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19 September, 2020, 1:56 am Central - 22°C Rain
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Fiji's approach to deal with effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fiji's approach to deal with effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

By fijivillage
Thursday 30/04/2020

As Fiji battles against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals and organisations have come forward to lend a helping hand.  


FNPF pays 3,284 members for the second round of phase two of COVID-19 withdrawals

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 02/09/2020
The next payment will be disbursed on 15th September and members who haven’t applied must submit their application by Friday 11th September.

The Fiji National Provident Fund says a total of 3,284 members will be paid $3.61 million over five fortnights, for the second round of phase two of the COVID-19 withdrawals.

In a statement, FNPF says these members were paid $722,480 in the first payment cycle yesterday with $531,973.60 subsidized by Government.

FNPF says members who received their funds through their bank accounts, totalled 3,276 while 8 members opted for M-PAiSA.

It says the next payment will be disbursed on 15th September and members who haven’t applied must submit their application by Friday 11th September to be part of the second payment cycle.

FNPF further says members who missed out on the first payment cycle for Phase 2 Round 2, will receive two payments on 15th September.

It adds that Phase 4 withdrawal opened on Monday 31st August 2020 and members must apply on the myFNPF App which can be downloaded from Google PlayStore and Apple App Store.

If you are downloading the app for the first time please ensure that your email address or mobile number is updated with FNPF.

FNPF also says a minimum General Account balance of $135 is required and members must be unemployed from 1st October 2017 to 30th September 2019, to qualify for Phase 4.

FNPF says the government top-up is not applicable for this phase.




Phase 4 FNPF Withdrawal Scheme has got nothing to do with those that have become unemployed because of COVID-19 - AG

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 01/09/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum - [Photo: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Phase 4 of the FNPF Withdrawal Scheme has got nothing to do with people who have become unemployed because of COVID-19.

He says people who will qualify for Phase 4 were already unemployed two years ago.

Sayed-Khaiyum says unemployment benefits for COVID-19 is for those people who have become unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He clarified this after NFP parliamentarian, Lenora Qereqeretabua had asked why government will not top up for Phase 4 of the COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme.

The Minister for Economy adds that Phase 2 and 3 COVID-19 withdrawal schemes will continue for as long as they need to continue these schemes and funding will be provided for this.

According to FNPF, phase 4 targets members who have been unemployed for more than six months, from October 2017 to September 2019.

32,000 members will qualify for phase four which means these members have equal to or more than $135 in their general accounts. These members can apply for between $100 to $1,100, depending on their general account balance.

Meanwhile, Sayed-Khaiyum says they are going ahead with several projects like the Prime Minister’s Office and police stations which will create employment.

He says by having these projects, there will be employment for about 1,600 people and these jobs currently do not exist.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they will not be only providing these people with employment but will also have the infrastructure.




Govt will assist those people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and whose FNPF funds are now depleted - AG

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 07/08/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government will step in to pay $220 a fortnight as part of the unemployment benefit to any FNPF member who has lost their job due to COVID-19 and if the funds in their general account is depleted.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this assistance is continuing.

Those that have sufficient funds in their FNPF accounts will continue to be paid their funds.

FNPF says around 82,000 members were assisted under the scheme in the first phase while 25,046 members where assisted in the second phase.




FNPF’s COVID-19 Phase 2 withdrawals extended - Koroi

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 17/08/2020
FNPF Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi

The Fiji National Provident Fund’s COVID-19 Phase Two withdrawal which was to end with the fifth payment today will now continue.

FNPF says this means that members who continue to be unemployed or on leave without pay and have accessed their funds for Phase 2, are eligible to reapply and will continue to receive the $220 fortnightly payments from 1st September 2020.

Fund members who have also recently been unemployed or are on leave without pay can also apply.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi says the Fund is grateful that the Government will continue to top up those that have no balances in the General Account.

Koroi says they understand that members are still facing difficulties with the loss of employment and in supporting themselves as well as their dependents.

He says they will announce details on the withdrawal process shortly and also put in place validations to ensure that these members are genuinely still unemployed.

Koroi says the Fund continues to plead with members to be honest with their employment or individual status when applying for COVID-19 withdrawals.




FRIEND, TISI Sangam and CSO Alliance open help centre to assist those affected by COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Friday 31/07/2020
Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development of FRIEND, TISI Sangam and the Fiji Civil Society Organizations Alliance for COVID-19 Humanitarian Response have come together to open a help centre in Navakai, Nadi

Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND, TISI Sangam and the Civil Society Organizations Alliance for COVID-19 Humanitarian Response have come together to open a help centre in Navakai, Nadi where those that have been affected by COVID-19 can seek assistance.

The assistance includes providing food banks, seedlings and counseling for affected families.

FRIEND founder and Chief Executive Officer Sashi Kiran says Nadi is now the epicenter for those that have lost their jobs or are on reduced hours due to COVID-19 and Sigatoka is not far behind.

Kiran says there are some villages in Nadi and Sigatoka which were entirely dependent on the tourism industry and are now finding it very difficult to put food on the table.

Kiran says they have received more than 1000 applications from people who need assistance last week alone.

TISI Sangam Secretary-General Damend Goundar says the partnership will enable them to go beyond just feeding people because there is no guarantee on when the crisis will end.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali says they will use this opportunity to provide counseling to not only women but men as well because there are a lot of social problems that are associated with unemployment.




Phase 3 of COVID-19 FNPF Withdrawal Scheme to begin on the 25th of August

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/07/2020
Fiji National Provident Fund CEO Jaoji Koroi

Payments under phase three of the COVID-19 FNPF Withdrawal Scheme will be given out from the 25th of August to the 20th of October 2020.

Fiji National Provident Fund CEO Jaoji Koroi says the two categories of relief in this phase are reduced hours and reduced wage rate and both categories are eligible for government assistance if the members General Account Balance is insufficient.

Koroi says around 82,000 members were assisted under the scheme in the first phase while 25,046 members where assisted in the second phase.

He also says that members whose wage rate has been reduced by up to 50%will receive a lump sum payment of $550 while a lump sum payment of $1100 will be given to those whose salary has been reduced by more than 50%.

Koroi adds that in phase three, members who have been unemployed from October 2019 to date can apply for a lump sum payment of $1100.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had earlier confirmed that those who are fully unemployed will continue to get $220 per fortnight and an assessment will be done after five weeks to ascertain what has happened to the person who is receiving the benefit.

He had said that people may get re-employed after the five week period and this is the kind of checks and balances they have to put in place.

Koroi has also clarified that members who are both on reduced hours and reduced rates cannot apply for both categories.




26 yachts approved to enter the country

By Tifa Vataiki
Monday 27/07/2020
Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya

Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya says 26 Yachts have been approved to enter the country to date.

While making his contribution to the 2020/2021 National Budget Debate, Koya says the arrival of the yachts will see an injection of $1million into the economy.

He says two weeks ago Fiji welcomed the arrival of the first yachts from New Zealand.

Koya says the yachts alone brought $40,000 into the local community over two days and brings back a little bustle of life to Denarau.




UN acknowledges the work of the Fijian Government in dealing with COVID-19

By Faria Begum Ali
Monday 27/07/2020
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Fiji Sanaka Samarasinha

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Fiji Sanaka Samarasinha has acknowledged the work of the Fijian government in dealing with COVID-19.

He says they are grateful for the leadership of the Fijian Government to prevent COVID-19 from having had the health impact it has had in most parts of the world because of early action.

He made this comment while speaking about the recommendations made in a report compiled by the UN and some of its key stakeholders on the Socioeconomic Impact Assessment and Recovery Recommendations which highlights key areas that the Fijian government needs to address.

Samarasinha says as development partners they will support certain policies put in place in order to recover from this pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Acting Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yogesh Karan says most of the recommendations made in the report has been reflected in the 2020/2021 National Budget.

He says we have a very large social sector and more than 30% of the budget is for that sector.

Karan says a large number of people have become unemployed because of COVID-19.

Karan says other recommendations made in the report include finding means of looking after unemployed people, looking at alternative methods whereby those who have lost jobs, to skill them and make improvements to the health sector.

He says Fiji will spend more than 3.5% of its budget on the Health Ministry while the recommendation made in the report is to have 5% of the budget allocated towards it.

Karan adds that the opening of the borders will put further pressure on the Health Ministry.




More than 6,000 people assisted by COVID-19 initiatives by BSP

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 26/07/2020
BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali

BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali says they have assisted more than 6,000 of their customers that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While speaking at a post-budget discussion organised by the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry at GPH, Ali says this is through the different initiatives they have placed in terms of assisting their customers who have been let go or are working on reduced hours.

He adds they will continue to stand by their customers in these trying times and are also looking at reducing their rates so that they can continue to provide assistance to their customers.




Local artists to gain from the historic partnership signing between CFL and Digicel

By Iva Danford
Friday 24/07/2020
Local musicians were full of smiles today after an agreement was signed between Communications Fiji Limited (the parent company of Legend FM, FM96, Viti FM, Navtarang and Radio Sargam) and Digicel

Local musicians were full of smiles today after an agreement was signed between Communications Fiji Limited (the parent company of Legend FM, FM96, Viti FM, Navtarang and Radio Sargam) and Digicel, where people can text and tip the artists performing on Legend FM’s Local Vocal and Viti FM’s Vosa Na Wa.

People can text the initials of the musicians to 176 and that artist gets 90 cents out of every text sent if people like any video they watch on Viti FM and Legend FM’s platforms.

The text message costs 99 cents.

People can watch the videos of these musicians performing on the Legend FM’s Local Vocal and Viti FM’s Vosa Na Wa on the stations’ websites, facebook pages and on fijivillage.

Speaking at the signing and launch of the new version of Legend FM’s Local Vocal and Viti FM’s Vosa Na Wa, CFL Board Chairman William Parkinson says in this age, this partnership is really exciting.

Parkinson says the fact that local music is earning it’s way to the play list of the five radio stations namely FM96, LegendFM, VitiFM, Navtarang and Radio Sargam is amazing.

Digicel Fiji’s Head of Consumer Charlotte Taylor says the partnership will help local musicians during this tough time.

Taylor says they plan to continue this type of partnership in the future.

Top musician, Georgina Ledua says this partnership will definitely benefit her as a sole bread winner.

Ledua says some of her family members have been helping her because she can hardly perform anywhere because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Ledua also encouraged artists to come up with more new original songs.

Chairman of the Fiji Performing Rights Association, Saimone Vuatalevu says they are grateful to CFL and Digicel for the first ever initiative like this in Fiji and they are proud to be part of it.




Fiji expecting over 100 yachts and super yachts in the next few weeks

By Iva Danford
Thursday 23/07/2020

Fiji is expecting over 100 yachts and superyachts in the next few weeks.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this at the Post 2020-2021 Budget Forum Question and Answer Session organized by the Fiji-Australia Business Council and the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council.

He says this is how they want to spur up the tourism sector.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Americas Cup will be held in New Zealand and a lot of them will want to come and park their yachts in Denarau. He says sailing time will be used as part of the quarantine period.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji is the only independent South Pacific country that has a WHO certified testing facility, where you get tested within 6 hours and get your results.

He says because of our health status we are in a better position to talk to Australia and New Zealand about the Bula Bubble.

He says they have again written to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and liaising with the Australian High Commissioner John Feakes.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are more opportunities in relaxing health measures to allow for travel between New Zealand as they are coming close to being COVID-19 contained like Fiji.




Save the Children seeking funding to provide meals for students in schools

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 23/07/2020

Save the Children Fiji is trying to get funding from their local donors to assist children with meals as they have been receiving applications from parents who are unable to provide meals for their children in schools.

Organisation CEO Shairana Ali says they have received more than 300 applications for assistance from the Nausori – Lami corridor which they will be assessing in next 2 weeks.

She says they have staff in 60 communities who are talking to the students and the parents who were earlier assisted but they have not been able to reach all of them yet.

The CEO says they received over 2,000 applications at the beginning of the school year and assisted these students.

She says they are still receiving applications.

Ali says right now they are providing bag kits and stationary but they are having a discussion with their local donor partners to see if the organisation is able to get some support for students whose parents are not able to provide meals for their children when they are in school.

Meanwhile, Ali has also confirmed that they have assisted more than 450 students in Kadavu and more than 20 in Ba who have been affected by TC Harold.

Ali adds they have also provided hygiene kits to some schools and trained students on safe practices and how they can protect themselves from COVID-19.




TISI Sangam expects to provide 3 meals per week till the end of the school term

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 23/07/2020

TISI Sangam says they expect to continue to provide 3 meals per week to all students at their 27 schools across Fiji till the end of this school term.

TISI Sangam Secretary-General Damend Goundar says they provide around 9000 meals per day and this phase is expected to cost around $160,000.

Goundar says whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unimaginable crisis, it has also given them the opportunity to be of service to the people.

He says they are also sharing meals with non-Sangam schools.

Goundar further adds that we are in hard times and 2020 will be remembered as what COVID-19 did to the world and Fiji but we can change that and remember it as what we did and how we came together to make lives happier.

He says they have received donations from their members and people who are non-members as well.




BRED Bank reduces minimum requirement for business account from $3,000 to $200

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 21/07/2020
BRED Bank.

BRED Bank has today reduced their requirement of a minimum $3,000 deposit to open a business account to $200 to assist small and medium businesses.

This comes as Fijivillage had asked the bank to justify the $3,000 deposit at a time when people are being encouraged to open businesses and many may not have that amount of cash available.

Bank CEO Thierry Charras-Gillot (Charas Gillo) says they looked into the matter and at this difficult time it was the right thing to do and facilitate the opening of accounts of small businesses.

He had earlier said that the minimum amount of $3,000 was to ensure that the people who are opening the account really want to use their account as there had been cases where people had opened an account but did not use it.




Unemployment benefit of people to be reviewed after 5 weeks - Sayed-Khaiyum

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 21/07/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms the unemployment benefits announced in the 2020/2021 National Budget will be for five weeks after an application is made and an assessment will be done after five weeks to ascertain what has happened to the person who is receiving the benefit.

He says people may get re-employed after the five week period and this is the kind of checks and balances they have to put in place.

Under this scheme, those whose working days or hours have been reduced will receive $44 per fortnight for every day they are no longer working.

Those who are fully unemployed will continue to get $220 per fortnight.

Those whose working days or hours have been reduced will receive $44 per fortnight for every day they are no longer working.

So, if you are now only working three days a week, you will receive $88 every two weeks; if you’re down to working only one day a week, you will receive $176 every two weeks.

Sayed-Khaiyum says if people have money in their FNPF general account, then they can source the benefits from there and if they do not have sufficient funds, then government will top it up.

He adds that they are moving away from lump sum payment or withdrawals because a lot of people have complained that when lump sum payments are made, some people are tempted to buy things like TV.

He says if payments are on a fortnightly basis, it is essentially like getting a pay.

Government has made $100 million available to make sure every unemployed Fijian is able to access their full relief payments.




WAF will not disconnect Fijians affected by COVID-19 despite reduction in budget allocation for 2020/2021

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 21/07/2020

The Water Authority of Fiji says they will not disconnect Fijians who are genuinely impacted by COVID-19.

WAF has been allocated $195.4 million in the 2020/2021 National Budget compared to an allocation of $258.7 million in the 2019/2020 National Budget.

According to the 2020/2021 National Budget Estimates, water supply capacity in the Greater Suva Area is expected to increase by 26% and wastewater-treatment capacity by 164% through the Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Project is designed to improve vital urban infrastructure and services.

As part of the project, a new 40 megalitre treatment plant in Viria, Rewa and intake pumping station and 10 megalitre Waitolu reservoir and bulk water mains is expected to be completed in the next financial year.

Blended funding provided by the Asian Development Bank ($10.6 million), European Investment Bank ($6.9 million), the Green Climate Fund ($9.2 million), and local sources ($24.1 million) has made this immense project possible.

27,913 households have benefited from Government’s free water initiative, which will continue to expand in this financial year.

$4.8 million has been allocated to improve water distribution systems.

Government is providing $24.5 million to further improve water treatment quality; $1.5 million for the replacement of water meters; $2.6 million for non-revenue water; $7.3 million for the upgrade of wastewater treatment plants; and $4.5 million to upgrade the wastewater distribution system to ensure that Fijians within urban centres are connected to the wastewater reticulation system.

6.4 million has been allocated for Rural Water Supply Programme in order to provide access to clean water in rural communities.

$7.1 million is for electrical works at WAF’s water pump and wastewater stations and $0.9 million will be utilised to continue improvement of catchment and water source areas.

An allocation of $3.5 million is provided for rural water carting to communities in non-metered areas during periods of drought, water disruption and during the current recovery period from COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Authority Chairman Bhavesh Kumar says the 2020-2021 National Budget is a positive and encouraging step forward for Fiji as the nation braces for the global economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kumar says the government has presented a smart National Budget to soften the impact and create the conditions for a strong recovery.




Only $250 to open business current account with BSP Fiji

By Semi Turaga
Monday 20/07/2020
BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali.

People that want to open a business current account with Bank South Pacific are only required to make a minimum opening deposit of $250.

BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali says they made the minimum opening deposit $250 to make it easier for small to medium enterprises to open a business account.

He says if the amount is too much, it becomes a burden for small to medium enterprises to open a business account.

