MEDIA RELEASE: GOVERNMENT EXPANDS COVERAGE OF IMPORTANT TELEVISED EVENTS WITH NEW DECREE
The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the Television (Cross-Carriage of Designated Events) Decree 2014 puts an end to the old system that allowed a single broadcaster to purchase exclusive rights for the coverage of important events. “Many Fijians – especially amongst the poor and marginalised – do not have access to subscription television or even to all three free-to-air television stations. They might only receive one or two stations depending on where they live or what kind of antenna they have,” the Attorney-General explained.
The Attorney-General said that the Bainimarama Government does not want those who cannot afford a subscription television service like SKY or who do not have access to all of the free-to-air channels to miss out on important programming. “This new law ends discrimination between viewers and ensures that more Fijians will be able to watch all these important events,” he said.
“Under the new law, everybody who has access to at least one free-to-air station – FBC, Fiji TV or Mai TV – will now be able to view coverage of the designated events,” he said. The Attorney-General said the law will apply to all different kinds of programming, but that the biggest impact will be on boosting the coverage of major sporting events. “The Bainimarama Government understands how much ordinary Fijians care about sports and we are pleased that this new law will give coverage of top sporting events to many people who have never had it before,” he said. He explained that under the Decree free-to-air television broadcasters must share the cost of the rights to the designated events. The amount each has to pay is in direct proportion to its share of the market.
“We will be buying the rights to these events as a nation, rather than as individual companies. This means that all Fijians now have a right to see all these events,” he said. “Countries such as Australia, India, and Singapore have similar legislation, which has proven to be an effective way to maintain fair market conduct and effective competition in their broadcast industries, as well as to ensure the availability of a comprehensive range of quality television services,” he said. The Attorney-General said that the market share of each of Fiji’s free-to-air television stations has been based on an independent viewership and listenership survey conducted by Clarus Research Group, an internationally-respected survey research firm based in Washington, D.C.
The survey will be made public and posted on Fijian Government’s website – www.fiji.gov.fj – and the Department of Communication’s website – www.communications.gov.fj.
The members of the Electoral Commission that will supervise the 2014 general election have been announced.
The Commission is made up of seven prominent citizens from various walks of life headed by its Chair, leading legal practitioner Chen Bunn Young, who’s a former President of the Fiji Law Society.
The other members are academic Professor Vijay Naidu of USP, the tourism industry leader and marketing expert, James Sowane, accountant and financial advisor Jenny Seeto, the filmmaker and media specialist, Larry Thomas, electoral expert and priest, Father David Arms, and the educationalist and civil society leader, Alisi Daurewa.
The Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said each member of the Commission brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the task of supervising the first genuine democratic election in Fiji’s history.
“All of these outstanding individuals are credible, apolitical and together, will bring integrity to the Commission’s work. They will also make their individual contributions, whether it’s high- level legal expertise in the case of Chen Bunn Young, marketing expertise in the case of James Sowane, financial expertise in the case of Jenny Seeto, existing electoral expertise in the case of Father Arms, communications expertise in the case of Larry Thomas and the broad educational a social expertise of Professor Naidu and Alisi Daurewa”.
“I want to thank them all for accepting their roles on the Commission, which is a vital component of the Bainimarama Government’s plan to hold a free and fair election to the very highest international standards”, he said.
Under the terms of the 2013 Constitution, the Electoral Commission is responsible for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections.
It is also responsible for voter education, the registration of candidates for election, the settlement of electoral disputes and monitoring and enforcing compliance with any written law governing elections and political parties.
Under the Constitution, the Chair of the Commission needs to either be a judge or a legal practitioner who is able to become a judge, a provision fulfilled by Chen Bunn Young, a senior Lautoka- based solicitor and barrister.
In a related development, the Elections Office has announced that it will soon be seeking applications for 34 key posts in the Office. Within those categories are a total of 230 positions. They include the Deputy Supervisor of Elections, the Director of Electoral Procedures, the Director of Corporate Services and the Director of Communications.
