Thursday, May 14, 2009

Macuate Chiefs Want Officials Present

Chiefs want more presence - Friday, May 15, 2009

DISTRICT representatives to the Macuata Provincial Council meeting yesterday called for the presence of government officials at their district meetings.

Turaga Sauvou Udu Ratu Emori Waqanivalu said officials would know the needs of the people if they were present. Ratu Emori said people in his district were suffering because of high transportation costs." The last village in our district is about 90 kilometres from Labasa and villagers pay as much as $300 to $400 in boat hire charges from there to Nayaroyaro," he said.
"Because they have to pay that much, they don't want to make a living off copra because almost all the income they get is flushed into paying transportation costs. "We want roads to be built so that all the villages in the district don't have to keep on paying boat hire charges. "Most cannot afford to pay so they just live off the sea and usually run into high debts during times of emergency when they have to rush a relative to hospital."

Acting Commissioner Northern Inia Seruiratu assured delegates the district office has been directed to organise a team that would attend every district meeting. "Only the heads of department must be available at provincial council meetings to answer to questions that come from the floor," he said.

Macuata chair vacant
By Theresa RalogaivauFriday, May 15, 2009

THE Macuata Provincial Council does not have a chairman after an amendment to the Provincial Council Regulation, which falls under the Fijian Affairs Act. Under the new rules, former chairman Isireli Leweniqila's has relinquished his position one year before his term was to have expired. The chairman is elected every three years, however the amendment requires that any person chosen to be a district representative to any provincial council must have lived in the district 12 months prior to the appointment. That disqualified Mr Leweniqila, the mata ni tikina (representative) of Udu district, because he lives in Suva. Soon after the opening of the two-day meeting on Wednesday the bose vanua or meeting of chiefs of Macuata decided to accept and implement the amendment made late last year.
According to the Macuata Provincial Council Office, further determinations about which of the 12 district representatives would lose their position would be made soon. "We will have to look into their place of residences and identify who will be removed from their position because of the amendment," a council official said. Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere said Mr Leweniqila was an unfortunate victim of change and as such the province had lost a good chairman. "It's sad that he had to leave because of a technicality but we are happy with his resolve in accepting the decision of the bose vanua to implement the change," he said. The council will decide on deputy chair Adi Senimili Dyer chairing the council in the next half-yearly meeting in October.

Province's $3.2m debt under scrutiny
By THERESA RALOGAIVAUFriday, May 15, 2009
MACUATA'S $3.2m debt with the Fiji Development Bank was scrutinised at the province's council meeting on Wednesday. Macuata district representative Vereti Veisamasama raised the matter. Mr Veisamasama said an initial amount of $3.2m was borrowed for the construction of Macuata House yet the total amount of repayments has exceeded $7m over the past 10 years.
However Mr Veisamasama said the current debt level remained at about $3m despite the $7m repayments. "The interest rates are just too high and we should be informed about why it's too high," he said. Fiji Development Bank manager Mosese Uluicicia said the current loan repayments and debt levels reflect a true picture of what should happen.
"We receive about $500,000 year in loan repayments and from that about $200,000 is interest, $11,000 insurance and other money for fees so the debt is decreasing by only about $200,000 every year," he said. Mr Uluicicia said that the bank chopped interest rates from 13 per cent to 7 per cent on the loan late last year on the request of the provincial council office.
"The council saved about $100,000 for interest alone as a result of that while the bank lost," he said. Roko Tui Macuata Sitiveni Lalibuli said the council paid about $36,000 a month in loan repayments; of which $32,000 was for interest. "However that was when interest rate was at 13 per cent yet now that they have reduced it, it has also dropped to about $18,000," he said.
"As at April 6 the debt level is $2,922,963.51," he said.

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