Sunday, 26 June 2016

Ro Teimumu Kepa’s Leadership of SODELPA



With the election of Sitiveni Rabuka as the new party leader for SODELPA, we have the brief benefit of hindsight to carry out a formative assessment of the leadership role of Ro Teimumu Kepa the current Leader of the Opposition. 
 Ro Teimumu Kepa
I say ‘formative’ because Ro Teimumu will continue as Opposition Leader until elections are held in 2018. In the Fiji Times of June 25, 2016 she notes “that I am also leaving my options open for any future ideas in moving forward." The Fiji Sun of October 22nd 2015 reported that Rabuka’s name first emerged as a replacement for Ro Teimumu at that stage. The Sun article further noted that Rabuka “would feel more comfortable leading the party into 2018 without Ro Teimumu in the party.”
Ro Teimumu was not happy with the selection of Rabuka and she noted that it was clearly stated in their management meeting that his appointment would cause an exodus of thousands of party members. Fijivillage.com also reported on June 26th  2016 that she is of the view that Rabuka will now face the challenge of trying to bring back those who have left because of his appointment as Party Leader. This attempt at unifying the party she feels will be his main challenge before the 2018 General Elections. She also hopes that Rabuka will engage with the SODELPA Youth Wing.
In hindsight it is clear that when Ro Teimumu was elected leader pf SODELPA in March 2014 there were pockets of resistance and dissenters who felt that she was not the appropriate choice. Since the general election was looming and logistical preparations had to be undertaken quickly, these differences were papered over. Even when she was appointed Opposition leader on Oct 6th, 2014 there was a vocal group of SODELPA parliamentarians who did not fully support her.
Her tenure as party leader had been marked by bitter infighting from a faction that wanted a change in leadership. One subtle sign of this was the disparaging remark that the election of Rabuka as party leader was more transparent then her election in March 2014. Another sign was the comment by Rabuka in the Fiji Times of June 26 2016 that he “felt that the excursion was not done well in the 2014 election. I can say, my observation, that while the party constitution and platforms are good, we have not achieved the desired results and that will be my input, making suggestion on how to execute the orders given to us by the platform of the party."
Through 2015 there seemed to be on going conflicts between the SODEPA Party Office and the Opposition Office under Ro Teimumu’s supervision. The fight was between the old guard and the reformers. The conflict reached its climax in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The first inkling of trouble came in an October 10, 2015 report in the Fiji Sun that quoted SODELPA’s Mosese Bulitavo as asserting that. “The chiefly system is flawed and steeped in a culture of treachery, deception and corruption.” This appeared to be a veiled reference to the need to change the party leader.
 The Fiji Sun reported on October 22nd 2015 that the conflict centred around the supposedly “haphazard way in which Ro Teimumu’s tour of the North was organized resulting in an embarrassing situation in Savusavu.” 
In October 2015  details were also finalised to advertise the position of party leader to replace Ro Teimumu. The discourse around this issue came at the behest of five SODELPA MPs who filed a petition calling on the management board to conduct an inquiry to examine issues raised in the Gaunavinaka Report. The report had been critical of Ro Teimumu’s leadership and the way the Opposition Office was being run.
There was a discourse in SODELPA that advocated a lower profile for chiefs in politics to avoid controversy.  There was also concern that Rabuka might form a new political party. He had been active in Cakaudrove supporting rugby clubs and communities. He had said: “I am no longer interested in that (SODELPA) party, that door has already been closed and I have no intention to become the leader of the party.” The thinking in October 2015 (by former SVT supporters in the party) was that Rabuka would be an appropriate replacement for Ro Teimumu given that she had expressed that she may not be available for re-election in 2018.
 Political observers noted that it was almost an impossible task for Ro Teimumu to harmonise the ideological divide of the old conservative guards who felt that the iTaukei were more equal than other groups in Fiji and the reformers who wanted a multiracial model. It was felt that she tried to build consensus by avoiding conflicts. The thinking amongst some observers is that she should have confronted the dissenters and stood her ground. In other words, she needed to make unpleasant decisions for the good of the party. If that meant she had to be direct and confrontational then she should have done so. Her peaceful demeanour was seen as a flaw. Observers noted that it seemed embarrassing  that a party leader was chosen 2 years before the 2018 general election (while she is still Leader of the Opposition. Hopefully Rabuka will be gracious and not undercut her role in Parliament.
Some observers noted that Ro Teimumu should have been allowed to develop the party to the 2018 elections. She had amassed 49,485 votes to Rabuka’s 236 received a decade earlier in a previous general election. She had developed a good rapport with young voters and could have widened the ideological platform of the party. She was trying to provide space for Fijians to join her predominantly iTaukei party. This may take a back seat as Rabuka tries to consolidate support from those with similar ideologies.Only time will tell whether replacing her with a former Prime Minister was a wise decision!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sitiveni Rabuka Elected As Leader of SODELPA