Ali says having access to a business account is fundamental for small to medium enterprises to manage their financial billings.




We are in talks to reduce the $5000 deposit to open small businesses- Saud Minam

By Shanil Singh
Monday 20/07/2020
ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam.

ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam says he understands that it will be difficult for customers to pay a deposit of $5000 if they want to open up accounts for small businesses and ANZ is now looking into it.

Minam says they understand that the world has changed and a lot of customers would want to open and have a banking relationship with ANZ.

He says they had initially thought that they should decrease it to a certain level so customers feel comfortable coming to them but due to COVID-19 they are giving first priority to the vulnerable ones.

When questioned on why ANZ is charging a deposit of $5000 when other banks such as BSP and HFC are charging $250 and $1000 respectively, Minam says different banks have different requirements.

Minam says for everything they do, they have to look at what the cost is and what is the return.




Fiji Airways begins work to register hotels and resorts for the Tourism Recovery Package

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 20/07/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyu

Fiji Airways says it is now working on registering interested hotels and resorts to participate in government’s Tourism Recovery Package.

Government has allocated $60 million for the Fiji Recovery Rebate Package in the 2020/2021 National Budget where through Fiji Airways, the government will give the first 150,000 visitors $400 each to go towards packages including flights, accommodation and Food and Beverages.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji Airways will work with different operators and they will have to give at least 45% discount before the duty reduction.

He says government will subsidize up to $400 for the first 150,000 tourists and the amount will be split between Fiji Airways and the hotel property.

Fiji Airways says access will be contingent on hotels and resorts meeting the Campaign Qualifying Rules.

The national airline says this initiative will allow controlled easing of border restrictions, making it possible for Australian and New Zealand holidaymakers to return to their favourite destination.

Fiji Airways says it is now leading an Industry Task Force to help develop the qualifying rules and implement the campaign.




Australia working with Fiji to revive Fiji’s tourism industry – Feakes

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 19/07/2020
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says Australia is working closely with the Fijian Government on mapping a way forward to revive Fiji’s tourism industry.

Feakes says tourism remains critically important and their focus in the immediate will be on establishing the arrangements that can allow the Australian tourists to visit Fiji.

Feakes further says in the past some 350,000 Australian tourists visited Fiji each year and they are looking to get those tourists back as quickly as they can but it will take some time.

In light of economic challenges brought on by COVID-19, Australia has shown increased interest in supporting economic activities in Fiji’s business and agricultural sectors through the Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership. Feakes says there have been preliminary discussions with business and manufacturing industries around diversification and potential partnerships.

He adds he thinks the manufacturing sector, in the wake of COVID-19, has seen people looking to diversify their supply chains and Fiji with one of the only manufacturing sectors within the Pacific is well placed there.

Feakes says he had a number of virtual discussions with the Fiji Australia Business Council - one which was chaired by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He says there is interest on part of the Australian business community that operates in Fiji adding the Australian business community that is resident in Australia and has invested in Fiji is looking for opportunities and he hopes that some of those come to fruition.




More people expected to use the social welfare assistance due to the economic impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic – AG

By Naveel Krishant, Semi Turaga
Friday 17/07/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms that they have made allocations with respect to social protection programs like the Poverty Benefit Scheme with the anticipation that more people will fall through the cracks and will need that assistance due to the economic impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has been allocated $159.0 million in the 2020-2021 National Budget.

2020-2021 Budget Resources

AddressEstimatesSupplement
Revenue PoliciesCustoms Tariff Act

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Department of Social Welfare administers Fiji’s basket of social welfare programmes, which include the Poverty Benefit Scheme, the Child Protection Allowance, the Food Voucher Program, the Social Pension Scheme and the Bus Fare Subsidy for the elderly and people living with disabilities.

He says the ongoing review on the social protection programmes systems and processes will ensure that this assistance is well-targeted and administered in a transparent and accountable manner.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the department is equally committed to ensuring that these programmes do not create a culture of dependency, focusing efforts and energy on graduating individuals and families from “welfare to workfare”.




Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association delighted with 2020/21 Budget

By Pratika Mala
Friday 17/07/2020
CEO of Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington

The CEO of Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington says they are delighted the Government has delivered by providing relief for both import and excise duties and tax surcharge.

Lockington says these will altogether reduce their overhead costs and allow them to create attractive packages which will in turn allow them to offer real value for money.

She adds when Fiji’s borders open, it will make Fiji far more competitive.

2020-2021 Budget Resources

AddressEstimatesSupplement
Revenue PoliciesCustoms Tariff Act

Lockington says it’s great that the tourism industry is being recognised that it uses local entertainers and now they can get some incentive.

A 150% tax deduction is being offered to hotels and restaurants that use local entertainers.

Lockington says this is like icing on the cake as they had not expected that.




HFC Bank reassures government that they would consider further extension of loan repayment period for struggling customers

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 17/07/2020
HFC Bank CEO Rakesh Ram

The HFC Bank says they have reassured the government that they will consider further extension of the loan repayment period in line with the predicament the customers are facing.

He says they are happy to extend the term if required for the customers who are struggling.

Responding to questions by Fijivillage on how the customers who were given three months repayment holiday in March will now be assisted as that time is up, Bank CEO Rakesh Ram says they are not talking about repossession of property at this stage.

Ram says they are purely trying to work with the customers, stakeholders within the industry and the government to see how best they can support their customers and continue to support their business.

He says customers have been given 6 months loan and interest deferment on a case by case basis for customers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Meanwhile, they have now started with the second round of assistance on their lending portfolio.

The bank says that any increase in the number of customer seeking assistance will directly correlate to the state of the economy.




Association of Banks reassures government that they will continue to assist affected customers

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 17/07/2020
[Image: Fijian Government]

The Association of Banks in Fiji has reassured the Minister for Economy as part of their submission for the 2020/2021 National Budget that they will continue to assist the customers who are unable to make loan repayments even if they are unable to pay after their loan repayment holiday.

Responding to questions on when they will consider repossessing property, Association Chairman, Rakesh Ram says the banks are currently able to sustain whatever assistance they are providing to the customers in terms of managing the situation and they are working with the customers on how they can continue to help them without taking any drastic action.

Ram says they are still trying to work with the customers and the relevant stakeholders.

The Chairman adds that they are looking at the situation positively and are hoping the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon.

The association is made up of ANZ, Westpac, BSP, BRED Bank, HFC and Bank of Baroda.




We need to work together – Fantasha Lockington

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/07/2020
Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Fantasha Lockington. [image: File]

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association CEO, Fantasha Lockington is hoping that some relief is provided by the government by reducing import and excise duties and taxes to assist the tourism sector.

Tourism is the worst affected sector with the borders closed and there are estimates that more than 115,000 jobs have been affected.

Lockington says the reduction of duties and taxes will help them to reduce overhead costs, and when the costs are reduced, they can better package the products.

She says this will make Fiji more attractive when the borders open because we will all be competing on the world stage, and it will also assist in local tourism.

Lockington says we have to work together to get Fiji on a speedy path to economic recovery and they know tourism can do this.

She says we all have to look at how can we keep jobs, how can we encourage investment and how can we keep small and micro businesses in operation.

The CEO says the operators in the tourism and the hotel sector are still trying to look after their workers on reduced hours or leave without pay however this cannot be sustainable for a long period of time.

  



BSP Fiji assisting more than 5,000 customers impacted by COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Friday 17/07/2020
BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali

Bank South Pacific Fiji says it has been assisting more than 5,000 customers impacted by COVID-19 with its relief packages.

When asked if BSP Fiji was taking any recovery action against its customers, BSP Fiji Country Head Haroon Ali says none of their affected customers are in default as they are all enjoying the relief packages, therefore the issue of the bank taking recovery action does not arise at all.

In March, BSP Fiji announced that to assist customers impacted by COVID-19, they will be providing relief packages on a case by case basis.

BSP Fiji says for personal loans, there will be six months' principal and interest holiday.

For car loans, there will be six months principal and interest holiday. There will be a repayment holiday of up to 6 months on credit cards and six months principal and interest holiday on home loans.

It says the maturity term will be extended by a commensurate term of the suspended repayment period.

BSP Fiji says for business customers, there will be principal and interest holidays for up to six months.




An additional 115,000 unemployed due to the pandemic and others living on or below the poverty line eargerly await budget announcement

By Vijay Narayan, Pratika Mala
Friday 17/07/2020

People living on or below the poverty line in the country will be eagerly awaiting the 2020/2021 National Budget announcement tonight on how they will be assisted during this pandemic which has affected everyone.

With the confirmation that an additional 115,000 people are unemployed in the country, the Social Welfare Department confirms they have started receiving cases of people who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Fijians are also working reduced hours.

The government is currently spending more than $105 million a year to assist Fijians through various programs.

According to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, if a household income is less than $209.24 per week, they are considered to be living below the poverty line.

In the 2017 Census, it was stated that 28% of Fiji's population lived below the poverty line. This number is expected to rise due to increased unemployment and reduced hours.

Meanwhile, 25,467 families are currently being assisted under the Poverty Benefit Scheme.

8,183 people are getting assistance under the Care and Protection Scheme.

All those receiving the state welfare assistance in the Poverty Benefit and Care and Protection schemes are also getting $50 food vouchers for approved basic food items.

45,954 senior citizens who are 65 years and above with no source of income are being assisted under the Social Pension Scheme.

2,142 rural pregnant mothers are also getting $50 food vouchers under the Expanded Food Voucher Program.

52,640 people are being assisted under the Bus Fare Concession Program where senior citizens aged 60 years and above and disabled persons receive a $40 top up per month. The top up per month is currently $20 due to COVID-19.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the 2020/2021 National Budget address at 7.30 tonight.

Stay with us for coverage on how the budget announcement will affect you. Find out which taxes and duties will go up or down and how it affects your pocket, and how the government will allocate money to provide services to the people of Fiji in the new financial year. You can also follow live coverage of the speech, live updates, detailed analysis and budget responses on our website, fijivillage tonight.




Housing Authority COVID-19 relief packages can be extended for customers that continue to be affected

By Semi Turaga
Friday 17/07/2020
Housing Authority Head Office. [image: file]

The Housing Authority of Fiji has confirmed its 3 months COVID-19 relief packages can be extended for customers whose financial situation has not improved even after three months.

CEO Robert Sen says these customers can contact the Housing Authority and have a discussion about their situation.

He says they have received 347 applications and out of this, 290 has been approved.

Sen says a few have been declined while they are awaiting further information for some applications.

The Housing Authority of Fiji COVID-19 assistance was for customers who have lost their jobs, are on reduced hours or leave without pay for a certain period of time.

Sen says most of the customers have applied for deferring of repayment for three months while a few have changed the contract whereby the loan repayment can be extended and a few have also opted to pay interest only for 3 months.




Asco Foundation donates $15,000 to FENC Fiji to assist children impacted by TC Harold and COVID-19

By Iva Danford
Thursday 16/07/2020

Asco Foundation has donated $15,000 to the Foundation for the Education of Needy Children(FENC Fiji), to assist children impacted by TC Harold and families impacted by COVID-19.

Director and CEO for Asco Motors and Foundation Trustee, Craig Sims says they view education as the most important resource for Fiji, to allow children to grow into inquisitive and informed members of society.

Sims says this donation will go a small way in helping some children learn and grow.

He says their prior donation in January 2020, allowed for the provision of 338 school bags for children and they are hoping for a similar amount to be provided to children.

FENCF Fiji Officer In Charge National Operations Priya Lata says the Asco Foundation has come through once again to support their team and they are grateful for the foundation's continued support, especially during this challenging time.

The recent donation from the Asco Foundation was the 40 road safety kits for schools around Viti and Vanua Levu.




Lakshmi Narayan Temple members come forward to help Fijians affected by COVID-19

By Faria Begum Ali
Saturday 11/07/2020
Members of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Suva and PM Voreqe Bainimarama. [image: Fijian Government]

Members of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Suva have come forward with relief supplies to help Fijians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The supplies which includes school stationery, groceries, household items and other items were handed to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

While receiving the donation, Bainimarama says these supplies will provide satisfaction and contentment to some families during these trying times.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the giving spirit of these members who over the years have been extending a helping hand and donating for the needy in society.




3 Marriott resorts to readjust workforce due to COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 08/07/2020
Sheraton Resort on Denarau. [image: tripadvisor]

The Fiji Marriott Resort on Momi Bay and the Westin and Sheraton Resorts on Denarau Island have made a decision to readjust their workforce due to the impacts of COVID-19 however more details on how many workers will be let go will be revealed in the next few days.

The three hotels currently employ around 1,000 workers.

Cluster Director of Human Resources, Farrah Shazleen says they will be consulting each affected associate including the Hotel Workers Union and the landowning community.

Shazleen says they have experienced a significant drop in demand which is likely to continue for an uncertain duration as the prior levels of hospitality activities in Fiji is not expected to return until beyond 2021.

National Union of Hotel and Catering Employees General Secretary, Daniel Urai says they have an agreement with the management that they must go through the redundancy process if they want to let workers go.

Urai says under the current agreement each worker will receive a week’s pay for each year of service and workers can only reapply once things normalize.

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BSP Life donates $30k to help families affected by COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Friday 10/07/2020
BSP Life has donated $30,000 to help families affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

BSP Life has donated $30,000 to help families affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donation has been distributed to the Fiji Cancer Society – Hope at Home initiative, Veilomani Food Bank, Being Helping Hands Fiji, as well as workers in the tourism sector.

BSP Life says this is in addition to $7,000 that was raised by BSP Life staff through internal fundraising efforts with food packs distributed in June to families in the Central, Western, and Northern Division.

BSP Life Managing Director Michael Nacola says they see and hear of heartbreaking stories every day of families finding it difficult to make ends meet during this crisis.

He says they hope that this small donation will go some way to supporting those in need.

Nacola says they applaud the effort of the various organisations that are coordinating the assistance programs and urge everyone, including corporate organisations, who can assist to do so in whatever way possible.

Ministry of Housing and Community Development Permanent Secretary Sanjeeva Perera says it is partnerships like these that enable them to assist the community and they are grateful to BSP Life, as part of a strong business community for coming forward and providing the much-needed assistance.



Important COVID-19 announcement by the Health Ministry at 3pm

By Semi Turaga
Friday 10/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong will hold a press conference at 3 o’clock this afternoon in relation to COVID-19.

Stay with us for the important announcement.

You can also follow us on our website, fijivillage.com for the live coverage




Super-yachts want to come to Fiji during this time – Koya

By Semi Turaga
Friday 10/07/2020
[Image: Marbella Yacht Charter]

Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya says there has been a large amount of inquiries from people with super-yachts that want to come to Fiji during this time.

He says they are receiving inquiries about whether Fiji can facilitate this but the government is making it clear that all necessary COVID-19 protocols have to be followed.

Koya says there are one-percenters around the world who will follow the necessary protocols and pay for the actual exercise to do it and there is nothing bad about it.

He says it is not just Fiji doing it.

Last month the government approved a private jet to come in with a group of 30 high net worth individuals from a well-known company.

The group arrived in the jet and went in a seaplane to an island resort.

They will spend three months in the country.




Only about 20% of hotels have re-opened - Lockington

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 09/07/2020
CEO of the Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington

Only about 20% of the 400 resorts and hotels in the country have re-opened as local tourism slowly picks up.

The CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington says this is because domestic tourism does not come out for the whole week but only a weekend or maybe three days at the most.

She says apart from people not having the time or the money to spend more time in hotels and resorts, the response to the “Love our Locals” campaign has been great.

Lockington says it has allowed the hotels that have decided to open to test out the new way of doing business.

She says the International Labour Organisation has identified that there are around 115,000 unemployed workers right now who have been directly affected by the current economic situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockington says this probably includes many of the communities that get supported by tourism activity or businesses.

She says COVID-19 is teaching them that if they do not change quickly and the rest of the world will beat them.




New virtual training to help 1,500 Fijian tourism workers find new jobs or start businesses

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 08/07/2020

1,500 Fijian workers in the tourism and hospitality sector affected by COVID-19 will be offered virtual development training that will help them find alternative employment or even start their micro-businesses.

This training will be provided entirely free of cost and the actual beneficiaries will be identified after a pilot run of the training which will initially focus on 40 unemployed people.

These 40 people have already been registered after being identified by the Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association.

After the pilot run of the project, the training will then be expanded to cover an additional 3000 plus people in Fiji as well as Pacific island nations including Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The courses including the materials such as data packages, advocacy support, communication, and monitoring reporting are made possible by UNDP through the support of the government of Japan which provided the funding.

Other partners include the United Nations Development Fund, the Pacific Tourism Organisation, Australia Pacific Training Coalition, and Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association.

The courses are provided by APTC and will comprise of micro-credential courses which will be prerequisites for an additional skills course.

Micro-credentials are certification-style qualifications that individuals choose to study to improve a skill found in a particular industry area.




Cawa Methodist Chapel to conduct Food Drive to assist 30 families in need

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 07/07/2020
Cawa Methodist Chapel in Martintar, Nadi

As Nadi continues to be one of the worst affected from the COVID-19 pandemic because of unemployment, members of the Cawa Methodist Chapel in Martintar, Nadi have come together to organize a food drive to help 30 families who are in need.

