society, imposing new controls on public order just a day before it was supposed to lift more than two years of emergency rule.
(AP, 1/6/12)

2012 Jan 7, Fiji’s military rulers officially lifted a state of martial law in place since 2009.
(SSFC, 1/8/12, p.A6)

2012 Mar 9, Kiribati President Anote Tong said that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. He said the fertile land, being sold by a church group for about $9.6 million, could provide an insurance policy for Kiribati’s entire population of 103,000, though he hopes it will never be necessary for everyone to leave.
(AP, 3/9/12)

2012 Mar 14, Fiji’s military commander Frank Bainimarama disbanded the Great Council of Chiefs, a leadership tradition on the Pacific island nation since 1875.
(AP, 3/14/12)

2012 Mar 28, Fiji’s military regime said it had seized control of national carrier Air Pacific from Australia’s Qantas because it did not want foreigners to own or control Fijian airlines.
(AFP, 3/28/12)

2012 Aug 3, Fiji’s former PM Laisenia Qarase (71) was sentenced to one year in prison on corruption charges. Qarase was ousted in a 2006 coup.
(SFC, 8/4/12, p.A2)

2012 Dec, A report by the Fiji Constitutional Committee (FCC), appointed last July, was completed but promptly suppressed by security forces.
(Econ, 3/30/13, p.41)

2013 Nov 7, China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang said China will provide a concessionary loan of up to $1 billion to Pacific island nations to support construction projects in a part of the world where Beijing and Taiwan compete for influence. He made the announcement at a forum with Pacific island nations in Guangzhou at a meeting attended by representatives from Micronesia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue and Fiji.
(Reuters, 11/8/13)

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NFP – Our People’s Future

The following re excerpts of a speech delivered by the Leader of the National Federation Party Professor Biman Prasad at the NFP Convention at Nadi on Saturday 29th March 2014. I do not underestimate what lies ahead of us. With much humility, a clear understanding about the scale of responsibility and excitement, I have accepted the National Federation Party’s Leadership. The weight of history, I am aware is heavy. Expectations are large. I have accepted a post previously held by some of the finest political leaders in our country, Mr Jai Ram Reddy, Mr. Harish Sharma, the formidable late Mr A D Patel and Late Mr. S.M Koya, people from whom I and so many others draw so much inspiration.

NFP will reduce VAT to 10%

The following are excerpts of the speech delivered by National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad at the NFP Convention on 29th March.
Confronting Fears
As a nation we have lived in fear over the last 7 years. Fear grips our national life. Fear of being heard by someone and reported to authorities, fear of being bullied by those in power, fear of losing jobs, fear of being victimized, fear of losing licenses, fear of being witch hunted by government agencies. Workers, farmers, taxi drivers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, academics, journalists, business people, many NGOs have shied away from raising difficult issues because of the fear of being victimized for being critical of the government.