New SODELPA party leader 


Sitiveni Rabuka has been chosen as the new party leader of SODELPA after scoring the highest number of points in an interview panel contest. Even before the selection process, there were widespread rumours that he would be chosen, given his popularity with key elements within the Management Board.
Sitiveni Rabuka has been elected party leader of SODELPA

The talk in academic circles is that Anare Jale, who has mellowed into a more conciliatory and pragmatic figure might have been a better choice to Viliame Gavoka, whose well-intentioned economic schemes tends to sound idealistic. 
Rabuka is a polarising figure who draws either passionate dislike or adulation. A media report on June 26 noted that SODELPA dissidents are talking about breaking away and forming a new party.
Anare Jale a pragmatist was seen by some as a better choice to work with Ro Teimumu towards 2018.

Rabuka’s demeanor

On an interpersonal level, Rabuka comes across as being down to earth and humble. He has the gift of the gab and the knack of communicating with grassroots people at their level. There is no doubting that in some rural parts of Cakaudrove, he has a following amongst those with nationalist leanings who remember his 1987 coup with fondness. 

Rabuka however has the habit of delivering messages targeted at specific demographic groups. An audience of iTaukei male baby-boomers will receive a message that may differ from a group of youths or women, for example. In this tech savvy world of instant social media posts, (where privacy/secrecy rarely exists) he would be better advised to be more diplomatic and subtle in pushing forth campaign messages that sound nationalistic to one group and multiracial to another group. By doing this in the past he has come across as being insincere.
He also has the knack of turning politically negative actions to his advantage using his Christian faith. In June 2000, while promoting his autobiography in Auckland, the NZ Herald reported that he admitted fathering three children to two different women (apart from his wife). The Herald noted that “General Rabuka hoped his affairs would serve as a warning to others. "People who want to be future leaders should steer clear of the path that I went," he sermonised. This confession might get a new airing between now and 2018 as Rabuka campaigns and tries to appeal to Pentecostal groups who might warm up to his spiritual remorse.
Backtracking
Rabuka has the remarkable talent of playing both sides of the political divide. This might be something he will need to watch out for if he is to retain credibility as he reinvents himself as a multiracial leader. He also has the habit of backtracking when his quotes become controversial and/or creates a national hue and cry.
 A few examples are given here. 
He is quoted in the June 25, 2016 issue of the Fiji Sun as being “ready to reach out to other parties including the National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party...He acknowledged that SODELPA “must work with other races and while it focuses on the interests of the indigenous people, it is mindful of the interests of other races, knowing that they co-exist.” Yet in September 2014 when 45 Fijian peacekeepers were taken hostage by an Al-Qaeda-linked group on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, Rabuka told Radio New Zealand in an interview that Fiji's Muslim community could face retaliation if the peacekeepers serving with the UN were harmed. On September 6th 2014, he backtracked as he  told Radio Australia that that he was misinterpreted and he was advocating “firm and compassionate leadership at this difficult time."
In 2004 he made robust calls for Mahendra Chaudhry to be reinstated as Prime Minister even though he had been defeated in the 2001 democratic elections. Yet on 17th March 2005, he said that that no Fijian of Indian descent should ever expect to lead Fiji. When there was hue and cry over this statement, he said on 28th March that there was a misunderstanding and what he meant was that this process should be voluntary and nor legislated. 