Organizer of the Food Drive, Biu Waqaniburotu says because there are no more tourists, most of the people in Nadi are now unemployed and are in need of assistance.

Waqaniburotu says this initiative is on a barter system basis where they will provide a dozen cup cakes and a bundle of fish in exchange for groceries.

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He says they did some food distribution last month and as school has started, they wish to help these people in whatever way they can.

Waqaniburotu says they will also have live entertainment by members of the congregation who used to serenade in hotels and are now unemployed.

The Food Drive will be held next to the NASA camp in Nadi from 10am to 3.30pm this Saturday.




Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha to provide meals to students affected by COVID-19 while Arya Pratinidhi Sabha making an assessment

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 02/07/2020
Sabha President Sarju Prasad. [image: file]

The Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji will be providing meals to students attending their various schools who have been affected by COVID-19 while the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji is yet to decide on how they will be assisting students attending their schools.

The Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha runs 117 schools in the country and they have more than 70,000 students.

Sabha President Sarju Prasad says they are in talks with the various school management on how this can be organised.

He says people can also contact their branches if they need assistance.

Prasad is urging students to be forthcoming with their teachers so that they can be assisted.

He has also reiterated the message of the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Education Ministry and says that parents should send their children to school even if they do not have school supplies, uniforms or even if they are unable to bring their lunch.

Meanwhile, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji President Bhuwan Dutt says they will be having a meeting with their members next week to decide on how they will be helping their students.

The Sabha runs 14 primary schools and 6 high schools.




FNPF Board approves relief package for employers

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 01/07/2020
Fiji National Provident Fund Board CEO Jaoji Koroi

The Fiji National Provident Fund Board has approved a relief package for employers that will be effective from January 2020 until June 2021.

While more details on this relief package for employers is set to be announced next week, CEO Jaoji Koroi has revealed that it will consist of a waiver of penalties, time payment arrangements, and relaxation on third party payments.

On the waiver of penalties, Koroi says these are penalties on late payments for employers and they will relax this to help the employers as they are facing a lot of difficulties.

FNPF Chief Financial Officer Pravinesh Singh says there would also be extended time payments for up to 12 months.

Singh says in the last 2 months they have seen close to 1,600 employers not pay up on time.

He says this relief package is for employers in this category.

Singh says employers that will need to be assisted will have to come to FNPF where some sort of arrangement will be worked out.

He says these employers that want to be assisted through the relief package will have to pay something upfront and they will get relief on the penalty but will be given some time to pay.

Specific details on the FNPF relief package for employers will be released next week.




PRB has not evicted anyone from any of their flats during the COVID-19 period - Patrick Veu

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 02/07/2020

Public Rental Board Acting General Manager, Patrick Veu confirms that no one has been evicted from any of their flats during the COVID-19 period, however people who were earning more than $16,500 and have lost their jobs or are on reduced hours have been reconsidered to stay in their flats.

Veu says families whose annual income is more than $16,500 are not eligible for PRB flats.

He says they have issued eviction notices but the actual process of getting people to move out of the flats because they are facing financial difficulties has not been done.

Veu says they have slowed down this process.

He says they are trying to identify those who are still earning more than $16,500 to serve them with notices as they are not eligible to live in these flats.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Local Government and Housing Premila Kumar says 112 PRB tenants have been served with eviction notices because they do not qualify to live in those flats. Kumar says the flats are given to families on subsidized rates, which simply means that they try and save money and move out when they have enough savings.

PRB has 24 rental estates comprising 1,753 rental flats.




Faith Based Organizations await data from Education Ministry to assist students with lunch and bus fare

By Iva Danford, Faria Begum Ali
Wednesday 01/07/2020
Methodist Church in Fiji Secretary for Education, Waisake Ravatu and Fiji Muslim League President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan.

Faith Based Organizations are awaiting data from the Ministry of Education on the number of students that need assistance in terms of bus fare and lunch.

Methodist Church in Fiji Secretary for Education, Waisake Ravatu says the ministry wanted to form a partnership to see to how they, as a faith based group intend to help students who are facing hardships as their parents are on reduced hours or do not have a job.

Ravatu says once they get that data from the ministry as to who all will need help in bus fare and lunch, and they will work out strategies on how they will help the students.

He says they appreciate what the Ministry has done in trying to help these students.

Meanwhile the Fiji Muslim League President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan says the meeting with the ministry which was held today was to discuss the possibility of assisting students with lunch which was something which they are already doing.

Khan says they are now gearing up to assist a bigger number of students who will be resuming school from Monday.

Khan says they are rolling out assistance for needy students outside of their Zakaat Program in the form of lunch.

These students come from families who were adversely impacted by the Tropical Cyclone Harold and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

More than 150,000 people are directly or indirectly affected by the drastic drop in visitor arrivals as a result of the global pandemic.




Darkroom Technician turns to selling snacks to earn cash

By Faria Begum Ali
Wednesday 01/07/2020
43-year-old Ronald Prasad

43-year-old Ronald Prasad says when he was told that he would not get full hours of work in a week, he knew he could not just sit around his home and assume that its the end of the world.

Prasad who is a Darkroom Technician at Faith Printing in Vatuwaqa says after being told he would only work two days a week, he decided he would sell fried snacks in order to earn extra cash to cater for his family’s expenses.

Prasad walks from Victoria Parade to Waimanu Road in Suva selling snacks from building to building.

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He says his wife is a good cook and knew he would earn at least some cash to support his 40-year-old wife and 13-year-old daughter.

Prasad continues to work for Faith Printing and says he earns more selling snacks than working for the printing company.

The 43-year-old says he earns close to $75 dollars in a day.




FNPF Board approves relief package for employers

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 01/07/2020
Fiji National Provident Fund Board CEO Jaoji Koroi

The Fiji National Provident Fund Board has approved a relief package for employers that will be effective from January 2020 until June 2021.

While more details on this relief package for employers is set to be announced next week, CEO Jaoji Koroi has revealed that it will consist of a waiver of penalties, time payment arrangements, and relaxation on third party payments.

On the waiver of penalties, Koroi says these are penalties on late payments for employers and they will relax this to help the employers as they are facing a lot of difficulties.

FNPF Chief Financial Officer Pravinesh Singh says there would also be extended time payments for up to 12 months.

Singh says in the last 2 months they have seen close to 1,600 employers not pay up on time.

He says this relief package is for employers in this category.

Singh says employers that will need to be assisted will have to come to FNPF where some sort of arrangement will be worked out.

He says these employers that want to be assisted through the relief package will have to pay something upfront and they will get relief on the penalty but will be given some time to pay.

Specific details on the FNPF relief package for employers will be released next week.




Fiji Muslim League says no student to be left out

By Faria Begum Ali
Tuesday 30/06/2020
President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan says no student should be left out in this time of need.

The Fiji Muslim League has come forward to provide lunch for students whose families have been affected by COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold and are in need of assistance.

Year 12 and 13 students resume school from this morning while other students resume school from the 6th of July.

President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan says no student should be left out in this time of need.

He says heads of schools under the Fiji Muslim League have been advised to make an assessment on which students need assistance and make arrangements with the school management.

Khan says this is outside of the assistance that they already provide for the needy students under their Zakaat Program.

He says the school management will make arrangements for the students’ lunches.

Teachers will provide students with forms that they have to fill in order to get assistance.




Japan has so far extended FJD $40 million of Stand-by Loan in addition to the other grant assistance – Japanese Ambassador to Fiji

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 27/06/2020
[Image: Australian High Commission Media]

The Japanese Ambassador to Fiji, Masahiro Omura says Japan has been coordinating with the Fijian Government to cope with the situation of COVID-19 and aftermath of TC Harold and so far they have extended FJD $40 million of Stand-by Loan in addition to the other grant assistance.

He made the comments as he together with the US Ambassador to Fiji and the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioner’s to Fiji toured the Western Division to hold ‘Friends Talanoa’ sessions with Fijians from all walks of life.

IMG-7397[Image: Australian High Commission Media]

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says Australia has been working closely with the Fijian Government in response to COVID-19, and this trip was an opportunity to see that work in action.

Feakes says it has been inspiring to hear how Fijians are supporting each other and their communities.

IMG-7267[Image: Australian High Commission Media]

The U.S Ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella, says this is a pioneering moment for people to people diplomacy in Fiji by the diplomatic corps.

Cella says this is an excellent opportunity for people in the Western Division to confer about ideas for overcoming economic adversity.

IMG-7752[Image: Australian High Commission Media]

IMG-8055[Image: Australian High Commission Media]

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Jonathan Curr, says in such challenging times it has been important to come together with his diplomatic colleagues to connect with Fijians from all walks of life to better understand the social and economic challenges affecting the country.




US$200,000 UNDP Fiji funding to help the quarantining of returning Fijians

By Semi Turaga
Friday 26/06/2020

US$200,000 is being provided by the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji to ensure the adequate quarantining and monitoring of returning Fijian citizens are effectively implemented.

This funding has been made possible through a new partnership between the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and the Fijian Government, through the Ministries of Economy and Health and Medical Services.

It will be used to keep returning citizens in isolation in designated hotels, supervised by authorized doctors and nurses and officials of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces to monitor the health status or possible symptoms of COVID-19.

The funds will also be used to pay accommodation costs, meals for these repatriated citizens and meal allowances for the medical personnel.

The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Levan Bouadze says defeating this pandemic is the ultimate aim and UNDP will look at ways to help countries to better prevent and manage such pandemics.

Bouadze says UNDP’s support will also help ensure that the responses of individual countries such as Fiji are comprehensive as well as equitable and inclusive so that no one is left behind and countries can continue to progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji's COVID-safe travel protocols allow them to welcome back returning citizens without jeopardizing the COVID-contained status they have worked diligently to achieve.

He says this is a global pandemic that demands stronger bridges of global cooperation to overcome, and they're grateful for the UNDP's support towards returning Fijian citizens home safely at no direct cost to them.




Govt hopes to make an announcement to assist people on reduced hours through FNPF

By Iva Danford
Friday 26/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at National Budget Consultation in Sigatoka. [image: Fiji Govt]

The Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they hope to make an announcement in the next few days with regards to assisting people who are on reduced hours through the Fiji National Provident Fund.

Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this after a staff of Tappoos questioned him during the National Budget Consultation in Sigatoka if there are any future plans for people who are on reduced hours.

He says they met with FNPF this week and hope to make that announcement soon.

Meanwhile, 15,920 FNPF members received their $220 relief payment on Tuesday for Phase Two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

Out of these, 1,283 members are receiving their second payment after being assisted on 5th June.

Altogether, these members will be paid $17.5 million over a period of 10 weeks.

The total payment was $3.5 million, with $1.7 million subsidized by government.

These members will continue to receive their fortnightly payments until their total funds of $1,100 are fully paid.




Banks do not want to hear from us unless the tourism sector opens up - Westside Motorbike Rentals

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 26/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

A representative of the Westside Motorbike Rentals and Go Dirty Tours has told the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum that commercial banks do not want to hear from them unless tourism opens up.

While speaking during the National Budget consultation in Nadi, the representative of the company highlighted that they fall under the small-medium enterprise and their business is shut down for now.

He says they have people working with them who have been trained for years to operate and maintain the machines and they still are holding on to these employees as they can’t afford to lose them as once they go back to the islands, they will not come back.

He says they are trying to go to the banks and are asking them to increase their overdraft facility but the banks are telling them to wait for the tourism sector to open up.

While responding, Sayed-Khaiyum says they do not have the legal authority to force the banks to get into a particular framework or to give people loans in the tourism sector.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds that they do not have a very big Fijian owned bank and all the banks in Fiji apart from HFC are foreign-owned and decisions are made offshore.

He says they will talk to the banks and they are hoping to have another round of consultation next week.




World Bank approves US$7.4 million funding for Fiji

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 25/06/2020

The World Bank has approved funding of US$7.4 million to further support the government of Fiji to strengthen its health systems in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.

It says with Fiji’s Prime Minister Vorerqe Bainimarama having declared Fiji COVID-19 free, the focus is now turning to efforts to provide longer-term health security for Fijians, and to the economic recovery phase.

This World Bank support will assist the Government of Fiji to strengthen its response to future infectious disease outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The project will also provide additional medical supplies including Personal Protective Equipment, intensive care unit beds and ventilators, as well as the installation of a medical incinerator that will serve three divisional hospitals in Fiji, including the CWM Hospital.

The World Bank’s US$7.4m commitment to Fiji is being delivered through a US$6.4m dedicated emergency health project through the International Development Association. This financing is provided on concessional terms under the Small Islands Economies Exception with 0% interest, a 10-year grace period and 40 years maturity.

The additional US$1 million grant will be drawn from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.




5% interest to be credited into FNPF members’ accounts tonight

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 30/06/2020
FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi.

Good news for Fiji National Provident Fund members as an interest rate of 5% worth a total of $286.2 million will be credited to over 388,000 FNPF members’ accounts at midnight tonight.

FNPF says this is the interest rate for the financial year ending 30th June 2020 and the amount which each FNPF member gains will depend entirely on their average balance during the year.

Members must have a positive balance to receive this interest rate.

CEO Jaoji Koroi says the FNPF has paid over $1.43 billion in interest to members’ accounts over the last 5 years.

Koroi says this crediting rate has been determined after the FNPF Actuary confirmed that the amount will not place undue stress on the solvency requirements of the FNPF.

He says this is a very important safeguard for the Fund.

Koroi says last year, when they declared the interest, they had clearly advised members last year, that the interest declared was reflective of the one-off revaluation gains recorded in the accounts last financial year, and the rate would normalise this year.

He says however, with the added economic downturn impacted by COVID-19, it has resulted in the declaration of 5 percent.

Koroi says whilst this rate is lower than they have initially anticipated, it is still very competitive given the current economic and investment environment.

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Koroi has reassured members that the Fund remains in a strong financial position.

He says the full economic impact of COVID-19 is still working through the economy and will be more prominent in the coming year.

Koroi says accordingly, FNPF investments in the tourism sector will continue to be affected in 2021.

He says they will therefore rely on their investments in the balance of their portfolio including the 42% investments in safer Government bonds to support the returns next year.

Koroi says this is the benefit of diversification.

He adds the Fund’s investment team is closely monitoring the economic climate of the country and the global community and they will continue to seek opportunities that would optimise returns.

Koroi says all industries, including the superannuation industry are facing immense challenges with the key challenge being the need to strike a balance between helping members during this difficult period without losing sight of the core objective, which is to ensure that the members will have a meaningful income when they reach retirement.




Govt could be looking at incentives for those hotels and resorts who will look at offering attractive tourist packages with Fiji Airways - AG

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 26/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they are mulling over the proposals that have been put forward to reduce taxes and duties in the tourism sector and in other areas however he says the concerns remain on whether any reductions will result in changes to the pricing structure in the hotel industry.

While speaking in the 2020/2021 National Budget consultation in Lautoka, Sayed-Khaiyum says the government could be looking at incentives for those hotels and resorts who will look at offering attractive tourist packages with Fiji Airways.

Sayed-Khaiyum says duties on goods are significantly reasonable at the moment and there have been concerns raised in the past where the reduction of duties have not been passed on to the consumers.

He made the comment after a question raised by businessman, Abdul Khan for the government to look at reducing duties on imported goods to spur construction activity.

The Minister says the government knows that this is a good time to build and they are looking at options.




Over 15,000 FNPF members receive relief payment for Phase Two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 23/06/2020
FNPF’s Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi

15,920 Fiji National Provident Fund members received their $220 relief payment yesterday for Phase Two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

Out of these,1,283 members are receiving their second payment after being assisted on 5th June.

Altogether, these members will be paid $17.5 million over a period of 10 weeks.

Yesterday’s payments totaled $3.5 million, with $1.7 million subsidized by government. These members will continue to receive their fortnightly payments until their total funds of $1,100 are fully paid.

FNPF’s Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi says that the Fund has automated its withdrawal processes to improve the efficiency of services to members.

Koroi has also revealed that approximately 645 members have missed the deadline for this first payment because their applications were still pending with their employers.

The Phase Two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme is targeting members on leave without pay and those who are unemployed.

The maximum amount for this withdrawal phase is $1,100, with $220 disbursed to the member’s bank account on a fortnightly basis, with the final payment on 18th August.

The next payment cycle will be processed on 7th July and members applying for the first time must ensure that FNPF receives their application before 3rd July.

He also reveals that they have almost 70,000 members registered on the myFNPF app who are potential users of their digital services.




French Embassy in Fiji is planning to organise a women’s expo for market vendors affected by COVID-19 pandemic

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020
The Ambassador of France to Fiji Jean-François Fitou (left) with Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister Yogesh Karan. [image: Fijian Govt]

The Ambassador of France to Fiji Jean-François Fitou says in line with the National France Day to be commemorated next month on 14th July, the French Embassy in Fiji is planning to organise a women’s expo program in partnership with Women in Business (Fiji) and other sponsors, where women market vendors will be able to sell their products and earn income for their families

He says this program aspires to assist the many women market vendors who have been affected by the economic downturn incurred as a result of COVID19.

Fitou says the French Embassy is also working on assisting the Fiji Sugar Corporation, and details of the assistance will be made known later.

Ambassador Fitou says progressive consultations are currently underway to have a French Language Training Program for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff and other ministries that are keen on taking this initiative on board.