Another 160 staff will be recruited in a second phase later in the year and an additional 14,000 throughout Fiji for the day of the election itself.
The Reserve Bank Board agreed to keep the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 0.5 percent following its monthly Board meeting on 28 November.
Full article: Press Release No.38 – MONETARY POLICY STANCE REMAINS UNCHANGED (PDF)
Following its monthly meeting held on 30 May, 2013, the Reserve Bank of Fiji Board decided to maintain its current accommodative monetary policy stance, with the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) remaining unchanged at 0.5 percent.
Full article: MONETARY POLICY STANCE REMAINS UNCHANGED.PDF
The International Monetary Fund has downgraded the global growth forecast for 2013 to 3.3 percent, from 3.5 percent growth anticipated earlier in January.
The overwhelmingly positive response to the Draft Constitution and the process of public consultation has prompted the Government to extend the deadline for submissions until the end of the month. The existing extended deadline of April 26th has been moved to April 30th – covering an extra weekend and two more business days. It gives the Government’s legal team more time to hold public meetings in other parts of the country and to conduct more talkback radio sessions. The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, said the program of public consultation – which includes Nadi and Sigatoka on Monday, will be extended to Taveuni and Savusavu later this week and Kadavu, the Yasawas and other parts of the country at dates to be announced.
“The existing provisions of the Draft have been warmly accepted but, of course, people are asking for clarification on some aspects and we want to engage with them personally,” PM Bainimarama said. The Prime Minister said the public meetings that had already been held in Suva, Labasa, Lautoka and Ba had been a great success. “When people have the provisions explained to them, it’s clear that a great many are satisfied with the document. But as we’ve said all along, we are open to suggestions about how it can be improved.”
The Prime Minister said that while he would have preferred a longer consultation process, time was of the essence. “We need to get the Constitution finalized as soon as possible. So it’s a balancing act between this process and our absolute need to meet the election deadline of September next year. We have 17 months at the most to process the public’s submissions on the Constitution, implement the document, organize the mechanics of the election itself, conduct public education and awareness of the electoral system and begin the political phase,” he said.
The PM said the Government was delighted with the level of public interest being shown in the consultation process. Despite the claims of some politicians, the decision to take the Draft document direct to the country has been a great success. The meetings – conducted by the Attorney General and his team are being well attended and conducted in a spirit of cooperative nation-building.
“The quality of the questions and the submissions also demonstrate that ordinary citizens are not only engaged with the process but have given our constitutional future a lot of thought. I commend them for their interest, their ideas and their desire to move forward and I urge everyone to take advantage of the extended deadline for submissions,” he said.
Submissions on the Draft Constitution will now be accepted up until the close of business on Tuesday, April 30th.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji transferred $35.4 million to the Fijian Government today.
As part of the commitment to strengthen Fiji’s agricultural sector including need to build capacity, government will now provide assistance to the Navuso Agricultural school in Nausori. The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last week visited the school to identify ways that government can improve conditions including the resources used by students. During his visit, the head of government spoke to management and students on government’s intentions on strengthening the agriculture sector.
“The important places that we are looking at developing are the student’s dormitories, the piggery and the school’s milking shed,” PM Bainimarama said.
“We have to relocate the piggery and the milking shed if we want to improve the production standard of these school projects,” the Prime Minister said.
He also stressed that sanitation was also an important factor that both management and students need to focus on.
“Since everything begins with the students; their dormitories and surroundings need to be clean.”
“We will provide water blasters and brush cutters to be used by the students to help keep their school clean and improve sanitation,” PM Bainimarama said.
Navuso Agricultural School manager Reverend Malakai Tuikadavu was extremely pleased with the visit by the Prime Minister and government officials today.
“I regard this visit by the Prime Minister as a blessing for existing students in the agriculture programme. I am also very thankful that the PM is committed towards carrying out developments here in Navuso,” Rev Tuikadavu said.
There are currently 65 students enrolled with the agricultural programme.