The Fiji Times of June 26, 2016 reported Rabuka as saying that SODELPA’s chance of winning the 2018 elections still stood. Yet in the next breath he said it was always difficult to dislodge a governing party.
The Fiji Sun of June 25, 2016 reported that in accepting the leadership of SODELPA, he said he had a plan to “train our next batch of leaders to take over from us.(They)  must include more young people. They have a huge role to play, to help take Fiji forward.” Yet a report in the Fiji Times of the same day had him sounding petulant when responding to the issue of disgruntled youth leaders who did not accept his leadership. They “had a choice of remaining out there in the wilderness or joining another party.”
It will be wise for Rabuka to work closely with Ro Teimumu and avoid making subtly disparaging comments about her. 
Rabuka needs to be conciliatory and magnanimous in dealing with disgruntled members of the youth and women’s wings and provinces like Burebasaga whose SODELPA representatives clearly do not like him. He would need to rethink his “shoot from the hips” statements that make him popular with the media. It might be to his advantage to work closely with Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa to retain the 49,485 supporters who voted for SODELPA through her. Rabuka is still an unknown quantity and a decade ago he managed to garner 238 votes in national elections. While he can go ahead and order a new suit and dream of being Prime Minister, it might be worth his time to be more affirming and reach beyond his close knit friends and remnants of the 1987 coup who still harbour nationalist leanings.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Proactive Approach to Dealing with Transparency and Accountabilty in Cyclone Winston


  1. Proactive Approach to Dealing with Transparency and Accountability
    At the outset of the Cyclone Winston relief and rehabilitation work, various agencies like the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC),  the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) the  Divisional Commissioner’s offices, the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA), and the Office of the Prime Minister made it clear that corruption in any form would not be tolerated. The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that “Fiji's accountants had an important role in fighting corruption on the part of their clients and upholding high ethical standards in the profession. The moment you prioritise what is best for the country and the Fijian people, you can rid our business community of the corruption related issues that are holding us back. It is about being patriotic and doing what is best for Fiji." http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=350794
    Upholding Good Practices: An important factor in the push for economic recovery after TC Winston is the need for businesses to practice fair trade practices. The Fiji Commerce Commission had warned that penalties including imprisonment could be imposed if businesses engaged in unfair practices after Cyclone Winston. Commission Chair Joann Young had stated that the public had filed complaints regarding some businesses of jacking up prices, hoarding goods, refusing to provide supplies and adulterating certain consumer products to make an unfair profit.
    It was also noted that the Commissioners Offices moved fast in investigating claims of rations abuse and corruption.
    The following are a series of reports that provide an overview of anti corruption initiatives post TC Winston.
    Team complete probe on discrepancies of food ration distribution claim.
    On March 11, Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea directed a team to investigate allegations of discrepancies of food ration distribution on Taveuni. The completed report was sent to the NDMO and the Office of the Prime Minister. The investigation found no evidence of corruption by the Government official. http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=345166
    The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption worked closely with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and Divisional Commissioners offices to ensure that transparency and accountability processes were  in place throughout the rehabilitation operation post Cyclone Winston. FICAC Officers acted as liaison officers in advisory roles and provided support at a time when Government manpower resource were stretched. Public officers aimed this at lessening the possibility of abuse. It was noted in previous audit reports that there had been allegations of abuse including mishandling of funds and resources for past disaster relief operations hence the need to engage at the outset with DISMAC. FICAC noted that kickbacks and advantages have sprung up as a common corrupt practice during disaster procurement.  This is because managers often have discretionary powers to influence purchasing and contracting decisions. FICAC’s presence was to ensure that the system was transparent and accountable so that assistance reached the people who urgently needed them. They also noted that in the reconstruction of infrastructure, there was often the abuse of inflating contracts and the use of substandard material. This needed to be monitored for compliance to set standards. FICAC also said that false delivery dockets might be made which show high number of materials being purchased while in fact lower number of items may be delivered to the required areas. Verification would be required to counter check materials and allocations to reduce the mismanagement of relief funds and to ensure that the people in affected areas received fair and adequate attention.
    5/3=2016 fijisun.com.fj/2016/03/05/ficac-on-lookout-for-corrupt-practices-on-the-back-of-cyclone-winston
    The Director of the National Disaster Management Office Mr Akapusi Tuifagalele said that Government would not condone opportunists. He stated this point because of a media report that some Cyclone Winston victims had been reportedly selling or bartering surplus rations provided by the NDMO Office and other donors. He said that they were aware of of the issue, they had not received formal complaints from their ground staff or the Divisional Commissioners. It was noted that Commissioner Western Manasa Tagicakibau had alerted the Roko Tui and district advisory councillors to be aware of the issue especially when there were many agencies giving out food rations. Commissioner Central, Setareki Tale indicated he was not aware of the matter. His office had reduced the distribution of rations to two week’s supply instead of a month to stop abuse by families. He said they also had their own people on the ground monitoring the situation.
    NDMO noted that the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) and the Office of the Auditor-General were closely working with NDMO to prevent corruption. (7/3/2016)http://fijisun.com.fj/2016/03/07/govt-will-not-condone-opportunists/)