Fitou met with the Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister Yogesh Karan on Friday and discussed new collaboration opportunities between the two nations to advance their mutual interests and development priorities.

Karan is also the Permanent Secretary for Immigration and Sugar Industry and Acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Karan has acknowledged France for its longstanding partnership and support that has positively contributed towards Fiji’s national development.

He also reaffirmed Fiji’s commitment to strengthen the potential areas of cooperation with Fiji’s development partners, with solidarity being at the heart of the regional and national recovery strategies.




About 500 families assisted through Veilomani Food Bank Initiative to date

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 17/06/2020
PS Ministry of Housing and Community Development Sanjeeva Perera while receiving a donation of 100 food packs from Mobil Oil Fiji today

About 500 families have been assisted through the Veilomani Food Bank Initiative to date.

This has been revealed by Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Housing and Community Development, Sanjeeva Perera while receiving a donation of 100 food packs from Mobil Oil Fiji today.

Perera says they have 2,000 applications on hand and they are in the process of verifying the applications.

He says about 300 families were assisted when the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission was running the program and 200 families have been assisted since the Ministry of Housing and Community Development started running the program.

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Perera says the program is fully dependent on the donations they receive and through today's 100 food pack donation, they will assist 100 families throughout the country.

He says they have noticed there is an increase in the number of applications in the past two weeks and they are trying their best to assist people who have been the most affected by COVID-19.

The Ministry of Housing and Community Development has been running the program for two months.

The CEO of Mobil Oil Fiji, Adi Tamara has thanked the FCCC and Ministry of Housing and Community Development for coming up with an initiative to assist the affected people.




Elder persons at greater risk of vulnerability in the context of COVID-19 - Raj

By Faria Begum Ali
Sunday 14/06/2020
Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj

The Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj says older persons in our society are equal in dignity and rights and deserve to live a life free of abuse.

As today marks the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Raj says lock-downs, physical distancing, and limitations to our rights and freedoms during these extra-ordinary times should not be used as an excuse to neglect and ill-treat older persons in our communities.

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He says older persons are more vulnerable and at a greater risk of facing violence, neglect, socio-economic challenges, discrimination, inhumane treatment, and isolation more than ever in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says they must have access to health services, water, sanitation facilities, and humanitarian support.

Raj reiterates that the elderly must be treated fairly regardless of their age and other prohibited grounds of discrimination prescribed under the Fijian Constitution.

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director adds that older persons must be protected against verbal, mental, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.

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Drop in price of properties during COVID-19 period - REALB

By Iva Danford, Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/06/2020
Real Estate Agents Licensing Board Chairman Dr. Abdul Hassan

There has been a drop in the number of property sales in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic period and the prices of properties now are not as lucrative as it used to be in the past.

This has been confirmed by the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board Chairman Dr. Abdul Hassan who says that last month, there were 80 property sales compared to the normal 100 plus sales they do every month.

Hassan says last month in Suva alone only 8 property sales took place compared to 15 sales on a normal month.

He says they have received requests from 12 real estate agents who are saying that their business has dropped and it is not as active as it used to be in the past.

Hassan says after analysing the sales for this month, they have determined that in the months of January to April the overall reduction has been -4%.

He says the prices of properties have decreased.




COVID-19 has prompted emerging markets like Fiji to focus on developing domestic tourism – Koya

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 13/06/2020
Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya - [Photo: Natalyn / Ministry of Tourism]

Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya says whilst we traditionally relied on international visitors COVID-19 has prompted emerging markets like Fiji to focus on developing domestic tourism to boost the economy.

While launching the Nadi Handicraft Night Market, Koya says it is during times like these, that we need to support our people by buying locally.

102976481-282960656163692-7734528982365080235-n[Photo: Natalyn / Ministry of Tourism]

He further says new and innovative concepts such as night markets are their way of demonstrating resilience towards the global pandemic, which has changed the landscape of doing business globally.

Koya adds with Fiji being declared COVID-19 free, this is a turning point for our country to make the most of the inventiveness and conduct business domestically to ensure the wheels of Fiji’s economy keeps turning.

103670162-2874510986007825-5243202685157758391-n[Photo: Natalyn / Ministry of Tourism]

Koya says we must stay positive and see this as an opportunity to re-engineer and introduce new ideas.

He says their love our local's concept will enable locals to display their creativity, in the lead up to restoration of our Tourism industry, which is also a heartbeat of Nadi and the Fijian economy.




More than 120,000 Fijians expected to benefit from additional funds made available by the Australian govt

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 12/06/2020
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes

More than 120,000 Fijians are expected to benefit from the $10.7 million that has been made available today by the Australian Government to the Fijian Government.

These Fijians are the existing recipients of the Poverty Benefit Scheme, Care and Protection Allowance and Disability Allowance.

$7.7 million will be used to assist the Fijian Government in its efforts to support Fiji’s most vulnerable members of society as Fiji responds to both COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold.

$2.2 million will be used by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation to implement critical reforms.

$907,000 is also to assist the Ministry of Health and Medical Services with the ongoing COVID-19 response.

This agreement builds on the previous $18 million direct funding agreement signed between Fiji and Australia last month for budget support.




Fiji deserves better than second-class consideration in a regional travel arrangement - Sayed-Khaiyum

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 11/06/2020
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji has accused Australia and New Zealand of demoting the Pacific nation to "second-class consideration" in talks over a trans-Tasman travel bubble plan.

As New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters complained about ongoing state border closures in Australia, Fiji says it, too, has eliminated COVID-19 and should be able to welcome Australian tourist traffic.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told The Australian Financial Review Fiji’s success should "burst" the two-country bubble.

Sayed-Khaiyum says with no new cases in nearly two months, Fiji deserves better than second-class consideration in a regional travel arrangement.

He says this pandemic has left our tourism industry paralysed.

Sayed-Khaiyum says in the interest of the thousands of Fijians who are now unemployed, we are actively exploring all potential options, and are open to creative ideas – including a state-led resumption of travel between Australia and Fiji.

He says if a fraction of the 10 million Australians who travel overseas each year came to Fiji in 2020, the local economy could be quickly revived.




500 ration packs donated by the French Embassy

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 10/06/2020
3 organizations have today received 500 food ration packs from the French Embassy

Three organizations have today received 500 food ration packs from the French Embassy.

While handing over the ration packs to The Salvation Army, Solo Moms Project and Being Helping Hands Fiji, the French Ambassador to Fiji, Jean-Francois Fitou says that this a token of appreciation.

Fitou says they know that these months have been difficult for the grassroots people.

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The French Ambassador says even people who had good jobs a few months ago have now lost their resources.

He thanked the organization for the assistance that they have provided for the people.

Fitou also says that as much as they can they will provide help in the future.




Applications for second phase of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme have to be done digitally – FNPF

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 10/06/2020
Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi

The second phase of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme for members of the Fiji National Provident Fund will be a digitized process and members will need to submit their applications through the myFNPF App or employers can lodge applications on members’ behalf.

Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi says the Fund will not receive application forms at its offices.

He says while the forms will be available on the FNPF website or with employers, it will not be required when applying through the App.

Koroi says given the high volume of applications in phase one, they are now automating the whole process for phase two.

He says they have allocated resources at all their offices, to assist members with their App registration process and have enhanced the myFNPF App to enable members to apply digitally and at their convenience.

Koroi has also revealed that they have found that there are a few employers who were not compliant in terms of paying members’ contributions, however, they had made allowances during phase one to enable members to receive their relief funds.

All services at the Fund’s offices will continue as normal during phase two, however, the FNPF Agency at Valelevu has been closed.

Meanwhile, the second phase of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme for members of the FNPF now includes those who are on leave without pay.

Koroi says that while this phase was aimed at providing immediate relief for members who were genuinely unemployed, it has been extended to those who have been sent on leave without pay, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says they will be relying on employers to be upfront with them regarding the status of their employees and their teams will also conduct the necessary checks to verify members’ employment status.

Phase one of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme has been closed with a total of 85,959 members paid $54.2 million.




FNPF members can only withdraw 30% of their funds

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 05/06/2020
FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says as at 30th June last year FNPF’s total assets was $7.4 billion and Members Funds stood at $5.9 billion.

The Fiji National Provident Fund stresses that members can only access 30% of their funds in their General Account for pre-retirement withdrawals like housing, medical, funeral, unemployment and education however 70% of their funds will always remain in the Preserved Account for retirement.

FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says as at 30th June last year FNPF’s total assets was $7.4 billion and Members Funds stood at $5.9 billion.

Koroi also says that the operations and business environment for superannuation funds in Australia differs from FNPF.

He says superannuation members in Australia don’t have access to their funds before their retirement, and the AUD$10,000 that the members there can withdraw is a one-off situation during the current pandemic.

Koroi says FNPF is not just a retirement savings fund, but they also have social security obligations and they will stand by the members in their time of need.

He says to be able to provide this withdrawal specifically for COVID-19, the Fund has had to make amendments to the FNPF Act 2011, which is a reflection of the extraordinary situation we are in at the moment.

Koroi also says that whilst the opportunity is available for members to access their funds, ultimately, they will base their decision to withdraw on their personal financial circumstances and the Fund continues to encourage those that have not been affected, to make an informed decision on whether they want to access their funds because any withdrawal will impact their retirement savings.




Discussions underway for Fiji to be included in the travel bubble and Green Lane

By Iva Danford
Friday 05/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they are having continuous discussions with New Zealand and Australia for Fiji to be part of the travel bubble.

Sayed-Khaiyum says last week he met with the New Zealand High Commissioner and discussed what sort of protocols can be developed to allow Fiji to be part of it.

He says Australia and New Zealand need to create their bubble first, and once this is done, then they will be looking at Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum says a very important element in this is the contact tracing app which will be launched next week by the Prime Minister.

He says they are also having talks with Singapore asking them for Fiji to be part of the Green Lane.

Labeled “Green Lane” arrangements, Singapore hopes to restart essential travel with states that are controlling the COVID-19 situation well.

Countries establish green-lane arrangements when they believe they can resume essential travel – for business and official purposes – with one another.




$20,000 donated by Macao-based Chinese company to COVID-19 Relief Fund

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 04/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received the cheque today - [Photo: Fijian government Facebook Page]

$20,000 has been donated by Macao-based Chinese company David Group and its charity arm, Soi Ian Charity Association to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received the cheque today and it is part of the organisations’ ongoing support towards Fiji’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

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A government statement says last week, the organisation handed over the first set of assistance which included 20,000 COVID-19 test kits valued at $187,500 to the Fijian Government through the Office of the Consulate-General of Fiji in Shanghai.

While receiving the donation, Bainimarama thanked the organisations on behalf of the government and the people of Fiji, adding such funding assistance will certainly assist the country towards containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation's representative Gang Jin said they wanted to contribute to the country’s fight against COVID-19 because Fiji is their second home.

He says they also aim to invest in the country and contribute to its economic growth.




European Union provides $50 million budget support to Fiji for the next 3 years

By Semi Turaga, Iva Danford
Thursday 04/06/2020
EU Ambassador to the Pacific Sujiro Seam and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The European Union has announced that it is providing $50 million as budget support to the Fijian government for the next three years and $20 million is the assistance payment for 2020.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the Financing Agreement, EU Ambassador to the Pacific Sujiro Seam says this is a sign of the trust and confidence placed by the EU in the government of Fiji.

He says they trust the capacity of the government of Fiji to face the health consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and also congratulate the government for steps taken so far which has proven very successful.

Seam says he has heard so many stories of people who cannot work in the tourism industry anymore and had to go back to the village to farm to be able to literally put food on the table.

He says that is why they are focusing their budget support on rural livelihood.

Seam adds they support the efforts undertaken by the government to reform the agriculture sector and implement a new strategy aimed at creating value, job opportunities, diversifying and coping with climate change.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they are most definitely appreciative of the confidence that the European Union has placed in Fiji.

He says it is also an indication of that fact they have confidence in the way the government is managing the economy and the financial system.

Sayed-Khaiyum says currently Fiji Airways is flying freight flights to Los Angeles, Sydney and Auckland. Over 70% of the freight taken out of Fiji is actually agriculture-based.

He says there are also business opportunities in Fiji and they want to expand that scope to European countries.




Govt will spend $4 million to fund those FNPF members who have less than $35 in their general accounts - Singh

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 03/06/2020
Fiji National Provident Fund’s Chief Financial Officer Pravinesh Singh

Government will spend $4 million to fund those FNPF members for the five fortnights who have exhausted their general accounts or have less than $35 in their general accounts.

Under this category government will automatically deposit $220 in their bank accounts.

Fiji National Provident Fund’s Chief Financial Officer, Pravinesh Singh has confirmed this adding that there are around 8,000 members in this category and the assistance will be fully funded by government.

Singh there is another category where those FNPF members who have more than $35 in their general account and have lost jobs will need to make applications for assistance and depending on their eligibility, government will top up the amount.

The Fiji National Provident Fund has announced Phase two of the COVID-19 withdrawals and assistance.

Chief Executive Jaoji Koroi confirms this round of payouts is to assist people who have been laid off or terminated.




We need Fiji Airways to come back strongly for the future of the country - Koroi

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 02/06/2020
Fiji National Provident Fund’s CEO Jaoji Koroi

“The next two years will be going to be tough but we need Fiji Airways to come back strongly for the future of the country.”

Fiji National Provident Fund’s CEO, Jaoji Koroi has made this comment adding that Fiji Airways is a strategic asset for Fiji and having a strong airline is crucial for their investment in the tourism industry.

Koroi says they had an investment with Fiji Airways through a loan and that has yielded good results over the years where FNPF members have received closed to $30 million through interest from this lending facility.

The FNPF has again come forward and is providing a loan of $53.6 million to Fiji Airways which will be guaranteed by government.

Koroi says they are going through a cycle and they need this strategic asset of Fiji to grow.




$52.1 million paid out so far by FNPF and government for the COVID-19 Withdrawal Assistance

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 02/06/2020
FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi

A total of $52.1 million has been paid out so far by the Fiji National Provident Fund and the government through the COVID-19 Withdrawal Assistance.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi says $7 million has been paid by the government and $45.1 million has been paid by the Fund.

In a press conference this morning, Koroi says in the first phase, 90,487 applications were received and so far funds have been paid for 82,850 applications.

For TC Harold Withdrawal Assistance, $1.06 million has been paid so far to the affected FNPF members.

1,072 applications were received and 812 applications have been processed so far.

Koroi also revealed that members funds as at June 2019 was $5.91 billion.

He says $1.19 billion was in the general account and $4.72 billion in the preserved account.

In 2014, FNPF had $2.5 billion in the preserved account.




China continues to support Fiji in their fight against COVID-19

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 01/06/2020
𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘍𝘪𝘫𝘪 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵 𝘊𝘖𝘝𝘐𝘋-19

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says it is important to understand that we have a role to play to ensure that there is not a second or third wave of the COVID-19.

Dr. Waqainabete made this comment while receiving personal protective equipment from the China Friendship Association.

The items include include 1,000 surgical masks, 20,000 medical masks, 500 medical disposable protective clothing, 5,000 disposable masks and more than 1,000 diagnostic testing kits.

While donating the equipment, Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo says this equipment will enable Fiji to fight the COVID-19 and eliminate it from the country.

Dr. Waqainabete says the equipment will be distributed to health workers in the front line.




Govt plans to provide further assistance to the informal sector

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 23/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The government is looking at ways to assist people in the informal sector who have never registered and do not have an FNPF account.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there are a whole lot of people who are in the informal sector and unfortunately because of the lack of record-keeping have never registered.

He says you may be a tile layer that has a set of tools and has been working for 10 to 15 years and paid 300 to 400 dollars a week but has never registered and do not have FNPF.

Sayed-Khaiyum says suddenly because of COVID-19 this person no longer has a job.

He says if the government says all those in the informal sector are all eligible there will be a lot of people that will say they used to do this and that but they never actually did it.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they have to manage those risks and ascertain a lot of information.

The Minister for Economy says the assistance that will be provided needs to be targeted and there has to be some sort of accountability process.

In the COVID-19 Response Budget, Sayed-Khaiyum had announced that the government will be providing a one-off relief payment of $150 dollars for all those who have a street trader or hawker license.

So far, $26,850 has been paid out to 179 people through the $150 informal sector assistance.




Sayed-Khaiyum announces 2nd wave of FNPF COVID-19 assistance

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 22/05/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Fijian Govt]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has today revealed the second wave of Fiji National Provident Fund COVID-19 assistance where members who have lost their jobs will be able to access $1,100 from their general accounts or will be paid $1,100 by the government over 5 fortnightly instalments.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the 2nd wave of assistance is for unemployment benefit.

This includes all the people who have already received assistance and those who have become unemployed since the 1st wave.

However Sayed-Khaiyum stresses that it does not include those that were unemployed 6 months prior to this and those who are on reduced hours.

He says schemes on how to assist those will be announced later.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are two categories of FNPF members that will be assisted.

One of the categories is the members who have exhausted their general accounts or have less than $35 in their general accounts. There are about 20,000 members in this category and government will automatically deposit $220 in their bank accounts.

These people do not have to go to FNPF to fill in the forms for first payment.

Before the second fortnightly payment, these people have to go to their employer and that employer has to confirm the details to FNPF before the remaining 4 instalments continue.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the government will make the first $220 fortnightly payment for these people next week.

