Friday, November 23, 2007

Fijian Affairs Downgraded

Fijian Affairs surprise

Saturday, November 24, 2007

IN a surprise move, the interim Government has downgraded the Ministry of Fijian Affairs to department level.

Interim Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau declined to comment on the development.

The Budget Estimates index said the ministry was now a Department of Indigenous Affairs, Provincial Development and Multi-Ethnic Affairs while Page 46 of the publication referred to the entity as a ministry.

It is understood the department will now come under the Office of the interim Prime Minister.

The Fijian Affairs Ministry was responsible for the preservation of the different cultures in Fiji, lease and land administration, education assistance and rural development.

The ministry was also responsible for the Native Land Trust Board and the Great Council of Chiefs two institutions under close scrutiny by the interim administration. Both have undergone extensive reviews.

It is understood that the restructure of the ministry is in line with the Cabinet reshuffle interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will announce in a week's time.

The confusion was also evident in the Budget Estimates book, with Pages 44 to 45 of the book empty, with the heading 'Refer to Page 24 and 25 for Public Enterprise Reform', as last minute changes were made late last night to some aspects of the restructure and reshuffle.

Once the change is implemented, Commodore Bainimarama will take on the responsibility of implementing a People's Charter which has an allocation of $4.6million. This will also include the Department of Information, which was also downgraded in the new Budget.

The Ministry of Industrial Relations, Employment, Youth and Sports has also been merged with Youth and Sports.

The Ministry of Agriculture has become the Ministry of Primary Industries and has merged with the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests.

The Ministry of Works has merged with Transport and Energy. The ministry was allocated $251million compared to $235million in the 2007 revised Budget.

The Ministry of Tourism has merged with Trade, Industry and Communication. The Ministry of Public Enterprise and the Public Service Commission will also come under the ambit of the interim Prime Minister's Office.

The Attorney General's office and the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Sugar remain the same.

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