Rations Abuse Reports Along Kings Highway: The Fiji Sun reported on March 6th that some Cyclone Winston victims were alleged to be selling or bartering surplus rations provided by the National Disaster Management Office and other donors. Reporters visited some communities and noted that such acts were becoming widespread. In Varavu, Ba it was alleged that some cyclone victims were selling part of their rations. NDMO director Akapusi Tuifagalele said that people who were victims and are being provided with rations should use it for their sustainability and their survival. He said the Government does not support victims making gains out of what they are given. http://fijisun.com.fj/2016/03/06/rations-abuse-reports-along-kings-highway/


FRCA investigates abuse of tax concession for relief donations: The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority investigated one case of abuse of the tax concession on consignments that was shipped to Fiji for relief and rehabilitation purposes post TC Winston. They were investigating an allegation that involved a particular person or group abusing the tax concession. The penalty can be up to three times the value of the goods itself. FRCA noted that there are opportunists who would take advantage of the tax exemptions announced by the Government on relief consignments addressed to the Ministry of Finance. FRCA is vigilant in combating any abuse of concession.

https://www.newswire.com.fj/national/frca-investigates-abuse-of-tax-concession-for-relief-donations/

Do not abuse the system says PM  (Apr 10, 2016) The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has warned that anyone found to be cheating or abusing the Help for Homes initiative would face the full force of the law. Audit teams from the Ministry of Finance will carry out spot checks after the pre-paid electronic cards are dispensed. Legislation is being introduced in Parliament to impose special penalties including prison terms on any Fijian who tries to benefit personally by making false claims. Government is determined, at all costs, to protect the credibility and integrity of the recovery and rebuilding process. http://preview-www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/39212/do-not-abuse-the-system-says-pm



Saturday, 23 April 2016

Anti Corruption in Fiji (GOPAC-Pacific and UNODC)