A total of $4.4 million will be used for this.

He says for these people to get the balance of the payments of the five installments of $220 they will need them come in the following weeks to fill out the form with their employer to confirm that they are still unemployed.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are some people who have received assistance but still have amounts left in their General Account and are unemployed.

These people will be again entitled to the $220 paid over five fortnights and again government will top it up.

Sayed-Khaiyum says for example – somebody may only have %500 in their General Account so the government will top up $600 to make the $1,100.

The application process for these people will start on 9th June.

He says they estimate at this point in time given the current trends of those that have applied that it will cost government about $30 million over the five fortnights.

87,489 applications have been received from FNPF members for the first wave of COVID-19 member assistance. 78,519 members have been paid $49.7 million.

18,540 members have received government assistance totaling $6.8 million.

The remaining members withdrew a total of $42.9 million from their FNPF accounts. Close to 4,600 applications will be processed and paid out by the end of May for the first wave of assistance




3 civil servants allegedly breach curfew

By Semi Turaga
Friday 29/05/2020

Three civil servants were arrested for breaching curfew hours in the Southern and Northern Divisions in the last 24 hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho confirms that these civil servants were found heavily intoxicated by officers out on patrols.

Qiliho says 47 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for COVID-19 related breaches.

He says 24 were for breach of sports, 22 for breach of curfew, and one case of breach of quarantine.

Qiliho adds that the lone case of breach of quarantine involves Patient 9 from Soasoa who had allegedly breached self-quarantine orders after arriving into Fiji.

He has been charged with one count of failure to comply with orders and will be produced at the Labasa Magistrates Court today.

The Northern Division recorded 6 cases, 5 for breach of curfew, and one for breach of self-quarantine.

The Southern Division recorded 36 cases in total, 12 for breach of curfew, and 24 reports of a breach of sporting activities.

The Western Division recorded 3 reports of a breach of curfew while the Central Division recorded two cases.




4 people were arrested last night for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 28/05/2020

4 people were arrested last night for breach of curfew.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says that 3 reports were from the Southern and 1 was from the Western Division.

Qiliho says while commendable, they do hope the low number of arrests can be maintained especially as we head into the weekend.

He further says a number of arrests made on the weekends were either linked to people found heavily intoxicated or had failed to properly plan their movement well in advance and were caught trying to get home after a social gathering.

Qiliho adds that the breach of sporting activity arrests are also high towards the weekend, and this can be avoided especially with the children if constant reminders are issued.




Ministry Of Employment receives 7,500 face-masks to help nationwide workplace survey

By Tifa Vataiki
Wednesday 27/05/2020
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Parveen Bala.

7,500 face masks has been donated by the People’s Republic of China to the Ministry of Employment to protect those involved in the nationwide workplace survey.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Parveen Bala says face masks have come as a timely boost to the current nationwide workplace survey.

He says the purpose of the survey is to gauge the impact of COVID-19 in work sites all over the country.

The survey data is a critical tool for workplaces and the information will be fed back to the government and its partners to inform policy and planning for the collective response to the effect of COVID-19 on the labour markets and how it has affected the services.




Assistance to be announced for small businesses

By Semi Turaga
Friday 22/05/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they intend to announce on Sunday some further new initiatives they have been working on with a number of organisations.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this is assistance for the micro-enterprise sector, small-business sector and medium-business sector.

He says they are looking at some very generous concessional loans in particular for small and medium enterprises that may be struggling with their cash flow and help them sustain their business and keep people employed.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they also intend to provide micro enterprise funding to people who may want to start their own small business.

Details of this will be announced on Sunday.

He says they have been working very closely with the Fiji Institute of Accountants, Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation, Women in Business and MSME Fiji to make the process far less bureaucratic.

$26,850 has been paid out to 179 people through the $150 informal sector assistance announced in the COVID-19 Response Budget and it is still open.




Cash for Tree Planting initiative to begin with tourism sector employees affected by COVID-19

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Friday 22/05/2020
Permanent Secretary for Forestry Mr. Pene Baleinabuli plants a Bua-ni-Viti at the State House Compound. [Image: Fijian Government]

With close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector in the country affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry for Forestry will kick-off their Cash for Tree Planting initiative for employees working in this sector.

Permanent Secretary for Forestry, Pene Baleinabuli says they are looking at employing hotel workers who are living in villages in the Western Division since most of these people are landowners themselves.

Baleinabuli says when people look at the Western Division, there is a lot of uncultivated land which can be used for this initiative.

The initiative will also involve the raising of native seedlings for personal and commercial use.

The Permanent Secretary says they are still discussing all the relevant details about this initiative and they are hoping to roll out this initiative as soon as possible.

Baleinabuli says others who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for this initiative but their first approach will be for those in the tourism sector.

Trees planted under this program will be added towards the Ministry’s "30 Million Trees in 15 Years" initiative.

More details will be released later.




FCCC assists 252 residential and commercial tenants affected by COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Friday 22/05/2020
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission CEO Joel Abraham [Photo: Fijian Government]

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has assisted 252 residential and commercial tenants who have been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

221 cases were in relation to residential tenants while 31 were in relation to commercial tenants.

FCCC CEO, Joel Abraham says there was a complainant who was the sole breadwinner. He had a pay cut due to COVID-19 and as a result was unable to pay the full amount of $400 for their monthly rent.

He says a FCCC Investigating Officer then called for a mediation between the two parties and the landlord agreed to drop the rent to $300 for the next 6 months.

Abraham says these are difficult times for everyone and has urged landlords to take this into consideration and show compassion towards fellow Fijians.

He says as the first point of resolving these matters, tenants are encouraged to contact their landlords and make their request in writing to ensure that proper details pertaining to the tenancy is captured in writing.

Abraham says the FCCC recommended negotiating terms that work for both parties and they stepped in to assist with mediation if they were still having difficulty coming to a resolution on their own.




USP students Association establish Good Neighbour Initiative to assist students affected by COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Friday 22/05/2020
The packs include rice, oil, potatoes, flour, noodles, salt, sugar and other necessary food items. [Image: University of the South Pacific]

199 students of the University of the South Pacific who have been affected by COVID-19 have been given ration packs through the Good Neighbour Initiative which has been established by the USP Students Association.

The packs include rice, oil, potatoes, flour, noodles, salt, sugar and other necessary food items.

Association President, Lepani Naqarase says the first batch of assistance targeted mostly private students whose parents have suffered job losses or are on reduced hours and are struggling financially.

Naqarase says they reached out to the various cultural presidents who submitted the names of students who needed urgent assistance.

He says they have a budget of around $30,000 and are looking to assist more than 1,000 students in the coming weeks.

Naqarase says they are using the students’ money which they pay as general fee at the beginning of the semester.

He says they are working with the university to provide other necessities to students such as mobile data and stationery.




More than $105 million provided in assistance through various Social Welfare programs

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 21/05/2020

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is spending more than $105 million a year through various assistance programs for people who are eligible for different types of assistance, however they are also advising people to be mindful of those people are trying to get multiple forms of assistance during the COVID-19 period.

The Director of Social Welfare, Rupeni Fatiaki says 25,467 families are being assisted under the Poverty Benefit Scheme. $36 million has been allocated for this. The scheme is a temporary allowance to destitute families to supplement income. The families get between $35 to $127 per month.

The Social Welfare Department confirms that 8,183 people are getting assistance under the Care and Protection Scheme. These people get monthly cash grants of $29 to $127 and it is provided towards supporting disadvantaged children. It is for single mothers or fathers, deserted spouses, widows, prisoner’s dependent, guardians of foster parents and children in residential care. $8 million is allocated for this scheme.

All those receiving the state welfare assistance in the Poverty Benefit and Care and Protection schemes are also getting $50 food vouchers for approved basic food items.

45,954 senior citizens who are 65 years and above with no source of income are being assisted under the Social Pension Scheme. $46 million is allocated for the assistance for the senior citizens.

2,142 rural pregnant mothers are also getting $50 food vouchers under the Expanded Food Voucher Program. $900,000 has been allocated for this.

52,640 people are being assisted under the Bus Fare Concession Program where senior citizens aged 60 years and above and disabled persons receive a $40 top up per month. The top up per month is currently $20 due to COVID-19. $10 million is allocated for this. Fatiaki says they have started receiving cases of people who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says they are also concerned as some people seem to be double dipping due to lack of coordination by organisations providing assistance packages. This would mean that those in genuine need could also be missing out.




Ministry of Health receives hygiene and cleaning products from Fiji Chemicals

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 21/05/2020

$50,000 worth of hygiene and cleaning products has been donated by Fiji Chemicals to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to support their efforts against COVID-19.

The products donated include 120 litres of Essence 500ml and bulk alcohol hand sanitizers that kill 99.99% of germs.

They also donated 1000 litres of Medigene surface sanitizer which is a highly effective hospital-grade sanitizer used on common hard surfaces.

This sanitizer kills a variety of bacteria, viruses, moulds, fungus and microbiological pathogens.

Fiji Chemicals also handed over 1000 litres of Smart Hands, a non-alcohol quaternary-based hand sanitizer.

Quaternary hand sanitizers are considered gentler on the skin while still killing the COVID-19 virus and other microbes.

The Health Ministry also received detergents, destainers and fabric softeners.

Fiji Chemicals is Fiji's oldest manufacturer of cleaning, hygiene and industrial products based in Lautoka.

The company was established 45 years ago.




Various protocols being developed to ensure that Australia and NZ are comfortable in including Fiji in their travel bubble

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 21/05/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji is developing various protocols that will ensure that Australia and New Zealand are comfortable in including Fiji in their travel bubble.

Sayed-Khaiyum says one of these things is the contact tracing app that is expected to be launched soon.

He further says this will give a lot of confidence to people.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds it is just not about governments saying it is okay to travel but it is the people, they need to feel confident.

He adds that the protocols are being worked on by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Transportation.



33 days without a new COVID-19 case – PM

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 21/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji has gone 33 days without recording a new COVID-19 case.

Bainimarama says they are working with all stakeholders including the private sector to develop a long term containment strategy which upholds the health of every Fijian and instills confidence in our citizens, businesses and our international partners that Fiji is responsibly managing a return to normalcy.


The Prime Minister further says as soon as they decide there is a manageable risk to resume recreational contact sports, he will let the people know.

Bainimarama adds when it is safe to do so , we will resume full scale sporting tournaments in a way that puts the well-being of fans and athletes first.




Calls for honesty as some take advantage of Veilomani Food Bank assistance

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 21/05/2020
Veilomani Food Bank

The Ministry of Housing and Community Development says it has found people who were already employed and financially capable of looking after themselves, applying for the Veilomani Food Bank assistance.

In a statement, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development says whilst distributing food packs over the weekend, Ministry officials found that a family applied for food assistance although they own and operate few taxis.

Minister Premila Kumar says it was rather unfortunate that some people are trying to beat the system, denying those who desperately need assistance.

She says the Veilomani Food Bank is here to assist those who genuinely need assistance and they can only do this well if members of the public are honest and forthcoming.

She is urging the public to think of those Fijian families who are in greater need and struggling to make ends meet.

She says the Ministry has so far distributed 38 food packs to 38 families living in Suva, Lami, Nasinu, Davuilevu, Koronivia, Valelevu, HART residence in Newtown, Waidamudamu settlement, Cunningham Stage 1, Khalsa Road and Waila.

Those who wish to seek assistance under the Veilomani Food Bank initiative can either visit the Housing Ministry at 33 Gorrie Street to fill the form or call 3309918 to give their details.

For those in the Western and Northern divisions, they can visit the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission office and give their details.

The British, New Zealand and Australian High Commissions, the American and Japanese Embassies, Asco Motors, Office of the Auditor General, the Fiji Development Bank have come on board to assist affected Fijian families around the country.




Pernix donates $20,000 to the COVID-19 Trust Fund

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 20/05/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Fijian Govt]

Pernix Fiji Pte Limited has today donated $20,000 towards the government's COVID-19 Trust Fund.

While receiving the donation, Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says we are going through a number of motions at the moment in respect of the impact of COVID-19 not just from a health perspective but also the economic perspective and how we mitigate those problems that have arisen due to COVID-19.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are trying to think of new ways to ensure that we adapt to the new environment during the COVID-19 situation and post COVID-19 situation.

He adds they are appreciative of the donation.



77,507 FNPF members receive COVID-19 relief

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 20/05/2020
[image: FNPF]

77,507 Fiji National Provident Fund members have been paid out $49.1 million to date under the COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme.

18,312 members were subsidized by the government top-up, receiving more than $6.67 million.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi says that $42.4 million of members’ funds has been withdrawn under the COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme.

Altogether, 86,854 applications were lodged. Close to 4,600 members will be paid out this week.

Koroi says they understand that some members are still waiting and these are applications that the teams are trying their best to complete.

He apologizes for the delays they have encountered and assures them that if they meet the requirements, they will receive their funds.

Meanwhile Koroi says the Fund has reverted to normal operations today, with a dedicated team tasked with processing COVID-19 applications.

He also stressed that the national health safety restrictions in place will remain and all visitors to the Fund’s offices or premises, will be required to adhere to the physical distancing protocols, with only 20 people at a time allowed into Fund offices, especially for smaller branches or agencies.

He says their Valelevu Office which had been closed from 1st April, opened today and is now operating as normal. However, the Fund is requesting members to make full use of services available on its digital platforms such as the myFNPF mobile app, Member portal or myFund, minimizing the need to physically visit FNPF offices.




Methodist Church of Fiji donates relief supplies to NDMO for those affected by TC Harold

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Methodist church of Fiji

The Methodist Church of Fiji has donated relief supplies to the National Disaster Management Office to assist those affected from Tropical Cyclone Harold.

While handing over the supplies on behalf of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Iliesa Naivalu says this is a continuation of their close collaboration with the Fijian government especially during tough times.

The supplies includes food and clothes.


Reverend Naivalu this is from the members who have contributed and have sent their well wishes for those affected.

He says they hope for quick recovery to those who have been affected especially to those who have lost their homes.

The NDMO Director Vasiti Soko says this donation is an additional contribution from the Methodist church who have already donated some items in the Western division.

Soko says it will be coordinated and delivered to those who needs it in the affected areas.

She says the second phase of deployment is currently conducted in affected areas around the country.




New stock of three antibiotics that were short in supply have arrived into the country

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 16/05/2020
The antibiotics include cloxacillan, ceftrixone and piperacillan. [image: medlineplus]

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services confirms that new stock of three antibiotics which are used to treat infections and diseases and that were short in supply have arrived into the country.

The antibiotics include cloxacillan, ceftrixone and piperacillan.

The Ministry says that the Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services is currently distributing these medicines to their health facilities.

The Ministry says alternative drugs were being used during the period when these antibiotics were low in supply.

It says some global supplies have been impacted by COVID-19 related country shut downs and some drugs were in low supply.

The Ministry of Health says alternative suppliers were being sourced.

Some people had contacted us saying that they were informed that these medicines were limited in supply and are only available for children.




Minister for Economy to announce more support for the unemployed in partnership with the FNPF

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 15/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the coronavirus is the challenge of our generation.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says early next week, the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out in partnership with FNPF to aid those Fijians whose employers have been severely impacted by this crisis.

Bainimarama says they are also closely monitoring and working with businesses in various sectors and financial institutions to provide targeted support.

He says the coronavirus is the challenge of our generation.

Bainimarama says if the campaign presses onwards to total victory, when the history books recount the difficulty of this period, they will tell of how Fijians led the way in beating this virus for good.




Australia donates AUS$12.25 million to Fiji as discussions continue regarding the travel bubble

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 14/05/2020

The Australian government has donated AUS$12.25 million to Fiji as COVID-19 relief assistance and discussions are continuing between Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand regarding the travel bubble.

This has been confirmed by the Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who says that he has been in talks with respective ministries of Australia and New Zealand and are looking forward to working with them.

However, Sayed-Khaiyum says there is a lot of work yet to do regarding this and they still need a bit of time to do so. He says COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the tourism sector and there is a need to get the sector back on.

The Attorney General says due to this, Fiji's tourism sector is completely dismantled.

Sayed-Khaiyum says it is important to note how we can re-engineer the tourism market going forward in terms of what types of products we can offer, what types of specials we can offer and the prices of food and beverages.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says there is no time given to this potential travel bubble because they are still working with New Zealand regarding this and it will take some time before an agreement is reached.

Feakes says there are still active COVID-19 cases in the three countries and the health of the Australians, Fijians and the New Zealanders will be first priority before a Trans-Tasman travel is looked into.




USP will give 700 tablets to students who do not have learning tools

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 14/05/2020
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia

The USP says it will make available 700 tablets to its students who may not have access to learning tools from home.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia says the University is also undertaking a survey to also determine the number of students who are not able to access the remote teaching platform.

He says approximately half of the tablets will be distributed among the Fiji campuses immediately.

Ahluwalia says USP students needing a tablet are encouraged to enquire at their nearest campus.

He says the remaining tablets will be sent to the regional campuses once the borders are opened.

Ahluwalia says that the distribution will ensure everyone has a fair chance to education and equal learning experience.

He adds that from the initial set of data, about 89% of the students have some electronic equipment or gadget such as Laptop/PC or Tablet.

USP has also opened all campuses from 8am to 8pm for students to access the computer labs and the libraries.

USP has converted almost 300 face-to-face courses to online.

He says students should contact their course coordinators if they are facing issues.




Zero Fee on Vodafone M-PAiSA Local and International Money Transfer

By Iva Danford
Thursday 14/05/2020

People can send money for free from tomorrow using Vodafone M-PAiSA for the next two months.

This comes after Vodafone Fiji and the United Nations’ Pacific Financial Inclusion Program today announced a partnership where Vodafone M-PAiSA will offer free remittances into Fiji on the M-PAiSA platform with the support of WorldRemit, RIA Money and Thunes.

Vodafone Fiji Head of eCommerce and Corporate Affairs, Shailendra Prasad as Fiji and the world navigates through a very difficult period in our history due to COVID 19 pandemic, the harsh realities of economic and psychological impact on people is now becoming an everyday concern.

Prasad says many have lost their jobs or working reduced hours which is affecting their take home pay.

Vodafone with the support of its global money transfer partners, will waive all fees from 15th May, 2020 until 14th July 2020 for both domestic and international remittances that are made using the M-PAiSA payment platform.

United Nations’ Pacific Financial Inclusion Program, Programmes Manager, Bram Peters says they have seen from early reports from the World Bank and other organizations on the global impact of COVID-19 that it has a significant impact on the volume and frequency of remittances.

Peters says with the impact of TC Harold on top of COVID-19, many Fijian families are hit with a double whammy and they need this source of income more than ever before.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Ariff Ali says this will help in much needed foreign currency during this difficult economic environment to sustain the balance of payments and foreign reserves.

The free money transfer service from overseas to M-PAiSA is available through WorldRemit on its global online platform covering countries of Australia, New Zealand, USA, and UK.

Free sending over the counter service through walk-in outlets of RIA Money Transfer will be available in 94 countries from tonight.

The online platform for Thunes will also be enabled for free transfer of money to M-PAiSA from later tonight.




Australia donates AUS $12.25 million to Fiji as part of COVID-19 relief assistance

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 14/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes

The Australian government has donated AUS$12.25 million to the Fijian Government as part of their COVID-19 relief assistance.

While receiving the donation Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum thanked the Australian Government for the donation.

Sayed-Khaiyum says COVID-19 has not only brought health challenges but has also brought about a lot of economic challenges.

He says due to this Fiji's tourism sector is completely dismantled.

Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes says it is a wonderful achievement that Fiji is on the cusp of being COVID-19 free.

Feakes says once this is done, it is important that Fiji bounces back quickly in terms of its economic state and adds that New Zealand and Australia will play an important role in this.




Fiji receives $175,000 worth of relief supplies from the US

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 14/05/2020
United States Ambassador donated over FJD 175,000 worth of locally-sourced COVID-19 relief supplies to the government of Fiji

The United States has donated over $175,000 worth of locally-sourced COVID-19 relief supplies to Fiji.

The donation includes over 1,400 litres of hand sanitizer, 1,000 boxes of sanitizing wipes, 9,000 face masks, 500 surgical gowns, and 50,000 pairs of latex gloves, 3 tents, 90 folding chairs, 20 folding tables, iPads and generators.

IMG-1822

US ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella says it is a joy to be able to help Fijians in their fight against COVID-19.

Cella says these supplies will assist the Ministry of Health and the disciplined forces with managing contact tracing and setting up fever clinics and forward operating bases.

He adds all items were purchased locally to maximize the economic benefit to Fijian businesses.

IMG-1831



Veilomani Food Bank Initiative receives further boost

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 13/05/2020

The Veilomani Food Bank Initiative today received further boost as it received a truckload of food items from the New Zealand, Australia, US, UK and Japan government.

The items include flour, sugar, rice, biscuits, salt, onions, potatoes and other necessities.

While receiving the items, Minister for Local Government, Premila Kumar thanked the five countries for their assistance.

Kumar says the initiative was earlier used to assist those who were affected by being in quarantine in lockdown areas but since they only have 4 active cases, the items will now be used to assist people who have been affected by COVID-19 such as being sent home on leave without pay or working on reduced hours.

She says they had distributed food hampers to 319 households from HARTS and 16 hampers to families in informal settlements last week.




Nausori District Council of Social Services collecting data on people affected by COVID-19 and TC Harold

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 13/05/2020
Nausori Town and Rewa bridge. [image:file]

The Nausori District Council of Social Services is in the process of collecting data in the Nausori area on the number of people who have been affected by COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold that assistance.

Project Coordinator, Autiko Daunakamakama says the data is being made available to NGO’s who are providing assistance to the people with food items and other supplies.

He says the Nasinu District Council of Social Services are carrying out a similar exercise and have assisted a families.

Daunakamakama adds that they are currently working with about 20 volunteers and are looking to recruit more volunteers as they will be covering large areas of Tailevu, Rewa and Naitasiri.

Meanwhile, Nausori District Council of Social Services carried out a clean up campaign yesterday from the Waidamu Bridge to the Junction of Vuci South.

The Project Coordinator says while cleaning the environment they are also creating awareness within the communities about keeping the environment clean.

Nasinu and the Nausori District Council of Social Services come under the Fiji District Council of Social Services.




Paradise Beverages Limited donates 1,400 litres of Hand sanitizers to Health Ministry

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 13/05/2020
The US Ambassador to Fiji Joseph Cella (left) and General Manager of Paradise Beverages Mike Spencer

Fiji’s leading alcohol beverages manufacturer, Paradise Beverages Limited has donated another 1,400 litres of manufactured hand sanitizers towards the Health Ministry’s fight against COVID-19.

They had already handed over 1,000 litres of hand sanitizer last month.

General Manager of Paradise Beverages, Mike Spencer says they had made a commitment to produce and distribute 25,000 litres of hand sanitizers around Fiji which is an expensive exercise for them.

Spencer says they are fortunate that the US Embassy has come on board and contribute to this because if they did this themselves, they could not do it for long.

He says they are also thankful to several companies that have provided the ingredients and services that is needed to make this product locally, and importantly to distribute more hand sanitizers under these challenging conditions.

Once delivered, the sanitiser will then be distributed at the discretion of medical staff and community leaders.

He says the more help they get, the more sanitizer they can make and distribute free of charge.

The US Ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella was present on behalf of the US Government to donate the hand sanitizer to the Health Ministry.

The donation is funded by the United States Indo-Pacific Command’s Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid program to help stop the spread of COVID-19.




Lifeline Fiji receives calls from medical workers and Police officers for emotional and psychological support

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 13/05/2020

Counselling service provider, Lifeline Fiji confirms that they have received calls from front-line workers such as police officers and medical workers who have called in for emotional and psychological support as they have been affected due to the COVID-19 situation.

Lifeline Fiji Officer-in-Charge Jeremiah Merekula says people can call 132454 if they are facing any issues as these are difficult times for many people.

The Lifeline support for medical workers and police officers is going a long way to assist people affected by this front-line work, as they are facing the dangers of COVID-19 on a daily basis.


He adds that they do not have statistics on the number of callers working on the front-line because they do not characterise their callers.

Merekula says to help our front-line workers, people must adhere to the advice given by the officials as our front-line workers are doing a lot of work to keep us safe.

If you need to talk to someone, you can call Lifeline Fiji at anytime on 1543 if you are a Vodafone user or their landline on 132 454.




Fiji is going through the test of times and nurses have been our unsung heroes - Waqainabete

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 13/05/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete says Fiji is going through the test of times and nurses have been our unsung heroes.

In his message for International Nurses Day, Dr. Waqainabete says that Fiji has close to 3,200 midwives, nurse practitioners and registered nurses.

The Minister further says it is a thankless job and their contribution towards the well-being of the nation can never be truly measured.

He adds they have seen firsthand how the nurses, together with other health practitioners, have sacrificed their personal and family time and have worked long hours to respond to COVID-19.

Dr. Waqainabete says they always put others before themselves.

He adds with the ongoing response to COVID-19, Fijian nurses continue to play a crucial role in operating fever clinics and mobile fever clinics, taking care of those who tested positive and are in isolation facilities, and constantly checking those who were in self quarantine.

The Minster also says nurses play a vital role in ensuring Fijians get the quickest medical care in times of any illnesses, disease outbreaks or other health-related issues adding in most cases, especially in rural and maritime areas, nurses are the first and only point of care for Fijians.




Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha ready to assist affected students

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 12/05/2020
Students of Rishikul Sanatan College gathered for Assembly [Photo: Rishikul Sanatan College]

The largest Hindu organisation in the country, Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji says assistance will be provided to students who attend any of their schools and have been affected by COVID-19 or Tropical Cyclone Harold.

The Sabha runs 117 schools in the country and they have more than 70,000 students.

Sabha General Secretary, Vijendra Prakash says teachers and school heads will identify the students who have been affected and will inform the management after which arrangements will be made to assist these students.

All this will happen when school opens on the 15th of June.

Prakash says those affected will be provided with meal assistance and school supplies. Meanwhile, the Sabha has assisted 167 families who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Tropical Cyclone Harold and will be assisting another 100 families in the coming weeks.




Sathya Sai Service Organisation assists 95 families affected by COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 11/05/2020
Sathya Sai Service Organisation Chairman Doctor Rajat Gyaneshwar.[image: Sathya Sai International]

The Sathya Sai Service Organisation is assisting 95 families who have been affected by COVID-19 and they are also identifying more families who need assistance.

This has been confirmed by the Organisations Chairman Doctor Rajat Gyaneshwar who says this has been made possible as they have received assistance from their sister organisations in Australia and New Zealand.

He says these families are being provided with food packages.

Doctor Rajat says they know these families will be needing ongoing assistance as it is unclear how long the effects of COVID-19 will last.

The Chairman says that their nine centres around the country are identifying more families who may need assistance.

He says that they welcome anyone coming forward that would be able to help them in assisting the families who need urgent help.

Meanwhile, Doctor Rajat says at a time like this psychological issues and mental health stress is significant which is why they are planning to host a webinar for medical and nursing staff in the next two weeks.

He adds that they also want to organise a webinar from Australia and New Zealand for medical students so that they can have access to high-quality tuition.




EU gives $30,000 to FRIEND to assist Fijian communities affected by COVID-19 in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba areas

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 11/05/2020
European Union has provided $30,000 to the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND - [Photo: European Union]

The European Union has provided $30,000 to the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND to assist Fijian communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nadi, Lautoka and Ba area.

The money provided to FRIEND was set aside for the European Union to host a party to celebrate Europe Day on 9th May but because of COVID-19 and the associated ban on gatherings of more than 20 people and social distancing mandatory requirements, the EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, cancelled the 2020 celebration.

IMG-4061[Photo: European Union]

Seam says this financial support will enable FRIEND to supply food items, establish small income generation projects and provide training on backyard gardening and food preservation in this difficult time.

He adds because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to host their traditional Europe Day party to celebrate what the EU stands for: unity, solidarity and harmony. He adds using the budget set aside for this event to help the people of Fiji is a different way to promote their values.

IMG-4065[Photo: European Union]

Seam says he knows times are difficult for many, who struggle to put food on the table and bring money home for their families adding he is happy to partner with FRIEND Fiji to provide relief to the affected Fijian communities in the West.

FRIEND Fiji Founder and Director, Sashi Kiran applauded the EU timely support.

Kiran says FRIEND has been responding to food needs since the Lautoka lockdown.

IMG-4076[Photo: European Union]

Kiran says the EU support today will enable them to open a food bank in Lautoka and in Nadi in partnership with TISI Sangam where those in extreme need of food could collect food parcels.

She adds the support to livelihood is much needed during this difficult period.




FCCC assists 51 businesses and individuals during COVID-19 Crisis

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 11/05/2020

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has assisted 51 businesses and individuals during the COVID-19 crisis who were seeking assistance in extending business repayments, commercial rent, residential rent, the supply of goods in the shop, termination of base contract and drafting letters for Fiji National Provident Fund processing.

Out of the 51 cases, 44 have been resolved , 7 are still in progress while 4 cases have been referred to the relevant authorities.

FCCC CEO, Joel Abraham says they understand this year has been difficult for many small businesses, with a number of recent events leading to economic and personal challenges.

FCCC-SM

FCCC CEO, Joel Abraham

Abraham says their special response team were able to assist 29 commercial tenants with the reduction of rent payments around the major divisions in Fiji.

He also highlighted that an owner of two taxi bases was given an eviction notice after his contract expired but he had 15 taxis that were providing services for 300 Fijians.

Abraham adds FCCC was approached for assistance and they conducted mediation between the owner and the relevant authority and came to a conclusion of extending the contract until 31 December 2020.




Fijian troops in Iraq receive drinking water and personal protective equipment from the Australian Defence Force

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 08/05/2020
Members of the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment offloading water delivered to them by ADF and Iraqi Forces in Baghdad, Iraq. [Photo: RFMF]

The Australian Defence Force has handed over a container load of drinking water and personal protective equipment to the Fijian Contingent deployed to Iraq under the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.

The water was requested due to the breakdown of a water pump that supplied water to the Camp Fijian Troops were accommodated in resulting in the rationing of water to Fijian troops.

The Director Peace Support Operations, Colonel Pacolo Luveni says the personal protective equipment was sent in order to top up the current stocks available to Fijian troops serving in Iraq as a safeguard against the Coronavirus.

He says in order to prevent a situation where Fijian Troops would be lacking in drinking water and without adequate personal protective equipment, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces acted quickly and began planning and organizing this resupply.

RFMF-sm[ Members of the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment storing water delivered to them by ADF and Iraqi Forces, in Baghdad, Iraq.]

Colonel Luveni says this planning had to factor in restrictions imposed by the Government of Iraq due to the fight against the Coronavirus and the possibility of coordinating with regional Defence partners that maintained logistic flights into Iraq and had personnel and logistic relationships within the country.

He says they reached out to their counterparts in the Australian Defence Force , and in the spirit of the Vuvale Partnership through enhancing their security cooperation began coordinating efforts to acquire and ship water and personal protective equipment to Fijian troops in Iraq.

He adds the successful delivery of water and the personal protective equipment to these personnel and adherence to regulations put in place as a result of COVID -19, is a testament to the close ties that have been fostered between the RFMF and the ADF through years of working closely together.




214 applications for Housing Authority COVID-19 relief packages

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 07/05/2020
The Housing Authority of Fiji CEO Robert Sen

The Housing Authority of Fiji has so far received 214 applications for its COVID-19 relief packages.

CEO Robert Sen says about 70 percent of the applications have been processed.

He says a few applications have been declined because of incorrect information and documentation but they have written to these customers to provide further information so their applications can be reviewed.

Sen says of the 214 applications they have received, 147 are from the Central Division and 67 are from the Western Division.

He says majority of the applications from the Western Division were from affected workers in the Tourism Sector.

Sen adds their COVID-19 assistance was for customers who have lost their jobs, are on reduced hours or leave without pay for a certain period of time.

He further says most of the customers have applied for deferring of repayment for three months while a few have changed the contract whereby the loan repayment can be extended and a few have also opted to pay interest only for 3 months.

Sen says obviously this will have a strain on Housing Authority's cash flow as these customers' repayments have been deferred for the next three months.




ADB gives $900,000 to assist people affected by TC Harold

By Priteshni Nand
Thursday 07/05/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and ADB Regional Director for the Pacific Masayuki Tachiiri.

The Asian Development Bank has given a $900,000 grant to the Fijian Government to provide immediate relief to the people affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

ADB Regional Director for the Pacific Masayuki Tachiiri says this grant will be used to provide immediate relief such as water, shelter, sanitary kits, medicine and other essential needs to the people severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has thanked the ADB for its continuous support during these trying times.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are also working closely with ADB with other programs they have in terms of infrastructure and loan arrangements Fiji has with them.

He says they are also working with them for the 2020-2021 budget.




TOTAL and their staff make a contribution of more than $64,000 to the COVID-19 Trust Fund

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 07/05/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Managing Director, Kazi Rahman.

A kind gesture by the staff of Total has seen them donate more than $14,000 to the government’s COVID-19 Trust Fund.

This was made possible as every employee of TOTAL gave up one-day annual leave.

TOTAL has more than 100 staff.

TOTAL as a company also donated $50,000 to the fund.

Company’s Managing Director, Kazi Rahman says the TOTAL Group remains very positive about Fiji’s prospects in the long term.

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Rahman says they have already obtained approval for a strong investment portfolio.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum thanked TOTAL and their staff for their committment to Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the contribution by the staff shows their concern and commitment for their fellow citizens.




406 members withdraw funds under TC Harold Assistance

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 07/05/2020
FNPF CEO Jaoji Koroi

A total of $515,000 has been paid to 406 FNPF members for the TC Harold withdrawal scheme, which is being processed simultaneously with the COVID-19 applications.

FNPF CEO Jaoji Koroi says the Fund’s inspection teams are in Kadavu this week and have started visiting the villages and settlements that have been identified by the National Disaster Management Office.

Koroi says inspection for areas identified on Viti Levu, wrapped up last week and their teams will be in Kadavu until the end of next week.

He also says members who live outside of the areas identified as worst affected, can still access their funds for housing withdrawal if they are eligible.