This post is based on the Anti Corruption Workshop for Pacific Parliamentarians at Novotel in Nadi organised by GOPAC, UNODC and UNDP in 2015. It was an opportunity to meet with Parliamentary members of the Fiji Public Accounts Committee, Parliamentarians from other Pacific countries and anti corruption agencies.
Fiji adopted the the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008 and is the only Pacific country to have set up an anticorruption agency namely FICAC. Fiji has also been involved in reviewing 3 other countries under UNCAC. One of the questions asked by an Australian Parliamentarian was on the setting up in Fiji of a Standing Committee on Corruption. It was noted that the Fijian Constitution had provisions for anti corruption agencies. Investigations of corruption allegations required it to be dealt with apolitically and confidentially. Standing committees would require bipartisan parliamentary membership and political maturity was an important prerequisite so that the proceedings of the Committee did not deteriorate into political grandstanding.
Corruption is a concern in Fiji especially with the private sector. FICAC has jurisdiction to litigate against companies that have procurement arrangements with Government Ministries on corruption allegations. They deal with companies and employees only when there are allegations of fraud.
Corruption is such an issue in the private sector that the joke is that the richest people are Purchasing Officers who deal in procurements. They have the biggest houses and the flashiest cars!
 As the due processes will take place by the Judicial Services Commission to appoint the FICAC Commissioner in due course, it is noted that FICAC has impressed with its anti corruption investigations, advocacy, public awareness and litigation. It has come of age in its recent successful case where they used their own expertise without relying on QCs.
At the workshop it was reported that in Fiji, the government was looking at a network of laws that complement each other in terms of anti corruption. Under the Companies Bill 2015, business concerns are divided in different categories based on their turnovers. They have to disclose Annual returns and this can be cross checked with filings on individual returns, for example. This is one means of keeping tabs of irregularities.
At the workshop, the Civic Society organisations were represented by Transparency International Fiji and PNG. Both TI groups have a policy of  “constructive engagement” with their Governments. The point made was that they were anti corruption NOT anti government. This soft power approach has enabled constructive inputs into policy work in Fiji and PNG. In the case of PNG, the Government there requested TI PNG to be part of the review team under UNCAC reviewing other countries.
There was mention of Integrity Pacts in the Pacific Parliamentarians Workshop as a means of curbing corruption amongst private companies with Governmnet procurement contracts. Corruption in this sector is getting sophisticated given that Government uses a cash based accounting system as opposed to the accrual system used in the private sector. This leaves room for unscrupulous business people to game the system..
The essential elements of the integrity pact are: (a) It is pact (contract) among a Government office (the principal) inviting public tenders for any type of contracts related to goods and services and the bidders;  There is an undertaking by the Government ministry that its officials will not demand or accept any bribes and gifts. There is a statement by each bidder that it has not paid, and will not pay, any bribes in order to obtain or retain the contract; 
(b) There is an undertaking by each bidder to disclose all payments made in connection with the contract in question to anybody. Each bidder explicitly accepts the no-bribery commitment and the disclosure. Winning bidders must abide by the pact until the contract has been fully executed;
(c)Bidders are advised to have a company code of conduct (clearly rejecting the use of bribes and other unethical behaviour) and a compliance program for the implementation of a code of conduct throughout the company;
(d) Arbitration is used as a conflict resolution mechanism and the instance to impose sanctions. There is also an independent monitoring system which can be performed with active civil society participation or any other structure with independence, accountability and credibility.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Unsung Heroes of TC Winston: The Media and Volunteers

This week I draw attention to two groups that work quietly and humbly in the background to take Fiji back to normalcy after the ravages of TC Winston. While I will also touch on the economic aspects, it is worth noting that we usually take them for granted during natural disasters. They are the media and volunteers.