5 Marriott Fiji Resorts assist their affected team members

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 06/05/2020
The Solia Lesu by Marriott Foundation successfully completed the third delivery run. [Image: Marriott Resort]

Five Marriott International Fiji Resorts - The Westin Denarau Fiji Resort and Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Sheraton Tokoriki and Marriott Momi Bay Fiji have teamed together, and are assisting their team members and other community members affected by COVID-19 and TC Harold.

Thousands of workers in the tourism and hotel sector in the country are on Leave Without Pay or on reduced hours, and hotel operators are trying to look at ways to look after their staff.

Marriott Hotels in Fiji have already introduced $100 per week, advance loan option for team members on Leave Without Pay since 30th March 2020 to assist them with cash flow during these tough times.

This loan will be recollected from team members before 31st December 2020.

The Marriott resorts in Fiji have set up the “Solia Lesu” (which means “Give Back”) by the Marriott #givebackfijifoundation.

The objective of the Solia Lesu initiative is to provide meals to the staff and their communities that have been affected by COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold as well as first responders and healthcare workers.

Multi Property Vice President, Fiji and Samoa for Marriott International and General Manager for Sheraton and Westin Resorts in Fiji, Neeraj Chadha says during these challenging and unprecedented times, the wellbeing of their associates is of the most outmost importance to them.

Chadha says their objective is to provide associates and their communities with 100 meals per day.

Initial funding has come from donations by the Senior Leadership team and as they progress, they will continue to raise funds by extending their reach to their business partners, family and friends of Fiji for donations, one of which is through their Facebook Page- “SOLIA LESU”.

They have already delivered food packs to Nadi Hospital, Nadi Police Station, Narewa Village and Yavunasia Village since the establishment of the initiative.

They have also welcomed a partnership with long-term business associates, Punjas Group of Companies in support of the “Solia Lesu” initiative.

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Chadha says it is great to see Punjas extend their support to their cause by generously offering dry goods consisting of rice, flour and dhal to assist meal preparations for the food drive.

In June 2018, the Fiji National Provident Fund acquired the Marriott Denarau tourism assets, which include the 297-room Sheraton Resort, 246-room Westin Resort, and the 111 hectare Denarau Golf Course and Development Land.

This added to FNPF’s existing impressive stable of hotel assets that include the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn Suva and the Grand Pacific Hotel.




Japan provides $200,000 worth of relief supplies

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 06/05/2020

The Government of Japan through their Embassy in Fiji has provided approximately FJ$200,000 worth of relief supplies to the Fiji National Disaster Management Office to help them in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Harold.

The relief supplies include tents, water tanks, generators and some other relief items.

The Embassy says they have provided this emergency relief assistance from a humanitarian point of view and in light of a strong friendship between Japan and Fiji.

The Government and people of Japan have convey their deepest sympathies to the people of Fiji for the damages and losses, hoping that the most vulnerable in the communities and families can recover soon from the setback caused by the cyclone.




Chinese Community and Fiji Chinese Federation for Commerce and Industry donates protective equipment to Health Ministry

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 06/05/2020
Fiji Chinese Federation for Commerce and Industry Secretary Xiaochun Wu with Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete

The Chinese Community in Fiji in collaboration with the Fiji Chinese Federation for Commerce and Industry has donated protective equipment to the Ministry of Health in the fight against COVID-19.

Fiji Chinese Federation for Commerce and Industry Secretary Xiaochun Wu says the assistance includes more than 10,000 face masks, temperature guns and other protective equipment.

He says they had members donating money from the elderly right down to school students where they managed to collect $13,900.

Wu says the equipment was bought from China.

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has thanked the chinese community for their donation and has reminded everyone not to let their guard down.




Nestle Fiji donates $75,000 in fight against COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 06/05/2020
Nestle Fiji General Manager Jason Jezewski and Fiji Red Cross Director General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau

Nestle Fiji has donated $75,000 to the Fiji Red Cross to support the current COVID-19 support efforts in Fiji.

Fiji Red Cross Director General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau says the funds will be used to raise awareness on how people can be safe and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Rokotunidau says they currently have 68 volunteers and are working closely with the Ministry of Health who are going around all over the country to raise awareness.

Nestle Fiji General Manager Jason Jezewski says the donation is intended to help communities in need by supporting provision of first aid emergency response and pandemic control by the Red Cross.

Jezewski says the donation will also provide immediate help to frontline healthcare workers by funding additional personal protective equipment.



BRED Bank confirms assisting retail and corporate clients facing financial difficulties due to COVID 19

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 06/05/2020

BRED Bank has confirmed that 20% of their retail clients and 60% of their corporate clients have been assisted as they are facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has been confirmed by the Bank CEO Thierry Charras-Gillot who says many of their customers have asked them for help and they have assisted when the request was justified.

BRED Bank says applications for those people who have lost their jobs and sources of income have been approved while they are still processing more applications.

They say any customer-facing hardship may contact the Bank where their application will be assessed on a case by case basis and assistance will be provided to all customers who face genuine hardship.

The bank also says customers are contacting them daily and the numbers are increasing.

Meanwhile, Charras-Gillot says that out their 135 employees, 40 to 50 employees are working from home, mainly for reasons of social distancing as they strictly follow the directives issued by the government.

He says this allows their staff who continue to work at the bank's head office to have space, since 1 out of 3 positions is occupied.

The CEO adds that no employees have been made redundant none of them had their pay cut and they are even welcoming new staff.




Sabha assists 167 families affected by COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 06/05/2020

Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji has assisted 167 families who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Tropical Cyclone Harold and will be assisting another 100 families in the coming weeks.

However Sabha General Secretary, Vijendra Prakash says the number of people seeking assistance is increasing as more jobs are affected.

He says they will be having a discussion with their national executive council members to be prepared to provide assistance.

Prakash says they are also requesting their branch officials to survey their own area.

He says they have already given food packs to 32 families in the Nabua lockdown area and 98 families in the Soasoa lockdown.

They have also assisted 37 families in Nausori and Tailevu who were affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

He also says that Delta Timber has provided over $17,000 worth of roofing iron and other material to the people of Vusuya who were affected by TC Harold.

Prakash says members of the Sanatan Dharm Rewa Sabha will be distributing 100 parcels to people who were affected by the recent flooding in Omkar Road, Narere as they have received assistance from former members in the United States.




Spouses of Corrections Officers receive Welfare and Insurance cheques

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 05/05/2020
(L-R) FCS Insurance broker Roselyn Gopal of Marsh Ltd, Merewalesi Vosanibola, Commander Francis Kean, Eleni Vula and Prashant Chandra of Fiji Care at the presentation at FCS Head Quarters in Suva this morning.

The Fiji Corrections Service has presented the Welfare and Insurance cheques to the families of two Corrections Officers who passed away earlier this year.

The two former officers, the late Tomasi Vosanibola and the late Anare Vula had taken out insurance policies under the Fiji Corrections Service - Fiji Care Insurance Scheme as part of the organisation’s requirements in assisting families in Corrections Welfare and Health.

Commissioner of Corrections, Commander Francis Kean handed over the cheques to the spouses of the two late officers.




Fiji receives $270,000 worth of medical supplies from China

By Shanil Singh
Monday 04/05/2020
Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Xian Bo and Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Fiji has received further assistance in their battle to combat COVID-19 with the Chinese Government donating around $270,000 worth of medical supplies.

The items include 1000 pieces of medical disposable protective clothing, medical protective goggles, N95 protective face masks, 500 pieces of disposable sterilized rubber surgical gloves, medical isolation shoe covers and 100 pieces of infrared thermometers.

The Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Xian Bo says that the other batch of medical supplies donated by the Chinese Government will arrive in Fiji very soon.

Bo says this will include 1000 sets of PCR diagnosis test kits which will arrive next week.

He says that the virus is a common enemy and Fiji and China have a stake in each other's well being to work together.

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has thanked the Chinese Government for the donation.

Dr. Waqainabete says the supplies will assist the medical staff who are work hard to contain the spread of the virus in the country.




More COVID-19 test kits and humanitarian supplies for TC Harold come in from Australia

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 30/04/2020
The aircraft also carried UNICEF supplies including tents and WASH kits as part of Australia’s ongoing cooperation with United Nations’ agencies

Another Royal Australian Air Force C-17 aircraft landed in Nadi today carrying 360 GeneXpert test cartridges to enable more local testing for COVID-19 and $402,000 worth of humanitarian supplies to support Fiji’s response to TC Harold.

The Australian High Commission says Australia and the World Health Organization are working together to ensure Fiji and other Pacific Island neighbours across the region have access to high-quality testing equipment to detect and combat COVID-19.

The GeneXpert system can produce accurate results within 45 minutes and allows direct detection of the presence of the SARS-CoV−2 virus, which causes COVID−19, in swabs or other samples.

Australia has contributed $1.46 million towards the WHO procurement of 96,591 GeneXpert PCR testing cartridges and three additional GeneXpert PCR machines, to enable in-country diagnostic testing for COVID−19 across the Pacific.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, was at Nadi Airport to receive the aircraft, and said the GeneXpert cartridges would strengthen Fiji’s capacity to quickly and reliably test for COVID-19.

Feakes says staff from the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services have done phenomenal work over the last couple of months to detect and contain the spread of COVID-19, and Australia will continue to support their efforts by ensuring the Fijian vuvale have access to accurate and high-quality testing equipment.

This delivery of test kits is one of many expected to arrive in Fiji over coming weeks.

In addition to the 360 test cartridges and 1000 Ceftriaxone antibiotic injections, the aircraft also delivered an additional $402,000 of humanitarian supplies to support Fiji’s response to TC Harold including:

2600 Mosquito nets for beds

200 Blankets

200 Sleeping mats

175 Family tents

10 Chainsaws

5 Generators 8KVA

100 First aid kits

4 Thermal foggers to combat mosquitos

100 litres of Pyrethrin insecticide

5 Respirator kits for workers combatting mosquitos

6 Flat pack 1000 litre water tanks

396 Hygiene kits

720 Tarpaulins

The aircraft also carried UNICEF supplies including tents and WASH kits as part of Australia’s ongoing cooperation with United Nations’ agencies.




Organizations brainstorm with some companies to assist those workers who have been let go -FRIEND

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 30/04/2020
Mr Roneel Prasad hands over refreshment items to SDMO Dr Akesh Narayan for his teams running fever screenings in the communities [Photo: FRIEND]

With initial assessments indicating that more than 40,000 people are on Leave Without Pay, have lost their jobs or are on reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some organizations are mobilising to work with industry stakeholders whose employees do not have any source of income.

Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND says people are facing a lot of difficulties like providing food for their babies, unable to pay for rent or utility bills apart from putting food on the table for the whole family.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sashi Kiran says those in dire need to get baby formula can contact them however they are also encouraging mothers to look at alternative types of food for their babies.

Kiran says assessments are coming through and about 50,000 people in the country are estimated to be severely affected.

She says some people need more than just food rations, and there is no sign on when this situation will come to an end.

Kiran hopes the employers have some social protection measures for their own employees who have been sent home without pay.

Kiran says NZAID, ANZ and other people including former citizens have come forward to assist FRIEND. The organisation has used the donations to assist more than 3,000 people however FRIEND needs more support to continue to assist the affected families.

She has also assured people who make cash donations to their bank account that all the money is given to people being assisted, and none of these funds go towards admin fees. If you are interested in providing a helping hand, you can contact FRIEND on 8983183 or email them on friend@connect.com.fj



Mobil Oil Fiji donates fuel to assist the Ministry of Health and Fiji Police in response to COVID-19 pandemic

By Iva Danford
Thursday 30/04/2020
Mobil Lead Country Manager Adi Tamara and Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Mobil Oil Fiji is donating fuel to assist the Ministry of Health and Fiji Police in carrying out activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mobil Lead Country Manager Adi Tamara says the Mobil team wanted to support the response to COVID-19 and help keep Fijians safe.

He says Mobil has an important role to play in continuing to supply essential energy to Fiji throughout the pandemic and they are working hard throughout to keep fuel flowing to service stations and other essential businesses and facilities.

Mobil-oil-with-ministry-of-health-sm

Tamara says he is very pleased that they have been able to provide fuel to our first responders, who also had to deal with the additional strain of managing impacts from the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Tamara says they hope that this fuel donation will assist in carrying out important tasks such as contact tracing of community members who have recently arrived in Fiji, or those who may have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease.

He says the Mobil team has put in place strict measures to ensure members of its workforce are kept safe and fuel can continue flowing to Fiji throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tamara says throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there have been no disruptions to Mobil’s fuel supplies in Fiji, despite the challenges that the situation has presented to its operations and the broader community.




FRIEND working with landowners in Lautoka to get food security for people on Leave Without Pay or reduced hours

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/04/2020
[Photo: Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development]

Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND is now working with landowners in Lautoka to get food security for thousands of people who are on Leave Without Pay or reduced hours.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sashi Kiran says they are working with the Turaga Ni Koro, Advisory Councillors, youths and other people to utilize available land to plant root crops and vegetables to assist those severely affected after losing their jobs or getting reduced pay.

Kiran says assessments are coming through and about 50,000 people in the country are estimated to be severely affected.

She says they are also looking at people preserving and eating cassava and kumala leaves that used to be eaten in the past, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue for some time.

She says their focus is on assisting people in Lautoka, Nadi and Ba.

Kiran says NZAID, ANZ and other people including former citizens have come forward to assist FRIEND. The organisation has used the donations to assist more than 3,000 people however FRIEND needs more support to continue to assist the affected families.

She has also assured people who make cash donations to their bank account that all the money is given to people being assisted, and none of these funds go towards admin fees. If you are interested in providing a helping hand, you can contact FRIEND on 8983183 or email them on friend@connect.com.fj



36,499 FNPF members receive a total of $25 million through the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/04/2020
FNPF members lineup outside FNPF main building, Suva, to apply for the COVID-19 assistance earlier this month. [image: file]

36,499 people who are FNPF members have received a total of $25 million after they had applied for assistance under the FNPF COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says $3.0 million was paid by Government and $22 million has been paid by the Fund.

Koroi says that 65,800 applications have been received from members, which is equivalent to 93% of the total withdrawals made in the last financial year.

He says they have paid out some 56% of applications received and they have a target to clear another 25,000 this week, inclusive of approximately 8,600 applications that were received before 16th April.

Koroi says 3,700 COVID-19 withdrawal assistance applications are on queried status with the Fund.

He says while there is progressive improvement in its processing, the Fund is also faced with the arduous task of rectifying these 3,700 applications.

Koroi says applications are queried due to the form not fully completed by the member, employer’s stamp or signature or both are missing, required documents not submitted by the member or employer or both and wrong form filled by the member.

He says they have a dedicated team looking into all queried applications as it is one of the main reasons as to why some applications are delayed further.

Koroi says members whose applications are queried are being contacted by their team and for those that continue to be unreachable, the Fund will publish their names in the media at the end of this week so they can have them come forward to rectify the query.

He says they continue to seek members’ patience and understanding of the delays and also reassure members that they will pay all members as soon as practical.

Koroi says it is definitely not because of cash flow but they want to ensure that proper procedures are maintained on withdrawals.

He says the Fund has also been actively working with all banks for verification of member’s bank accounts, before any approval or payment is done and this is due to the relaxation of the bank statement requirement.




Financial lifeline loan package remains in place to assist severely impacted small and medium-sized businesses in Fiji - RBF

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/04/2020
The Reserve Bank of Fiji. [image: File]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji confirms that the financial lifeline loan package remains in place to assist severely impacted small and medium-sized businesses in Fiji.

Fijivillage has received confirmation that under the three facilities combined, more than $300 million has been lent out to businesses to date.

Following the COVID-19 Response National Budget, the RBF says it is continuing to support local businesses by granting access to emergency funding to help keep them and the Fijians they employ, operating through this difficult period.

The Reserve Bank offers three facilities targeted to Small and Medium Enterprises through the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme; Import Substitution and Export Finance Facility; and Disaster, Rehabilitation and Containment Facility.

An SME is defined as either an enterprise with a turnover between $30,000 to $500,000 or an enterprise that employs fewer than 50 workers.

RBF says people in these categories are eligible for the relief.

Those looking to start a new SME can also take advantage of these facilities by applying through relevant lending institutions for assistance.

Small and Medium Enterprises may access these funds through an application to a commercial bank, licensed credit institution or the Fiji Development Bank.

Funding will be subject to each individual bank’s normal credit criteria.

The RBF says the funding will range from $10,000 up to $500,000, depending on the SME’s requirements.

The Reserve Bank says loans above $500,000 can be considered under special circumstances.

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme will cover 50 per cent of the principal amount outstanding on defaulted SME loans, up to a maximum of $50,000 per individual business.

Latest financial statements for your business from a certified accountant; Tax compliance certificate/letter; Business registration certificate; Business plan and cashflow projections; and an application to a commercial bank, licensed credit institution, or FDB stating the level of funding sought and the rationale supporting your request are needed.

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce has also been asked by the RBF to assist potential clients with their cashflow statements.



Fiji Corrections Service provides financial assistance to the spouses of 10 Corrections staff who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Services Commander Francis Kean with Corrections staff and spouses of the ten Corrections personnel. [image: Fiji Corrections Services]

The Fiji Corrections Service has provided financial assistance to the spouses of ten Corrections personnel who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

These families received $300 each to help them cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven families are from the Central and Southern Division, two families are from the Western Division while one is from the Northern Division.

26-year-old, Ulamila Ravidiki, a pastry chef at the Novotel Hotel in Lami says the assistance was most unexpected but is most appreciated.

The mother of two says that she had been laid off from work for the past month without any pay and with no guarantee when they would start again.

Ravidiki says that she thanks the Fiji Corrections Service for remembering them as it has been a tough few weeks mostly because they do not know how long this crisis would go for.

She adds the donation will go towards the family groceries and teaching aid for the children.

Meanwhile, Tokasa Viniana who works for Peninsula Hotel in Suva says she was quite humbled by the kind gesture but adds that family was always very important to the Fiji Corrections Services.

The mother of five says this money will be put aside for when school starts because she is not working and they have to plan.

Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Services, Commander Francis Kean said that this small gesture of financial support to their staff who are affected by the COVID 19 pandemic is a reflection of their values in the Corrections Services; Family and Empathy.

He adds that they trust that this small support will be put to good use.



Close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector on leave without pay and reduced hours

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/04/2020

Close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector in the country continue to remain seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of workers have been sent on Leave Without Pay while a small number of people are on reduced hours and on rotational work.

Chief-Executive-Officer-of-Association-Fantasha-Lockington


Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association CEO, Fantasha Lockington says the assessment of the industry is that more than 150,000 people are directly or indirectly affected by the drastic drop in visitor arrivals as a result of the global pandemic. This includes all the businesses connected with the provision of goods and services when we have tourists in the country.

Lockington says it is devastating for the entire industry for now - with no light seen at the end of the tunnel.


Lockington says this time of the year would have been the beginning of the high season however Fiji does not hold any bookings rather than returning residents from April to June this year.

She says the industry does not know and no one can predict at this stage on when the borders will open, and when can tourists safely come into the country.

Lockington says health protective measures will also need to be in place when the borders do open up.


She says from April to June last year, we had 235,634 visitors.

Between January to June last year, we had 470,000 visitors and they spent $1.2 billion. For the whole of last year, Fiji had 894,000 visitors and $2.1 billion came in through tourism earnings.

Lockington says the March arrival figures are down 53 percent, from 59,000 visitors in March last year to 27,972 visitors this year.

empty-hotels   





China provides USD$300K to Fiji to assist in their response to COVID-19 crisis

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Saturday 25/04/2020
Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo

USD$300,000 has been provided by the People’s Republic of China to the Fijian Government to assist in their response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo says work is also in progress to assist Fiji through the supply of Personal Protective Equipment where the first batch of supplies is expected to arrive this week followed by the next batch later this month.

Earlier in the week, they also donated USD$100,000 to the National Disaster Management Office to aid the relief and rebuilding efforts in communities affected by severe Tropical Cyclone Harold.




ANZ Bank donates AUD $500,000 to help COVID-19 relief efforts in eight Pacific countries

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 23/04/2020
ANZ Bank Fiji

ANZ Bank today announced it would donate AUD $500,000 to help COVID-19 relief efforts in eight Pacific countries.

Red Cross Fiji will receive $200,000 to support their relief efforts for families affected by the global pandemic and cyclone Harold.

ANZ Fiji Country Head, Saud Minam said the double crisis of dealing with cyclone Harold, on top of the global COVID-19 pandemic has meant many Fijians are experiencing significant hardship and there are families in real need, where one or more caregiver has lost employment.

ANZ Regional Executive for the Pacific Tessa Price said combating the spread of COVID-19 was a regional challenge and that ANZ is playing its role to support our customers and communities.

Director-General for the Red Cross in Fiji, Ilisapeci Rokotunidau, said the staff and volunteers felt overwhelmed by the donation.

The donation follows fee removals, interest rate reductions and loan repayment deferral options already offered by ANZ to support Pacific customers experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.




Ranjit Garments has committed to make and donate bed-sheets pillowcases and blankets to the Ministry of Health

By Violet Matakibau
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Ranjit Garments donated a total of 850 bed-sheets and 850 pillow cases last week. [image: Health Ministry]

Ranjit Garments has committed to make and donate 3000 bed-sheets 3000 pillowcases and 300 blankets to the Ministry of Health.

The items will be used in community isolation facilities set up by Ministry Of Health across the country.

They donated a total of 850 bed-sheets and 850 pillow cases last week and will be donating the rest in the course of two weeks.

The Ministry of Health says such timely assistance from corporate organisations go a long way in responding to this pandemic.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services also thanks other companies and organisations who have contributed to the Ministry’s efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19.




4 youth volunteers donate hand made masks and antibacterial hand washing soaps to the Health Ministry

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 22/04/2020
The hand made masks will be used in the fever clinics around the country.

Few youth volunteers in the Northern Division have come forward to provide assistance towards the provision of masks and antibacterial hand washing soaps to assist the health workers in the fight against COVID-19.

This initiative has been made possible through the Ministry of Youth and Sports office in the Northern Division and the Labasa District Youth Council.

The team have donated 160 hand made masks and 160 antibacterial hand washing soaps to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Ministry of Youth and Sports Manager North, Walter Matalau and the President of the Labasa District Youth Council, Shaneel Mohammed handed over the donation to the Divisional Medical Advisor North, Dr. Hari Subramanian today.

The volunteers had undergone practical sewing and soap making training through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Skills and Empowerment program.

The Ministry of Youth says they will be contacting ex-trainees in sewing and soap making to assist where possible.






Bondwell Fiji donates over 3000 disposable masks and fever guns to Ministry of Health

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 22/04/2020
General Manager of Bondwell Jeetesh Kumar and COVID-19 Incident Management Team Head, Doctor James Fong

More help has reached our health care workers who are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.

Bondwell Fiji has donated over 3000 disposable masks and non-contact thermometers also known as fever guns to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

COVID-19 Incident Management Team Head, Doctor James Fong received the donation from the General Manager of Bondwell Jeetesh Kumar. These masks and fever guns will be used by health care heroes in the fever clinics around the country.

Bondwell has also thanked all the hardworking health care heroes of our country.




The Association of Banks in Fiji pledges $50,000 towards the Fijian Government COVID-19 Donor Fund

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/04/2020

The Association of Banks in Fiji has pledged $50,000 towards the Fijian Government COVID-19 Donor Fund to help Fijians keep fighting on.

Association Chairman, Rakesh Ram says in addition to a number of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic effects, they felt the need to provide further assistance towards the various communities affected and also post TC Harold.

He says it is also great to see that many Fijians are taking advantage of the packages offered by various banks to assist with the loans and mortgages.

Ram says as an essential service, they would like to assure customers that they will still remain operational during the lockdown although they encourage everyone to use the digital platforms as much as possible to ensure social distancing is maintained for the safety of both the customers and staff.

He says all the banks in Fiji - ANZ, Bank of Baroda, Bred Bank, Bank of South Pacific, HFC Bank and Westpac provided their support towards this noble cause.



ANZ confirms receiving more than 1,100 loan applications for COVID-19 relief packages from their customers

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 21/04/2020
ANZ main branch, Suva

ANZ Fiji Country Head, Saud Minam confirms they have received more than 1,100 applications for relief packages from those ANZ customers who have taken loans and are affected by COVID-19.

He says around 270 applications have been processed and close to 160 customers have signed for the relief package.

The relief package includes six-month principal and interest deferment.

Minam says ANZ expects to receive more applications in the coming days from their customers who have been affected by loss of jobs, hours and business constraints.

Meanwhile, Minam had made it clear that nothing is free and the loan amount has to be paid back in full at some point in time by their customers who will be signing for a six-month relief package for principal and interest deferment.

Minam says every individual who will be eligible for the relief package will be properly briefed before they sign on the package.




HFC Bank have assessed and supported about 200 out 400 applications for relief due to impact of COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 21/04/2020
File Photo

HFC Bank says they have assessed and supported about 200 customers out of the 400 applications they have received from customers who are affected by financial difficulty and hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

The bank says they are still processing the other 200 applications.

The bank says they have put in place policies and guidelines to help customers financially impacted by COVID-19.

They say support will be provided to all customers who have been directly impacted by the global economic downturn, loss in revenue or have suffered financial constraints.

The bank says this mainly relates to Corporate, Commercial and the Small Medium Enterprise Sector and the hardship assistance can also be extended to affected personal customers who may be suffering from salary cuts, reduced hours or financial difficulties and support to the personal consumers will also be aligned to the Consumer Credit Act.

HFC Bank say customers affected through COVID-19 will be assessed and assisted, depending on their circumstances.

The bank also says they can provide assistance by giving their customers a loan repayment break or repayment holiday, restructure of loans (renegotiate terms & conditions including term extension, interest-only concessions and debt consolidation), short term funding or top-up loans for business continuity and support and they will also be enabling customers to access any government or RBF initiative stimulus package.

HFC Bank is also encouraging customers to use digital banking platforms and e-channels and avoid visiting the branch unless it is necessary.




Over 400 people who applied for relief assisted by BRED Bank

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 21/04/2020

BRED Bank has assisted more than 400 customers so far who have applied for relief as they are facing hardship due to unemployment or loss of income.

The Bank says that applications for those people who have lost their jobs and sources of income have been approved while they are still processing more applications.

They say any customer-facing hardship may contact the Bank where their application will be assessed on a case by case basis and assistance will be provided to all customers who face genuine hardship.

The bank says customers are contacting them daily and the numbers are increasing.

They say they have kept the requirements as minimal as possible as they understand the importance of quick assistance.

The bank says customers need to show evidence of impact on income, for example, a letter from employer for pay cuts or layoffs or cash flows for businesses.

BRED Bank also says they are providing assistance to customers with minimal physical interaction and practicing safe distancing protocol in cases where physical interaction is necessary. The bank is also operating on its Business Continuity Plan with more than 80% of staff working from home.

They say these measures are taken for the safety of customers, staff and their families.




Paradise Beverages hands over 1000 litres of hand sanitizer towards the Health Ministry’s fight against COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 21/04/2020
GM of Paradise Beverages Mike Spencer hands over hand sanitizers to the Minister for Health, Dr. Waqainabete. [image: Dr Waqainabete/Twitter]

Fiji’s leading alcohol beverages manufacturer, Paradise Beverages has handed over 1000 litres of hand sanitizer towards the Health Ministry’s fight against COVID-19.

This has been confirmed by the Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete. The sanitizer was handed over by the General Manager of Paradise Beverages, Mike Spencer.

Paradise Beverages had earlier said they had worked with some businesses and commenced producing more than 25,000 litres of handsanitizer for distribution for free to the people of Fiji.

The 25,000 litre batch of hand sanitiser will be delivered by Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji to hospitals, medical centres, and villages in 1000 litre and 20-litre vessels.

The company’s distillery in Lautoka, which is mostly known for its spirits with brands including Bounty Rum, Regal Gin and Whiskey, will shift its production to alcohol-based hand sanitisers to help address the supply issues currently faced by most Fijians.

General Manager of Paradise Beverages Mike Spencer says the commitment is possible because of the strong relationships that Paradise Beverages has with Fiji’s business community.

Spencer says they are all committed to protecting the safety of their people and Fiji.

He says the team recognised the growing need for sanitiser in March and were quick to create a 40-litre test batch per the World Health Organisation’s recipe.

The Ministry of Health has tested and approved the sanitiser.

Spencer says since March they have been working with a number of companies to procure the ingredients and services needed to make, and importantly distribute, more of the hand sanitisers under these challenging conditions.

He has thanked Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji, the Market Development Facility Fiji, Ecolab Fiji, Sopura Australia and the Fiji Sugar Corporation for their significant contributions.

Spencer says FSC has made an impressive contribution of 100 tonnes of molasses. He says as molasses is an ingredient in their alcohol production, and alcohol is 70 per cent of hand sanitiser, this means they will reach the hands of thousands more Fijians – literally.

Once delivered, the sanitiser will then be distributed at the discretion of medical staff and community leaders.

Spencer says this is an expensive exercise. He says they have the capacity to make more sanitiser and appeal to any business or organisation that is willing to help, to contact him at Paradise Beverages.

He says the more help they get, the more sanitiser they can make and distribute free of charge.




Paradise Beverages starts production of free hand-sanitisers

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 16/04/2020
Paradise Beverages commenced producing more than 25,000 litres of hand sanitiser for distribution for free to the people of Fiji. [image: Paradise Beverages]

Fiji’s leading alcohol beverages manufacturer, Paradise Beverages has worked with some businesses and commenced producing more than 25,000 litres of  for distribution for free to the people of Fiji.

The 25,000 litre batch of hand sanitiser will be delivered by Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji to hospitals, medical centres, and villages in 1000 litre and 20-litre vessels.

The company’s distillery in Lautoka, which is mostly known for its spirits with brands including Bounty Rum, Regal Gin and Whiskey, will shift its production to alcohol-based hand sanitisers to help address the supply issues currently faced by most Fijians.

General Manager of Paradise Beverages, Mike Spencer says the commitment is possible because of the strong relationships that Paradise Beverages has with Fiji’s business community.

Spencer says they are all committed to protecting the safety of their people and Fiji.

He says the team recognised the growing need for sanitiser in March and were quick to create a 40 litre test batch per the World Health Organisation’s recipe.

The Ministry of Health has tested and approved the sanitiser.

Spencer says since March they have been working with a number of companies to procure the ingredients and services needed to make, and importantly distribute, more of the hand sanitisers under these challenging conditions.

He has thanked Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji, the Market Development Facility Fiji, Ecolab Fiji, Sopura Australia and the Fiji Sugar Corporation for their significant contributions.

Spencer says FSC has made an impressive contribution of 100 tonnes of molasses. He says as molasses is an ingredient in their alcohol production, and alcohol is 70 per cent of hand sanitiser, this means they will reach the hands of thousands more Fijians – literally.

Once delivered, the sanitiser will then be distributed at the discretion of medical staff and community leaders.

Spencer says this is an expensive exercise. He says they have the capacity to make more sanitiser and appeal to any business or organisation that is willing to help, to contact him at Paradise Beverages.

He says the more help they get, the more sanitiser they can make and distribute free of charge.




Westpac’s COVID-19 Customer Support

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 01/04/2020
Westpac Fiji Chief Executive Kip Hanna

Westpac Fiji customers who have been affected by COVID-19 will be given a repayment holiday (principal and interest) up to six months on their home loans, personal loans and business loans.

This will be done on a case by case basis.

Westpac Fiji say customers who can provide evidence they have been impacted through COVID-19 by the loss of employment, reduced hours, enforced leave without pay and business closure are entitled to this.

However interest will be accumulated over the number of months a customer takes to pay their loan.

Westpac Fiji Chief Executive, Kip Hanna this is a once in a lifetime event and a united response by government, regulators and corporate Fiji is exactly what they need, and what has been put in place.

Hanna says they are determined to help their customers through this uncertain situation.

He says at this challenging time, they remain very conscious of the important role they play and their focus is on ensuring they continue to support their customers.




BSP arranging reliefs packages to assist customers who have been affected by COVID-19

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 01/04/2020

Bank of South Pacific says it is arranging relief packages on a case by case basis to assist customers who have been affected by the evolving nature of COVID-19.

BSP Fiji says for personal loans, there will be six months principal and interest holiday.

For car loans, there will be six months principal and interest holiday. There will be a repayment holiday of up to 6 months on credit cards and six months principal and interest holiday on home loans.

It says maturity term will be extended by a commensurate term of the suspended repayment period.

BSP Fiji says for business customers, there will be principal and interest holidays for up to six months.




AG announces initiatives rolled out by Telecom Fiji Limited

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 01/04/2020
Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has announced a number of initiatives that have been rolled out by Telecom Fiji Limited.

For the next three months, residential customers will get double data on all post-pay broadband plans, Fibre and 4G, free 5GB data per month for all prepaid customers.

It has been announced that for additional recharge for any denomination, customers get double data, waiver of reconnection fees for all broadband customers, free unlimited internet access at all Connect Wi-Fi hot spots nationwide, all landline customers who already have 1GB complimentary data will now receive 5GB, free 200 minutes on-net calling for landline customers to all Telecom Fiji numbers and 10 cents a minute for off-net calls including mobile and most frequently called international destinations (Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, France, Germany).

For Business customers, double data on all broadband plans includes ADSL, VDSL, Fibre and 4G.

Telecom is already in discussions with customers in the hotel industry and tourism sector to offer flexible payment arrangements on a case by case basis.

Telecom Fiji says to facilitate and support staff working from home, Telecom will offer 30%additional bandwidth at no extra cost for their enterprise customers adding reconnection fees will be waived for all post-pay voice and data customers and for business customers going into work from the home mode for their employees, Telecom will offer 60 days free access to WebEx enterprise web conferencing and collaboration platform, free 6 months access to Microsoft Teams for all enterprise customers, Telecom will look at a work from the home package for enterprises and their staff on a case by case basis to customize plans for individual businesses.

For remote customers until further notice free calls to all Telecom numbers and designated helpline numbers (including Vodafone and Digicel helpline numbers) from all maritime and remote communities, schools and government stations using satellite services. This includes customers in Rotuma.

Telecom says they would like to reassure its customers that it will continue monitoring the situation closely and take necessary precautionary measures to appropriately respond to the situation as it develops and provide regular updates to all our customers and other stakeholders.


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