The Media
A letter writer noted in the FT of 26/2/16 that the media kept people up-to-date with news and the after effects of Cyclone Winston. While the stories and images were traumatic, we were nevertheless  touched by the many inspirational stories of courage. More importantly, the letter writer had been inspired by the news items and images to take personal action. Rather than just sympathising with the victims he noted that we should “give  food, clothes, our time and prayers of encouragement.”
The role of the print, audio and visual media in Fiji. including PINA, has been very influential in helping inform the people of the scale of TC Winston’s trail of destruction. Stories of suffering and also courage in the face of adversity has helped the nation and the global community to not only be informed but to take action in providing help to the victims. I  saw a local TV reporter explain very succinctly the ravages of TC Winston on the BBC. (To be honest, I was nervous at first thinking that he might not match up to the standards of the BBC but I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality reporting he provided.)
I notice while reading yahoo online news (which compiles reports from various US and global news services that some articles carried bylines from Fiji reporters.
I am always impressed with the reporters I have met who are usually polite and very patient.  Having been a reporter myself in my younger days, I can understand the need for patience especially the long winded way interviewees take to explain simple points. I am told I am too westernised.
In addition to providing news coverage, most media outlets were helping out in the
TC Winston National Fund Appeal in collaboration with the Fiji Red Cross, the National Disaster Management Office / DISMAC or other agencies and corporations. This media support has been beneficial in accelerating the process of collecting funds not only locally but internationally too. The amount of money raised from these media initiated appeals is very substantive. In addition, the monetary value of free print media advertising space, and TV and radio slots  used to publicise these appeals would add up to tens of thousands of dollars. While I was driving a week ago, I had a group ringing up a radio station to air an announcement on ration distributions. This was done immediately by the radio announcer. In normal times, a fee would have been charged for such announcements.
I understand that media staff have also been involved in cyclone relief work too. A report in the FT of 27/2/16 noted that staff of The Fiji Times had made their way out to families in areas that were worst-hit by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston like Tailevu Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki to distribute food rations, clothes and other giveaways. One radio and TV program has kept us in high spirits with the lighthearted comments and joke. There were complaints in social media that they shouldn’t be joking so much especially in these hard times. However the media has also played a role in helping us have a positive upbeat attitude inspite of all that we have suffered. The print. audio and visual media in Fiji are the first unsung heroes of TC Winston.

Volunteers
I now turn to the second unsung heroes, the volunteers who have played a pivotal role in the distribution of rations. We often expect volunteers to appear out of nowhere during natural disasters and often grumble when they don’t show up quickly in affected areas. The bulk of Fiji’s volunteers are youths and it is to Fiji’s credit that when disasters happen our young people are always willing to help out with warm smiles and hard work. I  worked mainly with the “Youths For Integrity” volunteers who worked with the Fiji Red Cross, Vodafone/ATH, FENC, ASPIRE and FCOSS (which coordinates the work of NGO volunteer work.)
The bulk of them are between the ages of 18 and 25 and are University students. Many said that while they were personally traumatised by the scale of the destruction and suffering they did not have time to feel dejected as most of those they distributed relief supplies too expected encouragement and even prayers from them. Most volunteers have to pay for their own transport costs and in many cases the meals they have during work time are usually very basic snacks.
Special mention should be made of the UNV (United Nations Volunteers) Fiji who ran a program on Feb 12 on “Youth Change the World Volunteering for SDGs” that brought together volunteer groups in Suva and empowered young people to come out immediately after TC Winston passed Fiji.
The Fiji Council of Social Services  coordinated NGOs in relief and volunteer work in coordination with NDMO / DISMAC with great efficiency.
If you are free this afternoon at 5.00pm, the Fiji National Youth Parliament Alumni and ASPIRE are holding a TC Winston Memorial Night to remember those who have lost their lives and those heavily affected including the unsung heroes who rose to the occasion.
Finally we appeal to readers that if they have clothes, food and other donations we would be most grateful to receive this today at the Transparency International Fiji Office on Pratt Street Street, phone 3304702 . Pick up can also be arranged.

Economic Recovery after TC Winston

There is no denying that we were hit by the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. To the credit of the nation, we were resilient and did not allow the cyclone's monster size ravages to overwhelm us. In Suva for example, most people were not only cleaning up their homes and compounds but also clearing blocked drains on streets and also removing debris the day after YC Winston struck. Referring to the importance of resilient communities, the Japanese ambassador Takuji Hanatani noted that  the key to disaster risk reduction is investing before disaster strikes. Japan had provided an additional $F1.345million through its grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects that will contribute to the recovery of Fiji and to building more resilient communities. News reports from Koro, Ba and many cyclone ravaged areas indicate that people have started rebuilding and planting crops and not waiting for material aid to arrive.
The holistic approach of the NDMO working with the public, NGOs and international partners  has meant that while relief and rehabilitation work continue, economic recovery plans are also being actively pursued.

Economy
While the current growth forecast is being revised down to 2.5%, the Reserve Bank of Fiji continues to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate at 0.5% to help rebuild the economy. It is expected that the inflation rate will be below 3%. Our foreign reserves currently sits at $2.019 billion which is enough to to cover 5.7 months of imports. While this is healthy, it may go down slightly due to demands for imports in the next quarter, to help in rehabilitation work. Agriculture exports will also be lower in the coming months given the $208 million loss in crops and livestock. It is good news that the Ministry of Agriculture has started giving out seedlings to farmers in the West and North.
The positive side is that tourism will see a boost in the coming months and there will be higher revenue from remittances. The RBF has also taken decisive action in reintroducing the Natural Disaster Rehabilitation Facility (NDRF) to provides funding for businesses faced with either production loss that needs stocks to be replaced or damaged inventory, or asset loss which may include repairs for damage to business properties.

Energy Supply
One area that was heavily affected by TC Winston was electricity, a necessity when running businesses!  Hospitals, schools, hotels, dairy facilities, businesses and tens of thousands of households were affected by the constant power outages. NZ’s aid of FJ$1.42 million to help restore electricity infrastructure, including re-erecting fallen power poles, restringing power lines and reinstalling fallen transformers and other overhead electricity distribution equipment go a very long way in supporting economic recovery. The Minister of Finance, Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has also met with the Indian Minister for Energy, Shri Piyush Goyal. They discussed the impact of TC Winston on the energy sector and the need to protect the sector from widespread damage in the future. A robust approach through the use of solar, wind and hydro energy to enable cost effective, 24-hour supply of electricity to all homes in Fiji was also discussed.

Tourism
Fiji was very fortunate that the main tourism areas like Denarau, the Coral Coast and Mamanuca were not affected by TC Winston. A lot of goodwill has also been shown by developed nations like Australia, NZ, and the US who revised their travel advisories when the situation was made clear to them. Fiji Airways provided major discounted airfares to Nadi for tourists coming from Australia and New Zealand. Discounts go over 50% for Australia and over 30% for NZ and while sales ended on March 15, the fares are applicable for travel between March 4 to June 16.
In a bid to improve and build the Fiji – China relationship, It is good news that the China Chamber of Commerce of Fiji is being set up soon to enhance trade between the two countries..
Yang Xunlei of the Chinese Embassy in Fiji noted that China is a huge market and that many Fijian products have strong attraction in higher-end niche markets such as organic agriculture products, seafood, skin, and beauty products.

Upholding Good Practices
An important factor in the push for economic recovery is the need for businesses to practice fair trade practices. The Fiji Commerce Commission has warned that penalties including imprisonment can be imposed if businesses engage in unfair practices after Cyclone Winston. Commission Chair Joann Young had stated that the public reported some businesses of jacking up prices, hoarding goods and refusing to provide supplies and adulterating certain consumer products to make profit.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is working with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and Divisional Commissioner’s office to maintain transparency and accountability throughout its rehabilitation operation post Cyclone Winston.
This is a proactive approach taken to minimise the likelihood of abuse by public officers. While natural disasters do not create corruption and fraud, studies have shown it creates conditions in which those crimes can thrive. Corruption is also helped by the relaxed procedures to ensure speedy delivery of aid and services.